Your Y-DNA Matches at FTDNA

Understand your Y-DNA Matches at FTDNA 
 
To see whom you match and how closely, you will first want to go to your personal page at FTDNA, myFTDNA.  Log in at www.familytreedna.com using your kit number and the password they sent you when your kit was returned. 

Where can I find an explanation of how to interpret my results?
If you have not already, you may want to click on "Interpret Your Results" in the lower left corner of your myFTDNA page.  This will download an ebook that will explain what your results mean. 
 
Where will I find my matches?
To see who you "match" with your yDNA results, log in at www.familytreedna.com to see your myFTDNA page.  Then click on "Matches" under "Y-DNA" near the middle of the page.  You will see a list of the men whose test results matches closely enough to confirm a common ancestor, identified by name.  Any of these matches who have joined your surname project will also appear on the "y-Results" page of your project's website, identified by kit number and earliest known ancestor. 
 
How do I sort my matches?
  • Near the top of the page is a section to "Filter Matches". 
    • The default display selects "The Entire Database", and the highest number of markers you have tested, and the distance "All" (any matches)
    • Start with the default selections
      • the best matches are generally those at the highest number of markers 
      • the entire database will include all or almost all the members of your surname project, plus any other men who have tested who match your results.
      • If you have too many matches at "All", change the filter to show you only matches at only 0, 1, 2, 3, or 4 steps, depending on the number of markers you had tested..
What information will it show me about each match?
  • Your match's list will give you the following information
    • By clicking the match's name, you will see all the information he has shared.
    • By clicking the symbol to the right of his name, you can send him an email.
    • The TIP symbol to the right of his name takes you to a comparison chart for the probabilty that you shared a common ancestor within a certain number of generations.  This is a statistical derivation.  For example, if you see "40% at 4 generations", that means that 40% of the men you match at that comparison level will share a most recent common ancestor with you in 4 generations or less)
    • The notepad symbol gives you a place to make notes of any information you obtain about this person.
    • If your match has uploaded a GEDCOM there will be a blue symbol to the right of his name and the other icons. 
    • You can see how may markers your matches have had tested (Y-DNA37 or YDNA67 or YDNA111).  This is important, as your matches are most significant when the match is made at the highest number of markers. 
      • If your match has tested at more markers, you will probably want to upgrade to the same number to see if the match holds up.
      • If you have tested at a higher number of markers, change your settings to the higher number to see if the match holds up.  He may match you at 25 markers, but disappear at 37 markers.  (That means the 25 marker comparison was a False Match)
      • If your matches have tested at fewer markers than you, you will want to encourage them to upgrade to see if the match holds up. 
    • You will be able to see the "Most Distant Ancestor" for your matches who have provided them.  Look down the list to see if any look familiar.
    • You will be see which of your matches have been SNP-tested, as they will have an extended Haplogroup.
    • If you see to the right of his name FF, this indicates that your match has taken the Family Finder test. 

