Why Ysearch Matters
by Peter J. Roberts

A man walks into a bar and a bear says to him, “Hi cousin! Your mother’s father’s grandfather is my ancestor.”  The man replies, “How can you know that?  The bear says, “I took a Y-DNA test and I’m R1b.” Then the bear walks out of the bar and into the woods.

This is not a joke.  Something similar is common on WikiTree, even though WikiTree is intended to be all about collaboration.  Shared facts need to be sourced or referenced.

Over 1,200 males on WikiTree have taken a Y-DNA test. Unfortunately less than half (454) include their YSearch ID allowing them to easily share their result with others.  Some may say, “Share my DNA? Are you nuts?!”  but without such collaboration we hear the sound of one hand clapping.

WikiTree is the world’s most DNA feature rich genealogy site, but until Y-DNA information is used to its potential by comparing haplotypes and confirming direct paternal lines, then like other systems, it will remain plagued by mythological ancestries and other inaccuracies.

Please encourage Y-DNA testers (FTDNA, Ancestry, Others)  to upload their results to www.ysearch.org and then add their YSearch ID to their DNA Tests page in WikiTree.  Until then, unlike Goldilocks in The Three Bears, WikiTree will only be like other trees in the genealogical forest, and never ‘just right’.

Peter J. Roberts is an associate professor and archivist at Georgia State University. He has an undergraduate degree in art history from Emory University and a graduate degree in museum education from The George Washington University. He has had an interest in genealogy for about 40 years and has been exploring genetic genealogy for the past 10 years. He is the administrator for the Bahamas DNA Project and three surname DNA projects, namely Roberts, Sasser, and Rustin. He is a past regional coordinator for the Atlanta area for the International Society of Genetic Genealogy. In WikiTree he is an active member of the DNA Project and a leader of the Bahamas Project.
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  18 Responses to “WikiTree and DNA ~ Why YSearch Matters”

  1. Peter,

    I enjoyed reading your blog post about YSearch. I really don’t remember my STR based YSearch ID at the moment but I always at my age and research level remember my name and Y-SNP Hg.

    It’s George Jones R1b-L371. Since we are now in a new era of SNP based NGS research, the older STR schema at YSearch seems poorly out of date.

    YSearch does not even provide for the ~450 STR markers that NGS tests (BIGY, FGC, Etc) can now provide.

    Moreover, my gripe is that YSearch does not provide a schema for listing ones numerous Y-SNP information such as Y-SNP name, Y-SNP position, Y-SNP mutation, etc.

    The new ISOGG Y-Tree listing criteria is ONLY accepting newly discovered and validated PUBLIC like Y-SNPs which are NOT in Genealogical Paper Trail Time (1 to 15 Generations back / prior to about 1400 or 1500). There are also GD parameters based on STRs.

    The new ISOGG Y-Tree listing criteria is SORELY LACKING in not providing a mechanism for sharing and listing ones FAMILY like Y-SNPs which happened after about 1400 or 1500.

    Do you think that ISOGG or YSearch or another Organization should list FAMILY like Y-SNPs (with the proper consents provided)?

    I have taken the FGS Y-SNP test and have discovered over 40 PUBLIC like Y-SNPs and about 10 FAMILY like Y-SNPs.

    What is your terminal Y-SNP Hg?

    George Jones R1b-L371

    • Hello George, I admire the trail blazing you and others have taken with BIG Y and similar tests. For now I believe a Y-DNA37 test usually provides enough information for genealogy research. Great minds are currently hard at work filling out the tiny twigs in the Y haplogroup Tree. I cherish the day when we can make use of many SNPs known to be only two or three hundred years old.

      What you learn from BIG Y and similar tests can be entered in the note field of your Y-DNA test taken. BIG Y is an “Other Y-DNA test” which can be selected from your DNA Tests page in WikiTree. That information can also be entered in your YSearch note field.

