Blog post

Sunday, March 10, 2019

Can I improve my Thrulines?

AncestryDNA’s new beta feature, Thrulines, takes the work out of cobbling together your DNA matches’ trees to try and work out where your connection is. Overall, I think it’s great! It has come up with connections that would have taken me hours to work out on my own.

Of course, it doesn’t always get it right.

I have one particular ‘Potential Ancestor’ suggestion that I know to be incorrect. What’s worse, it suggests replacing my good information about that ancestor with bad.

AncestryDNA Thrulines 'Potential Ancestor' card stamped 'Do not copy' and 'Denied'
Sorry Edward Flower Darcy, you never existed.

Some might get upset about a suggestion to replace careful research with something incorrect. I can’t say I’m one of them. I do my own research before adding anything to my tree and if a hint isn’t right, I ignore it. I had that incorrect name in my own tree for many years and know it came from a death certificate, reported by a child who would never have know their grandparent. Due to people marrying at unexpected times, and dying in unexpected places, the correct information wasn’t easy to find.

While I’m not upset, I would prefer to be given good hints. There are about 10 Ancestry trees with the old information for each Ancestry tree that has picked up my new research.

I wonder what the tipping point is for Ancestry to shift its suggestion?

As an experiment, I’ve sent a friendly message to 17 people who have the incorrect information in their tree and given them corrected information. It will be interesting to see how many respond to my message, and if the Thrulines suggestion changes.


  1. It will be Interesting to see the result.

  2. I have a similar instance. It will worth noting if your plan works.

  3. Hi Shelley, I had the same problem - though not through DNA, just the usual Ancestry hints which turned in a tree I was researching. The subject of the enquiry an architect who came to Melbourne. He was to be found in the 1851 Liverpool census as an architecture student with his whole family. This family was grafted onto the tree of another man of the same name who went to the USA and became a farmer. I wrote to every person who had put him in their tree and referred them to the one I had created with all the documentation I could find to show that the architecture student had come to Melbourne and practiced here. I sent out 10 messages. Not everyone responded, but I notice that now, less than 12 months later, all of those shonky trees have disappeared. I think the important thing is to make sure you are including the evidence that will persuade them if they bother to look at the tree you direct them to. I admit I am surprised that has happened. So there you go!

    1. That's a great outcome! I've had small response. There has been a difference in what I'm seeing, but I don't think it's due to my prompt. Post coming...

    2. I think it probably would have been due to your prompt. I didn't find any significant difference in the first two times I checked back, but nearly 12 months on, they have pretty much all been altered. It just took a bit of time. Last night I wrote to someone who grafted an extra marriage and children on a tree I looked at only to get the wife's year of death. I was rather puzzled by a "first wife" who died around the same time as the "second wife", but no divorce mentioned. I looked at a couple of the attached documents and found they weren't for the same husband. The name was similar, but not the same, they were born 12 years apart, and in different countries. None of those discrepancies rang any alarm bells, apparently. It is just too darn easy to click a button on Ancestry, and get the wrong result. The first wife hasn't been deleted yet, but you never know. It has only been 24 hours.