Should we still be recommending DNA Confirmed templates now that we have Confirmed with DNA status indicators?

+15 votes
[The following involves three rather advanced topics: the role of style rules on WikiTree, how templates work, and DNA testing for genealogy. See for related discussion.]
Last year, Peter Roberts helped us create DNA Confirmed templates so that we could show when relationships were confirmed with Y-chromosome and mitochondrial DNA testing, and to explain how that conclusion was made. For more on this, see:
These templates do two things:
  1. Show the conclusion that DNA has been confirmed.
  2. Give the source for the conclusion.
We'd been assuming that we'd add templates for autosomal and X-chromosome DNA confirmations. Peter has been working on this.
Now that we've added the Confirmed with DNA status indicator to the database and working on the recommendations for how to use it, I'm wondering if we should be recommending these templates. 
The database status indicators do #1 (show the conclusion that DNA has been confirmed) in a more robust way, technically speaking. We can use the database status indicators to do lots of things like illustrate DNA confirmations in trees that wouldn't be possible with templates.
We'd still been assuming we'd need templates for #2, showing the source of the DNA conclusions. But maybe it's better just to recommend typical source citations, i.e. a bullet point in the Sources section of a profile.
I see two advantages in using conventional source citations:
Simplicity makes this easier. The great majority of WikiTreers don't understand DNA confirmation or templates. You don't really need to understand wiki transclusion to use templates, but recommending templates does add some complication to an already complicated set of recommendations. Anything we can do to simplify is good.
Consistency makes this easier. Treating DNA sources like other genealogy sources may help genealogists understand why citing DNA sources is necessary. It seems like every genealogist learned the important lesson about sourcing at some point. Even though DNA sources are fundamentally different from other genealogy sources in some ways, the reason to cite sources is the same. Since advanced genealogists already understand that reason, we'd be leveraging that.
What are the advantages of using templates instead of conventionally-formatted sources?
By the way, even if the recommended style is to use conventionally-formatted sources, people who are using the templates wouldn't have to stop. I think we'd just recommend that from now on they also add conventional sources instead of or in addition to the templates they're using. And we'd remove mention of templates from the basic instructions on usage of Confirmed with DNA.
What do you think?
in Policy and Style by Chris Whitten G2G Astronaut (1.2m points)

4 Answers

+7 votes
At the moment I believe it is best to use both DNA oonfirmed templates (at least for Y-DNA and mtDNA) and Confirmed with DNA for parental relationship.  The template (and the DNA Conformation Tool) make it easier to verify another person's "confirmation".  I'm concerned some peoples citations regarding parent-child relationships may lack the necessary evidence to show others the relatioship really is confirmed.

Spending just a few hours with it I have been able to use Y-DNA, auDNA (Trangulated Groups), and X-DNA (match between two males) to CONFIRM relationships :-)

I am enjoying a new perspective on trying to see what DNA testing of various relatives can be employed to confirm specific parent-child relationships in my ancestry.  I found that once a paricular relationship is confirmed then I don't really need to keep reconfirming it with other DNA test results.

Sincerely, Peter
by Peter Roberts G2G6 Pilot (546k points)

My concern about recommending two methods at the same time is that we're raising the bar for users.

One thing I've learned in 20 years of developing online communities: simplicity is key.

The more complicated we make this, the less people will use it.

Even worse, the more complicated we make this, the more people will misuse it.

I think this is parallel to the issue of sourcing on WikiTree in general.

One of our central problems (really a problem with any genealogy site) is that people aren't always citing their sources.

We have contributed to this problem by making it easier to add facts than to add sources for those facts.

The easier we make sourcing, the more it will be done. The harder we make it, the less it will be done.

If we want people to cite their sources for DNA conclusions we need to make it a priority to make it as easy as possible.
Genetic genealogy is a powerful tool when used correctly.  I believe AncestryDNA is a good example of trying to make it easy for users to the detriment of the greater community.

The current Y-DNA and mtDNA templates are not easy for most people to use but when they are used properly they are REALLY helpful.  I believe it is too soon to consider scrapping those templates.  I hope we hang on to the DNA Confirmation Tool.  The haplotype and mitotype comparisons make verification much easier.
Nobody is talking about getting rid of the DNA Ancestor Confirmation Aid!

(For others, see as an example.)

Now that we have the Confirmed with DNA status indicators we can make the ACA much more valuable. We can show which relationships have been confirmed.

Is there something we're doing in the templates that can't easily be done in plain wiki text? If so, maybe we should be thinking about using templates but putting them as bullet points in the sources section.

Perhaps the next step would be to try to format the current y and mt templates as bullet point sources?
Thanks Chris,

How might it look if the current y and mt templates were formated as bullet point sources?  I'm not seeing a image of that in my mind.

Sincerely, Peter
I'll take a shot right now at formatting the one on your profile as a bullet-point source.