      Sincerely, Peter

      • Hi,
        I’m considering starting a DNA project, which would integrate results from Full Genomes and from YSEQ…would WikiTree be a good forum for such a project?

        • Hello Greg,

          WikiTree can integrate Y-DNA results from Full Genomes and YSEQ. Use Other Y-DNA test. The suspected terminal haplogroup goes in the haplogroup field and descriptive notes in the note field. Y-STRs go in YSearch and YSearch ID goes in the YSearch field.

          I welcome any questions. Sincerely, Peter

  2. I am new to this site and very confused.i did my DNA with ancestry.com and was not given a choice of any of the different types of testing I could have asked for.
    My husband and I carry an abnormal gene that caused us to have a very sick child who later died.i thought I was submitting my DNA for that type or research but I cannot get my results to load onto my wiki page tree.
    I am very interested in this subject but it is so over my pay grade Could you make some suggestions on which test might give the best information I still have ancestry info still the raw data .
    If anyone could advise me if this would be useful or a waste of time!
    My husband and I had 1:4 chance of this happening again thank God our second son was ok .The syndrome was called TAR or thrombocyopenia absent radius syndrome,this was 28 years ago when research was much harder.

    Thank you for your advise.
    Jackie Jones.

  3. Hello Jackie,

    I recommend consulting with a genetic counselor regarding health related issues.

    Sincerely, Peter

  4. Dear Jackie,

    I feel for you! You have to understand that none of the genealogy companies will offer genetic testing that can answer health questions. There are all different kinds of genetic tests, and they only offer ones that give a glimpse into your ancestry. These companies are not set up to look into health conditions.

    There’s a company called 23andMe that was offering a broad overview of health-related genetics for the consumer, but the FDA decided to force them to stop offering that kind of test. The FDA is probably very much under the influence of the medical industry, who want to be the only possible way for you to find out about your health. So now, 23andMe is also offering only ancestry information from your DNA.

    If you look at the AncestryDNA website, I am sure they will explain that they are not doing any kind of medical research, but it’s hard to find the time to read all the fine print, I guess.

    To find out about a very specific genetic condition like the one you mentioned, you really need to ask a doctor anyway. I think it’s highly unlikely that any company, anywhere, would test for a condition like that without going through a physician. Ask a doctor to refer you to a geneticist and a genetic counselor.

    There is a website where you can find out some health information from your raw data, which you say you have. But if you find the testing that you have done so far confusing, it would probably be far more confusing. For the sake of others who may be reading, it’s called Promethease. The information in it is not backed by any institution, doctor, or medical authority. It’s all contributed by the public, like Wikipedia. I doubt that it would tell you anything about TARs. Ancestry tries not to include any markers that cause serious illness in their data.

    There are a lot of web pages where you can read more about TAR, such as this one: http://ghr.nlm.nih.gov/condition/thrombocytopenia-absent-radius-syndrome

    Wishing you all the best,

    Bonnie Schrack

    • Bonnie,
      People mistrust doctors and “the healthcare industry”. Believe me, we know. Patients are not at all shy about letting physicians know how much we can’t be trusted. But might I make a suggestion? Why not give a medical doctor the benefit of the doubt, much like you would a stranger on a discussion thread? Assume they want to help you unless they give you a reason to think otherwise. My goal in caring for patients is to give them all the information they need so that they can make their own health decisions; I just act as a consultant. I would never hold onto ANY medical information for personal benefit. It’s discouraging to hear that someone might walk into my office with that assumption.

  5. I believe Wikitree folks should re-approach this subject with an eye towards incorporating DNA results into WikiTree. The problem is that all the various labs share a common sales pitch. We don’t really trust the results from the competitor’s lab and therefore you need to retest. What would it take for WikiTree programmers to build a vendor neutral depository that would allow anyone from any lab to post their results in a way that would allow comparisons?

