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Tip 10: 23andMe Tips and Tricks

Ancestry and 23andme are totally different when it comes to ease of use. Because most people only use Ancestry, they tend to think it is easier. But the people who love 23andme, swear it is easier. From my point of view, it is just a matter of where your matches are.
On Ancestry, if you are an adoptee and have no clue on either parent to start with, you can often divide your matches up into groups fairly easily. If you have a 2C, and you go to the profile and choose Shared Matches, you immediately have most of the important matches for one grandparent. If you only have a 3C, you get a smaller group. But it is a definite group. But is this on your father or mother’s side? I happen to enjoy using cluster tools. You can use DNAgedcom.com to create those clusters. DNAgedcom.com does not always work with 23andme. You can try it but if it does not work, use GeneticAffairs to run it. This saves so much time and effort that I really urge people to use clustering tools. However, do not just assume that it is a perfect picture of a specific group.
Another option is to group manually using the Leeds Method. https://www.danaleeds.com/the-leeds-method/
The biggest problem with grouping matches comes up when you have endogamy in a group. This happens when a group comes from a small geographical area and intermarries so that your matches may have married into the group. On Ancestry, you are looking at a list and it says A B C D are all matches of Mary. On 23andme, you can tell that A is a first cousin of Mary, B is an 8 cM match to Mary, etc. It is clear at this point, that the 8 cM match is immaterial. Concentrate on the 1C match and how you match both of them. This is the big advantage of 23andme.
In the clusters, each of the boxes is supposed to contain the matches to a certain ancestor. In theory, the larger boxes are to the closest ancestors. You can think of them as one for each grandparent. That is strictly in theory. In fact, the size of the boxes depends on the numbers of matches. Some families test, some don’t. When you see these grey boxes, it means that someone matches more than one group of matches. This may mean endogamy.
The other thing you need to do on 23andme is download the Chromosome browser. At the bottom of the page listing all your DNA relatives, there is a box saying: Request DNA Relatives Data Download.
You will need to use some kind of spreadsheet program to open this. One of the things about the spreadsheet is that you can search it. If your maternal Haplogroup is listed as H1, you can search for everyone who has an H1 haplogroup. This is not the complete Haplogroup, but it can be used to eliminate. For men, look for your Y Haplogroup and your maternal haplogroup. Look for the one showing up on 23andme, not the one you received if you tested on FTDNA. If you have an unusual Haplogroup male or female, you can narrow down maternal vs paternal relatives.
Men receive X match only from their mother because they get the Y from their father. Women get X from fathers AND mothers. So, suppose that a male is looking for his father. If he finds someone he shares X with, that match is on his mother’s side. But maybe you asked your sister to test. She matches one of your paternal matches with X. You can now assume that this person is on your grandmother’s side. This helps so much in trying to narrow down who you are looking for in a group. You can’t do this kind of thing on any other site. MH does not show X. Ancestry does not show anything about the chromosome browser. FTDNA has X, but only YOUR X. You can’t tell if two other people share it. Gedmatch is great for this, but frankly, getting people onto it is a chore.
If you know some of the surnames of interest from Ancestry, you can also search that download for those surnames. Then you can go back to 23andme and find the person and look at their whole profile to see if there are any towns etc, or other information. If there are exactly three names on the list, any interesting thing occurs.
There is a problem with married women as matches. Lots of women have been married so long that think of their husband’s name as their own. Today is my 62nd anniversary. So on my kit, 23andme
included my married name as one of my surnames. I was somewhat surprised to find this out. I have not changed it because my name is the same on every site. If you use a different name here and there, you will cause endless confusion.
The download does not include locations unfortunately. But you can check that by hand. At the bottom of the profile page, there is a place for notes. Be sure and put everything you have discovered there. After you have looked at 20 matches, you might not remember everything.
If you are lucky, you may find someone on 23andme who also tested on Ancestry and MyHeritage. If so, and you can see a good group, you can assume that this group is the same as the group on Ancestry. So, you can look at all these things for extra information.
If you are brand new to 23andme, you should look at this very basic class on it. We have basic lessons on all of the testing sites. So, you should read all of them when you start. https://dnaadoption.org/classes/free-classes/
Kitty Cooper on using X match. https://blog.kittycooper.com/category/dna-genealogy/x-chromosome/
June Byrne

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