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How do I evaluate which matches I should contact?
  • Use this method to quickly evaluate which matches are worth pursuing:
    • Start with your matches at the highest number of markers you have had tested.  You will be most interested in matches at this level.
      • You should only consider the highest comparison level for each man you match
      • Once you find that you are matching at - say 67 markers, the quality of the comparison at 37, 25 or 12 markers is no longer relevant
      • For example, if you were tested at 67 markers, look first at your 67 Marker Matches to see if you have "better" matches (GD = 0, 1, 2, 3, 4)  These are your most important matches
        • Notice how many have (Y-DNA111) beside their name.  This means that these men have been tested at 111 markers, so you may want to consider upgrading to 111 yourself to see if there is any better insight at the higher comparison level 
        • Even if you only have higher Genetic Distance matches (GD = 5, 6, 7) with different surnames, don't completely dismiss them, as they may still have value. 
      • Choose to show only exact matches, or those that miss by one marker or two markers, or all matches.  If you have many matches, you can consider these as your "better" matches.  (remember to only compare at the highest available level for each match)
        • At 67 markers, Genetic Distance of 0, 1, 2, 3, 4
        • At 37 markers, Genetic Distance of 0, 1, 2
        • At 25 markers, We don't believe there are "better" matches and recommend that you (or your match) upgrade so that the comparison can be done with at least 37 markers
      • Next,  change the filter to "37" Markers category to see if you have close matches there
        • Look at each of the matches to see if they have a parenthesis after the name with Y-DNA67 or Y-DNA111 in it.  If they do, that means you have already evaluated them as matches when you looked at the 67 marker comparison.  Either there was a match at 67 or the match did not hold up at the higher resolution.  In either case, you are no longer interested in them at the 37 marker comparison level.
        • Only consider the men to 37 markers.  Your "better" matches have a GD = 0, 1, 2.  You can include them with your "better" 67 marker matches when you begin contacting your matches
      • Next, you can quickly look at your 25 marker matches.
        • Again, you are only interested in those who have only tested at the highest number of markers in this category--25 markers.
        • If a man is of particular interest because of his surname or Most Distant Ancestor, you can contact him, express your interest and encourage him to upgrade to at least 37 markers.
        • Most serious researchers do not even evaluate or display their 12 and 25 marker comparisons (unless those are the only ones they have) 
      • 12 markers is generally considered too few to confirm a common ancestor., except in the following circumstances
        • Only if you do not have any significant matches at 67, 37 or 25 markers, is it probably worth looking at the "12" Marker comparisons.
        • If a man is of particular interest because of his surname or Most Distant Ancestor, you can contact him, express your interest and encourage him to upgrade to at least 37 markers
        • A solid paper trail connection exist between the two men.  (the 12/12 match is usually considered sufficient for confirmation)
        • In determining if two men are related, no match at 12 markers can confirm that the two men do not share a recent common ancestor
      • Here is a real example of why comparing at the highest number of markers available is so important. 
        • Two men are were both tested at 67 markers.
        • A comparison at the highest level available (67 markers) confirms they do not share recent common ancestry.  (55/67)
        • Had one of the two men been tested only to 37 markers, the comparison would show they might be a match (32/37) and that an upgrade to 67 marker was needed to obtain clarity. 
        • If the two men had only tested at 25 markers, they would have been a perfect match at 25/25.  And, of course, at 12 markers, they were a perfect 12/12 match.
        • Had one of the men been tested at only 25 or 12, there would have been a false indication of a match and recent shared ancestry. 
        • That is why we are cautious at 25 markers and very cautious at 12 markers. 
        • We repeat - ONLY compare at the highest level available.
What does a match mean, based on number of markers tested and number of matching markers?
(note: "share a common ancestor" means during the genealogical era)
 
  • For those who tested at 111 markers:
    • Still being studied.  Conventional wisdom is that 100/111 or better indicates a recent shared common paternal ancestor
  • For those who tested a maximum of 67 markers:
    • Less than 60/67 – the two participants probably do not share a recent common ancestor.  If you have some reason to believe there is shared ancestry - increase to 111 markers and re-evaluate. 
    • 60/67 and 61/67 - the two participants may share a common ancestor from the early days of surnames. Increase to 111 markers and re-evaluate. 
    • 62/67 and better - researchers consider these to be a match - indicating a recent shared common ancestor.
    • This test is recommended when comparing to others with a different surname.
    • This test is particularly useful in trying to better understand a large genetic family
    • BOTTOM LINE: this test has become the standard for comparison
  • For those who tested a maximum of 37 markers:
    • Less than 31/37 – the two participants do not share a common ancestor
    • 31/37 and 32/37 - the two participants have a small possibility that may share a common ancestor from the early days of surnames. This is an area with little clear insight. Increase to at least 37 markers and re-evaluate.  Continue to increase the comparison level until the match is clearly defined (or refuted)
    • 33/37 - some researchers consider this to be a match and some don't. If there is a shared common ancestor - it will likely be more than a few 100s of years ago.  If there is no shared paper trail, increase to at least 67 markers and re-evaluate.  Continue to increase the comparison level until the match is clearly defined (or refuted)
    • 34/37, 35/37, 36/37 & 37/37 - the participants share a common ancestor
    • The large increase in testing activity, particularly in men with Northern European paternal heritage has diminished the value of 37 marker comparisons.  Whenever there is a large number of matches or numerous matches with other surnames, increase the comparison level
    • BOTTOM LINE: We consider 37 markers to be the lowest appropriate comparison level for those of different surnames (unless they have connecting paper trails.)
  • For those who tested a maximum of 25 markers:
    CAUTION: a 25/25 match - particularly when surnames are different - can be a random match. If a solid paper trail supports the match, you can be reasonably certain of recent shared ancestry, but without the connecting paper trail - you can only be sure by upgrading to at least 37 markers
    • Less than 21/25 – the two participants do not share a common ancestor*
    • 21/25 & 22/25 – there is a small chance that the participants share a common ancestor. Consider all of the traditional genealogy insights and try to obtain more participants to represent the affected families. Upgrade to at least 37 markers
    • 23/25, 24/25 & 25/25 – there is a high probability that participants who share a surname share a common ancestor. If there is no shared paper trail, increase to at least 37 markers and re-evaluate.  Continue to increase the comparison level until the match is clearly defined (or refuted)
    • Historically, researchers have considered a 25 marker comparison to be sufficient if you share a surname and match at 23/25 or better.  However - the large increase in testing activity, particularly in men with Northern European paternal heritage has diminished the value of 25 marker comparisons.  Whenever there is a large number of matches or numerous matches with other surnames, increase the comparison level
    • BOTTOM LINE: this test can be useful in some situations.  Consider testing a minimum of 37 markers
    For those who tested a maximum of 12 markers:
    CAUTION: a 12/12 match - even with the same surname - can be a random match. If a solid paper trail supports the 12/12 match, you can be reasonably certain of recent shared ancestry, but without the connecting paper trail - you can only be sure by upgrading to at least 25 markers and preferably 37 markers
    • Less than 9/12 – the two participants do not share a common ancestor* (The author is aware of a single case where a 8/12 become an accepted genetic match after upgrading sufficiently to have a valid comparison.   The paper trails had already indicated that match)
    • 9/12 - there is a tiny chance that the participants share a common ancestor. You'll need to test at least 37 markers to find a true shared genetic match that starts with such a low match. (The author has not yet personally seen a 9/12 become an accepted genetic match - but has heard of an occurrence)
    • 10/12 – there is a small chance that the participants share a common ancestor. Increase to at least 25 markers and re-evaluate.  Continue to increase the comparison level until the match is clearly defined (or refuted)
    • 11/12 and 12/12 – there is an improved chance that the participants share a common ancestor. Increase to at least 25 markers and re-evaluate.  Continue to increase the comparison level until the match is clearly defined (or refuted)
    • A 12-marker match is generally inadequate for genealogy purposes.
    • Most researchers will not respond to a contact about a 12-marker match.
    • Many researchers don't even allow comparison of their 12-marker results.
    • Use this test to collect a DNA sample when cash flow is an issue and further testing will follow 
    • BOTTOM LINE: this test can be useful in very limited situations.  Consider testing a minimum of 37 markers

