Introducing “DNA Match Labeling” – A Sorting Mechanism for AncestryDNA Matches!

Many DNA test takers have a wealth of genetic relatives! For example, I have more than 50,000 different genetic cousins across all the genealogy DNA testing companies. Although many regions of the world do not yet have 1,000’s of genetic cousins in their match lists, they will in the future as DNA testing grows increasingly popular and the testing companies target other countries.

Unfortunately, the testing companies have not provided users with the tools necessary to organize these matches. Indeed, clustering and organization of genetic cousins is a huge component of the future of DNA evidence. Clustering of our matches allows us to identify information that is not visible or apparent when the matches are unorganized.

This is where the DNA Match Labeling extension for Chrome comes in! I worked with a programmer to build this extension.

A browser extension is a small piece of software that resides on your computer and adds functionality to YOUR browser. No one else will see the results of this browser. This software does not affect your information at Ancestry, as that information is stored on Ancestry’s servers. What this tool does do is affect how you see your AncestryDNA data, by adding a small dot to every match that can be filled in with one of 8 different colors. Here’s an example of three matches each labeled with one of the eight colors:

Installation of DNA Match Labeling

The extension can be found at the Chrome Web Store (click the link or search for “DNA Match Labeling” in the store). Click on “Add to Chrome,” give it the necessary permissions, and it will be added to your Chrome browser.

 

Once installed, you’ll see a new table at the top of each kit you admin at AncestryDNA. Each kit you admin in your Ancestry account will have its own unique table! Here’s my table.

Each of your matches will have an empty white dot next to their name on both your list of matches and on each individual match page:

If the match is one that you haven’t yet reviewed, you’ll see the DNA Match Labeling empty dot below the usual blue “new match” dot as in this image:

You’re now ready to fill in the dots with color!

Using DNA Match Labeling

The first step in using this extension is to decide what the colors will represent. In this particular application, I’m using only the first four colors and I’m assigning them to each of my four grandparents:

Now, when I assign a red dot to a match, I am indicating to myself that the match is related to me through my paternal grandfather Roy Bettinger. Similarly, if I assign a yellow dot to a match, I am indicating to myself that the match is related to me through my maternal grandmother Jane Garcia.

To assign a color, click the dot next to a match’s name. The color dot selector will pop up:

Click one of the colors, and that color will permanently (but reversibly!) fill in the dot. In this example, I selected the green dot for this match:

This coloring will appear for this match both on my main match page and in the individual match page for J.R.:

I can also change the color, including back to empty white, on either the main match page or in the individual match.

One of the best benefits of the DNA Match Labeling tool is as a very clear visual indicator when using the AncestryDNA Shared Matches tool. In this example, I’m checking for matches with Haruto, and I see that all of the closest shared matches have been labeled with the green color! I can instantly formulate a hypothesis that this match is related through the ancestor I’ve assigned to the green color! I’ve proven nothing, but it is an excellent hypothesis that I can now test with additional evidence.

How are you using the tool? What discoveries have you made?

Limitations of DNA Match Labeling

The tool does NOT allow for sorting or searching using these colors. Additionally, if you label “John Doe 123” with a red dot in YOUR kit, that labeling will not carry over to the same “John Doe 123” in another kit.

You also cannot add more than one color dot to a match. Typically this is a close relative related on multiple lines, in which case you typically know who they are. For cases of more distant pedigree collapse or endogamy, there may be creative ways to address this, such as assigning a color to a certain cluster or group of ancestors. The use of the tool is limited only by your imagination!

Additionally, my apologies to those with color vision or small dot vision challenges. If I were redoing this from scratch I would use colored shapes with eight different shapes each being a different color. Unfortunately, the time & cost investment made so far has made that currently infeasible.

These all might be something for a future update (although no changes are planned currently).

20 Responses

  1. Carol A. Preece 17 September 2018 / 8:38 am

    Long awaited. Thanks, Blaine.

  2. Jamie Cox 17 September 2018 / 8:43 am

    You are so right: Ancestry DNA gives us a massive amount of data to look at and kindergarten-level tools for dealing with it.

