James, hello.? It's an interesting situation that folks face when they consider taking their DNA test (or sponsoring some kinfolk who respresents an ancestral family)? There are several possible scenarios:
1. The easiest - a large, well run Surname Project already exists.? The newbie can expect a good chance of matching someone of their surname who has already tested.? Their ancestry is linked into the other known ancestries and they immediately become a part of a "Community"? There are less than 1000, possibly only a few hundred projects in this class.
2. The next easiest - a small, often recently started project exists.? The newbie joins in, possibly finding a match and posssibly putting their result in place for a future match.? Some of the smaller projects are wonderfully well-run and offer all the advantages of the large projects.? Others have little structure or web presence and don't provide the wide range of support.
3. The unknown - a brand new project.? ?In this situation, the test taker knows they won't match someone of their surname (unless there is a hiddden result somewhere)? They are a pioneer, and will help set the tone of their surname's project.? Like the option above, some of these projects will be wonderfully run and others will stumble along.
4. The scary situation - no Surname Project exists.? If the researcher isn't comfortable with dna, with leading, with building a project - most will either test on their own or simply wait.? Some will bravely begin their own project.
It is against this backdrop that World Families Network began its operation of providing websites and information, and ultimately starting Surname Projects.? Currently, we are establishing projects, based on our experience, to help other families have the same opportunity. We have partnered with Family Tree DNA, the premier DNA testing company, and our arrangement provides us with a small commission on each order, which we hope will allow us to keep doing this indefinitely. Our overall plan is to start, and then nurture the projects, to find good leadership to take them over, to provide the project admin with ever-improving tools to manage their project, and to have fun doing something we enjoy. (Finding that common ancestor, proving a long held theory, or puzzling out a surprising result are all exciting to me. I now have over 20 ancestral surname projects for my own family, which range from the 10th largest in the world (Barton), to a handful with 1-15 members and another group with no participants at this time)
We are glad to start a Surname Project when one doesn't already exist at FTDNA, to provide a website for a Surname Project needing one, or to welcome a person who would like to become c-admin on one or more of our WFN-sponsored projects, as they build skills with the intent of ultimately taking full leadership - or of continuing as a co-leader.
One of the exciting things we see is the match of results in different surnames.? This is a constant challenge to interpret, with some useful linkages occurring and many false leads investigated.? Family Tree DNA's y-search database is an easy way to find those matches and is particularly useful for folks in smaller projects, as it gives them an early focus.? There is also a smaller public database called y-base, which can provide matches not stored at y-search.? ?We recommend putting your results in both - the unload to y-search can be done with a few keystrokes by those tested at FTDNA.? Others must manually enter their results.? Here's the page where you can access the yDNA databases:? http://worldfamilies.net/helpful_tools.htm