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From: "Lancaster-Boon" <>
Subject: [DNA] Are the testing companies being guided to invest in the wrongthings for genealogy?
Date: Sat, 13 Mar 2010 08:33:39 +0100


I think many posts have touched on this question. I want to raise it in a
clear way. It is being forgotten and put aside too much.

First let me say that I have done 23andMe testing and FGS testing, and I
continue to be interested in such advances personally. I also appreciate
that some people do manage to use autosomal and mitochondrial testing in
ways which help genealogy.

I also certainly do not want to blame the testing companies who are
investing in anything. They are creative and they are taking clever risks
and closely watching what people will pay for.

They have also correctly understood that they are dealing with a complicated
market in the genetic genealogy community: the money comes from a large
number of genealogists, but this market is GUIDED by a slightly smaller
number of technically proficient volunteers within that community who are
relatively more interested in technical subjects and population genetics.

Many of the genealogists also understand and respect this by the way, and
are interested and patient while they watch the "R and D work" in other
fields. I am not trying to say that people are simply stupid or being
swindled. Genetic genealogy is if anything a poster child for benevelont
interaction between private enterprise and community.

HOWEVER, to come to the point, the fact remains that when genealogists ask
me whether such testing can help them I generally say no, and that it is
almost always better to spend your money on Y DNA testing: more STR markers,
and even (increasingly) SNP testing.

For now, Y DNA is the only type of testing which will consistently help a
genealogist. There is a lot more we can do with Y DNA, and much of what we
can do has been obvious now for years.

However, despite the fact that our market is driven by a demand for aids to
genealogy, the testing companies are investing in the opposite direction.

There is a market not being served. There is a business opportunity.

For genealogy we need:-

1. Short term. More STR markers, and those STR markers to more easily usable
in the lrgest possible databases.

2. Long term. The standardization of the use of SNP discovery as a part of
genealogy.

FT DNA are clearly the leaders in both these areas, since their takeover of
DNA FP, but just as clearly FT DNA have put aside both these priorities over
the last few years, and treated Y DNA as a lower priority. Just for example,
in this best case:-

*Advanced tests can not be compared to FT DNA's famous database, nor placed
into ysearch for the most part, and even the notifications system for the
results is defective.

*And despite the enormous interest it generates, the discovery of new SNPs
is apparently seen as a kind of non-profit service and not a product at all!
The first few results for all newly discovered SNPs are deliberately never
placed into customer or admin records (because they were not paid for), even
if they later become a major interest, making it almost impossible to make
them useful. It is effectively like deliberately crippling a new product.

*Admins can not even get a simple tabular listing of advanced STR results,
nor any SNP results, for any project from FT DNA, (after how many years?).

In part they are doing this because of the interest they see amongst the
community leaders, who sometimes also forget about the needs of genealogy.

You could almost say that the pure genealogists are effectively funding an
investment program for the hobbyist population geneticists. Like I said
above, that is not necessarily a bad or sinister thing BUT...

...we must not forget genealogy and we must not forget how many obvious
improvements could be made to the services available for Y DNA.

Comments?

Best Regards
Andrew


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