    Maybe tools like yours will help encourage Ancestry to offer this type of thing natively — *with* sorting and searching. The heck with colors and shapes. I think this needs to be a user defined text field like “Smith”, “Jones”, “unknown maternal”, etc. And, yes, it ought to carry over between tests on the same account.

    Even if Ancestry were to support searching on the contents of the existing comment field, this would help me a lot.

    • Sharon Dankwardt 17 September 2018 / 9:55 am

      Check out MedBetterDNA extension. It shows the notes field for each match on the list, though again not carry over between tests. I wish it did that as well.

  3. Sharon Dankwardt 17 September 2018 / 9:52 am

    Great tool! I need more than eight labels though 🙂

  4. Freda 17 September 2018 / 9:58 am

    What a brilliant tool, I’ve been waiting for something like this.

  5. Kristy O. 17 September 2018 / 10:25 am

    BRAVO!!!! A job well done and so helpful! Thank you!

  6. Patricia R Reed 17 September 2018 / 10:26 am

    In MedBetter DNA filters, I currently use eight colored emoji hearts preceded by hashtags. I can change the color of hearts to match the dots in this extension, and use that extension for sorting. It isn’t as clean as having a sorting process within the DNA Match Labeling extension, but it will do. Would you consider adding sorting as a future enhancement?

    • Blaine T Bettinger 17 September 2018 / 12:32 pm

      I would love to add sorting. It will be a substantial investment, but it would be very handy.

  7. Thomas Dreyer 17 September 2018 / 10:29 am

    Brilliant! and this does not affect the Ancestry blue new matches button because you used a different color, right?

    • Blaine T Bettinger 17 September 2018 / 12:32 pm

      Hi Thomas! It does not affect the Ancestry blue new matches button.

  8. Robert Kelly Dazet 17 September 2018 / 11:08 am

    Thank you Blaine! It works great.
    I had a face-to-face meeting with Ancestry employees a couple weeks ago in Lehi, to give input, and some type of color coding for the different branches of one’s tree is one think I suggested.

    I also let them know, their DNA tools for working with our cousin matches are overall sub-parr compared with the competition, i.e. MyHeritage DNA who includes chromosome browser, triangulation, 5th-8th to 5th-8th cousin matching, and more.

  9. Deborah outland 17 September 2018 / 12:28 pm

    Blaine, this is a great tool! I haven’t downloaded it yet because I saw somewhere that it’s only available on windows machines. My windows computer is my y primary workhorse for dna, but I also use an iPad Pro for some purposes. Will the dots show up on the iPad if I. Work with them on my PC? And could I also. Install the app and work with it on the the iPad?

    Finally, (assuming the app is only for the PC)if I. Install the app on my PC only, will it affect dna result display on the iPad?

    • Blaine T Bettinger 17 September 2018 / 12:31 pm

      Hi Deborah! No, it will not work on your iPad, unfortunately.

      • Deborah outland 17 September 2018 / 4:38 pm

        Thank you Blaine. I ‘m ok with yhat asas long as it won’t affect my use of it on the the pc. I’ll be installing Nguyen it shortly!

  10. Marty Acks 17 September 2018 / 6:25 pm

    Nice addition. Thanks. Now I can start mapping my DNA spreadsheet to AncestryDNA. This will be useful as I analyze more DNA results as I will have to jump back to spreadsheet less frequently to get my bearings.

  11. Bryan 17 September 2018 / 11:18 pm

    If only Ancestry would provide a simple chromosome browser…

  12. Chris W from Sydney, Australia 18 September 2018 / 1:53 am

    Thanks Blaine this will be very useful. One question…. Should the labelling show up if you set it up on one computer and then access it though another? I’ve labelled on my MacBook Pro. When I’ve logged into my iMac, the extension shows up in AncestryDNA but not the labels I’ve named or their assignment to my matches. Am I missing something? Eager to get going on solving some puzzles!

    • Chris W 18 September 2018 / 2:03 am

      Should have read FB group! Just say your comments earlier today about not syncing between computers! Still a great addition….. Thanks

  13. Cathy Cline 18 September 2018 / 8:48 am

    Very helpful! Thank you so much for all your hard work!

  14. Cjen 20 September 2018 / 10:55 pm

    Thank you for reading my mind and putting my thoughts into action. Looks like I’ve got sorting to do.

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