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How important are the Ancestral Origins of my matches?
If you have not reported your own paternal or maternal country of origin, and you are confident of this information, click on "Manage Personal Information", then click "Genealogy".  Then click "Most Distant Ancestors" and fill in the blank for "Country of Origin" for your patern line.  Then click "Update Location" under Ancestral Locations" and "Direct Paternal" to open a map that shows  the location of your ancestral locations.
  • Click on "Ancestral Origins" in the Y-DNA section of your myFTDNA page.  This page:
    • Shows you the countries of origins reported by those whose yDNA test results match yours.
    • It's important to note both the number of matches you have for a country and how many people in the database have reported that country of origin.  (For example, if you have 6 matches from England and 3 from France, you may want to focus more on France, as the number of people from France who have been tested is so much smaller - this means that the proportion from France who match you is much higher.)
    • This information is given to you in the Percentage column on the right.
    • Percentages above 2% are considered significant, and percentages above 4% are considered highly significant.
How important are the Haplogroup Origins of my matches?
If you have not reported your own paternal or maternal country of origin, and you are confident of this information, click on "Manage Personal Information", then click "Genealogy".  Then click "Most Distant Ancestors" and fill in the blank for "Country of Origin" for your patern line.  Then click "Update Location" under Ancestral Locations" and "Direct Paternal" to open a map that shows  the location of your ancestral locations.
  • Click on "Haplogroup Origins" in the Y-DNA section of your myFTDNA Page.  This page:
    • Tells you the Haplogroup of your matches.  The longer, more detailed Haplogroup designations are for those who have been SNP tested.
    • Tells you the range of places in which relatives of your ancestors may have lived. 
    • It's important to note both the number of matches you have for a country and how many people in the database have reported that country of origin.  (For example, if you have 6 matches from England and 3 from France, you may want to focus more on France, as the number of people from France who have been tested is so much smaller - this means that the proportion from France who match you is much higher.)  This information is given to you in the Percentage column on the right. 
    • Percentages above 2% are considered significant   Percentages above 4% are considered highly significant.
 
How can I contact a member of the project whom I match on the project's Results Page?
We are happy to put you in touch with a project member, if you will send us an email with the project's name and the person's kit number, along with the message you would like to send to him. 
 
It is probable that this person is listed among your matches on your personal page at FTDNA, but it may be hard to identify him, since kit numbers are not included in your matches on FTDNA’s personal page, and results are reported by kit number and Earliest Known Ancestor on the project’s results page. You may be able to cross check by the Earliest Known Ancestor (if given). It is best to keep a record of the email address and the date of your contact for anyone on your matches page so that you will know which ones have been contacted. However, most people are gracious about being contacted again, so don’t be too worried about emailing someone twice about a match.
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