Archiver > GENEALOGY-DNA > 2011-11 > 1322110560

From: Keith Britton <>
Subject: Re: [DNA] Problems with some surname project admins
Date: Wed, 23 Nov 2011 23:56:00 -0500
References: <>
In-Reply-To: <>

What's the purpose of an FTDNA surname project? It was probably clear
enough in the beginning when an administrator had family data and interest
in derivation of the name, ancestral history, plus interest in DNA and
genealogy which extended to deeper origins than that accessible by classic
genealogical means. From FTDNA's perspective, and reasonably, DNA was
paramount and such support as was available was limited to that area. Now
memberships are numerous and heterogeneous, so what remains in purpose(s)
common to a project's members?

As Lindsey points out, generally there will be family groups, but with few
of those related within millennia, and commonly the surname will carry no
special significance in origin. A surname project is then perhaps most
useful in identifying like named who are NOT related. Within families, DNA
- at least as presented and supported by FTDNA - seems generally of little
use for genealogical purposes. That's unfortunate, because the principal
interests within families lies in the non-DNA areas listed above - which
FTDNA does not support, either directly or by design of its facilities. Is
the admin now the surrogate expected to serve the membership needs in those
areas? Is there now clear divergence between the purposes of project
membership and those of FTDNA?

Some fraction of admins will be duds, by temperament or ability, that's the
human condition. Some others will be, or will be perceived to be,
unsatisfactory because they do not conform to standards as viewed by
project membership, FTDNA or this list. If FTDNA rules, it needs to set
down explicit project purpose(s) and performance expectations; if the admin
does, then a clear statement of project purpose and limitations is needed -
required and evaluated by FTDNA prior to project formation. Either way, if
FTDNA ensures that sign up for project membership requires a prospective
member to be made aware of the purpose and limitations statement, there are
then clear criteria for judgement regarding admin and project.

This does not, of course, touch the question of whether Family Tree hosting
is really satisfactory to anyone. Nor, perhaps more to the point, whether
it will prove so in the future. Even those primarily concerned with DNA
data as presented in classic spreadsheet form are antsy about support for
111 markers, opaque and limited "match" algorythms, for examples. Willing,
but tiring and aging admins, if they are to provide the service(s) members
would like and to attract newbies, need support with website maintenance
and management, advanced matching, TMCRA and other calculations, tree and
other display routines. As data accumulates *in the hobby sector*, more can
be done to facilitate classical genealogical research, but only if tools
are available, understood, and simple for admins to use - and they must
cater for an heterogeneous mix of marker availability and source.

Probably best would be a community website with essentially unlimited
access to a large database, a wiki, a suite of explanations and Q&As for
newbies. This is essentially the direction DNAH was attempting to go when
it folded. As data accumulates *in the hobby sector*, more can be done
with it as a resource for academic study. And, importantly, more
opportunity appears for hobby contributors to seed innovation which will
later benefit both commercial and academic. Wiki software is available
free, open source, and in great variety. Given what's seen on this list,
some level of moderation would seem needed, available in Enterprise Wiki
programs. Argument could be diverted to sandboxes (remembering what's
usually found in a sandbox) to keep pages stable and prune such from busy
lists and traffic further reduced by a list footer pointing novices at the
wiki. Even Project introductions could be carried as pages, with a
selected reference and link fan out.


On Sat, Nov 5, 2011 at 2:22 PM, Lplantagenet <> wrote:

> One problem with surname projects--especially the large projects, --is
> that most people aren't related to each other. We have 27 different
> families in my Britton project and many others have even more.
> Administrators can't possibly become effectively involved with the
> genetics and genealogy of so many families and haplogroups. The only
> thing most of these families have in common is the historical accident of
> their surname.

This thread: