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And time needed for it, too

It’s time for a very big change at Family Tree DNA, which is rolling out major changes in its website, its matching algorithms and more.

And it’s going to take time for the changes to all filter through.

In other words, the rollout of new design, new features, new matching and more ain’t done yet.

And a whole bunch of things The Legal Genealogist might have said about the changes ain’t done yet either.

FTDNA changes

Here’s what I’m sure of:

• There are some new features we’re all going to love. (Expanded sorting tools! A chromosome painter!)

• There are some aspects of the changes we’re all going to be annoyed by. (Ten seconds for the dashboard page to load? Really?)

• And there are some aspects of the changes that ain’t done yet, so I can’t figure out which bucket to put them in.

Here’s what Family Tree DNA says is happening1 — we’re all getting:

• A new look to the Family Finder matches page, with more options for “easier searching, sorting, and filtering of your matches.”

• Improved matching and predicted relationships with “adjustments to our matching algorithm, which will bring you more accurately predicted relationship ranges and fewer identical by chance matches.”

• A “newly introduced Help Center.”

• And, coming soon, “Chromosome Painting of your myOrigins populations. This new feature will paint the location on your genome where each myOrigins population is found.”2

And here’s what this means in a practical sense right now:

• Everybody is going to lose a whole bunch of people from their match lists. Most of those were very likely to have been false positives under the old algorithm.

• Everybody is going to gain a whole bunch of people as new matches on their match lists. In most cases, folks will gain enough new matches to more than offset the lost matches.

• Everybody is going to see big changes in the numbers for shared DNA and in the longest block — segment — of DNA shared with matches.

• Everybody is going to see big changes in the way matches are described: people in higher or lower categories (predicted second cousins getting promoted to first, and lots of demotions, especially in endogamous populations). And, it appears, the total removal of the fifth to remote cousin category.

And the biggest practical issue at the moment: this gain-loss-revise-the-numbers process ain’t done yet.

I know that for absolute certain.

I had 5,564 matches on Wednesday, June 30, the day before the change began. On Friday, I had 5,113 matches — representing a loss of more than 1,700 matches from the old list and a gain of more than 1,300 new matches. Yesterday, I had 5,119, some from the old list having been put back into the new list. This morning, I have 5,122 — including one restored match that would have absolutely baffled me had it not been restored (even under the old matching system, that match and I shared a segment way bigger than any reasonable change could have eliminated and we are shown as significant matches at other testing companies).

So… change takes time. And this change isn’t finished yet, especially when it comes to who will and who won’t end up in our matching pools.

I’ll have more to say once more time has passed. Especially if it keeps taking 10 seconds for the dashboard page to load.3 Every. Single. Time.

Cite/link to this post: Judy G. Russell, “Time for FTDNA’s change,” The Legal Genealogist ( : posted 4 July 2021).


  1. See “Updates To Family Finder, Featuring Improved Matching And A Soon To Be Released Chromosome Painter,” Family Tree DNA blog, posted 1 July 2021 ( : accessed 4 July 2021).
  2. Ibid.
  3. Yes, I timed it. Repeatedly. That’s a very long time to load what ought to be a relatively static page.
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