  6. Hello,

    For those who are unaware, Y-Search has been largely abandoned by FTDNA.com. Y-Search is still functional but to a far lesser degree than it used to be. Y-Search focuses on Y-DNA which is the Y male chromosomal markers that is passed down from father to son virtually unchanged over the generations. The reasons are numerous but the current focus is on atDNA (autosomal DNA) which simply looks at DNA strands that were inherited from your ancestors and shared by others. And without current supervision junk and joke profiles have been entered confusing many.

    All said, Y-Search is a place where people from different DNA companies could come and compare their DYS values. But, it would never be a place for or replace surname studies.

    A Y-DNA surname study, like the Carpenter Cousins Y-DNA Project, will sort Y-DNA into profiles or groups. Some people call this genetic finger printing.

    Once grouped or put into Y-DNA profiles the Y-DNA study then compares genealogy and common ancestors. By using a process called genetic triangulation, a surname study with enough members matching in genealogy and genetics can reconstruct the common ancestor’s genetic markers. To be accurate, such ancestor reconstruction via triangulation must be done repeatedly, IE multiple points of triangulation, to be accurate. And one must show the work involved.

    WikiTree does not allow or have a place for such reconstructed profiles. And many times in the past have taken down such results. Part of it is lack of understanding and a failure of WikiTree to be updated to fix problems.

    What good is it to re-enter hundreds of lineages to shown individuals who have taken Y-DNA tests that are not allowed to partake in reconstructed ancestor Y-DNA markers? Each individual would have to do it themselves or give permission to do enter the data.

    Those specific individuals involved have already given documented permission to show their Y-DNA results, to participate in the Y-DNA study and are noted for privacy by ID numbers on the project webpages. WikiTree does not even come close to allowing this.

    The best thing is to refer and educate people to genetic triangulation and reconstructed ancestor profiles. For example, I have added a section called Genetic Research to [http://www.wikitree.com/index.php?title=Carpenter-19&public=1William Carpenter b. abt 1605 England of Rehoboth, Bristol, MA].

    I hope this helps.

    John R. Carpenter
    Carpenter Cousins Project

    • A reconstructed ancestral haplotype can be in the note field of the Y-DNA tester’s DNA Tests page, or in the tester’s profile page under a heading such has ==DNA== or ==Reconstructed Y Haplotype== The reconstructed haplotype can be in YSearch with a link to the YSearch ID from those locations.

  7. I ran into some kind of a sever error while trying to move my data to ysearch from Family Tree DNA. I wrote them about it, and this was their reply:

    “YSearch and Mitosearch are two websites that are still active for use but are not maintained in any way by our IT department. They are kept active for public use as there is still an interest in them but our team of developers has dedicated themselves to the upkeep of FamilyTreeDNA specifically and as such we can offer no technical support for either website.
    Please accept our apologies for any frustration this has caused.
    Have a great day!”

    It sounds like Ysearch.org is an important tool for the community, but I’m not sure FamilyTreeDNA cares much for it.

  8. I haven’t had any worries about someone getting their hands on my DNA. I was happy to upload to y-search. y-DNA testing was quite useful for me as a Scandinavian Ramsey- which I didn’t know I was (I thought I was Ulster Scot). Since only 11.4% of Ramseys are Haplotype I, it narrowed my search a great deal. However, it cannot be stressed enough that y-DNA is imprecise and cannot be used by itself to determine how closely someone is related. Using a carefully-researched family ancestry, plus autosomal testing, plus y-DNA testing, I was able to find ancestors that had been lost, and mistakenly assigned to other trees. I have some matches with a genetic distance of 1 at 37 markers, and I have dug back into the mid 1700’s without finding our MRCA. It’s really when we use ALL the tools in the toolbox that we are most likely to have success.

  9. Please add a function to search wikitrees that have haplogrops, excluding others. Some graphical icon also to indicate that thia tree has dna information when looking at search results.

  10. Y-search is not taking new DNA data!! What options do we have to compare yDNA for Wikitree? Are there going to be new rules?

  11. I did not test STRs, only SNPs, so YSearch is not of any use…

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