I went to your profile Peter and discovered you'd already been doing it with a footnote!

You could just add the links from the template. Try swapping in this as the first line of your bio:

Peter J. Roberts is the son of Bert L. Roberts<ref>Paternal relationship is confirmed by a 37 out of 37 Y-DNA marker match between [ this Family Tree DNA yDNA test] for Peter Roberts] and [ this Family Tree DNA yDNA test] of his paternal line cousin [[Roberts-7266]].</ref>
Hello Chris,

I made the change and I like it.

Thanks and sincerely, Peter
Hell! I feel out of the loop!  Now I KNOW I need to go get my Y search IDs in for all my Y participants!  LOL  As if I don't have enough already, but I LOVE the shortcut--who did that?!? KUDOS!!


back to reading the thread....
To be honest, I'd like to see what Peter had in the footnote before the change. I find that the graphical template in the bio is easier to follow/understand than the current footnote source line--so based on that, I'd definitely hate to see the graphical template go way and will continue to use it myself.  And I have others I need to add it to.

PETER WHERE DO YOU FIND THE TIME?!?  LOL  I may copy some of what you've done with your DNA on your bio..oh wait, no one will see it until I'm dead! LOL  (stalker issue)  I can do it on my deceased folks though...hmmm...wheels are rolling!

..on I go...
+10 votes
Just a comment -- I agree with the philosophy of keeping things as simple as possible.  When you provide users several different ways to do something, they will use all of them, and that makes for additional confusion when people are trying to navigate through the profiles of different managers.  In a single worldwide tree, there is some value in having a degree of consistency and commonality across all profiles.  It quickly conditions people to know what to expect and where to look for the data they're seeking.
by Dennis Barton G2G6 Pilot (395k points)
+6 votes

Do we have any good examples of using the autosomal template?!?!?

I feel that when we are using a churchbook as a source ==> the source is transparent for the reader ==> the reader can find the churchbook and check what we claim

With DNA the source is our own DNA ==> we need to quote

  1. were the source is located ==> our DNA = a FTDNA kit number or GEDMATCH id
  2. what segments we have a match on and the cM

==> what we have proven can be recreated by others

User stories

DNA-1 A user would like to check why a relationship has been confirmed with DNA and be able to recreate the result

DNA-2 A user thinks he is related to a person and would like to see if his relationship is the same as another person with confirmed DNA ==> be able to see that they have a match in the same segments

What if

  1. FTDNA is getting bankrupt? Does that mean we lose the source
  2. A test person dies? ==> we cant recreate the test. Should we have a place were we upload the DNA test result? Is that wikitree?
by C S G2G6 Pilot (274k points)
edited by C S

There is no autosomal DNA template. Only one for mtDNA and one for yDNA.

I completely agree For Confirmed with DNA we need GEDmatch IDs, and chromosome number, segment start and stop numbers and cM.

For example see:

for Mary's relationship with her mother I have

Maternal relationship is confirmed by a triangulated group consisting of Peter Roberts GEDmatch F008867, Kris Sjostrom GEDmatch A936004 and Elizabeth Collins GEDmatch FE16264 sharing a 10.8 cM segment on chromosome 1 from 163621974 to 173712569.


Good points, Magnus. As Peter and I have talked about extensively, I do like the idea of including GEDMatch links when possible. Or DNAGedcom links when they add the capability to upload raw results. We've thought about hosting raw results at WikiTree but decided that would be too much for us.

Although I think having your results available for independent verification at a third-party site is a great thing -- a definite plus -- it shouldn't be mandatory. To Magnus's point about FTDNA going out of business, I think there's a much greater chance that GEDMatch goes out of business. As it is, I know those guys have trouble with all the demands on their servers.
+8 votes
Oh my Chris!  I definitely agree with simplicity.

Many of us are not at the expert level of DNA knowledge and how to use it. I think that most of us, however, can understand the concept of triangulation.  (Two different ancestral lines lead down to a common DNA ancestor, creating three points of a triangle.)  I like the Confirmed by DNA option and adding a source in the Sources area.  I also like having other more detailed options available for the experts to use.  

I think it is important to help all who invest in a DNA test to use the data to find their biological family truths, whatever their level of genetic understanding.
by Kitty Smith G2G6 Pilot (546k points)
Regarding triangulation, I would like to point out that genetic genealogists talk about it in two different ways.  The first is with Y-DNA testing of paternal line cousins and triangulating to infer the ancestral haplotype of their most recent direct paternal line ancestor.  Similar for mtDNA.  The second is triangulated groups (TGs) where three or more cousins all match each other (overlap) on the same segment (of sufficient size) of their autosomal DNA or X-DNA.  That segment came from their shared ancestor.  I'm concerned that most genealogists and many DNA testers don't understand triangulation.

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