Some AncestryDNA users who have tried to register a new kit in the past couple of days are getting this message:
AncestryDNA is running a trial for a forthcoming system in which each new DNA test, with the exception of those for minors or legal wards, will have to be registered in a separate account. My gut reaction was that this was going to be a huge imposition, akin to having to log in to each DNA test separately at Family Tree DNA, so I did some digging.
I contacted AncestryDNA‘s customer support and got this reply (used with permission):
Based on this statement, AncestryDNA is making this change to ensure that each person who tests has agreed to it or is legally authorized to give permission for the tester. For those of us who administer multiple tests, this will be an inconvenience, but it’s not the end of the world.
To avoid panic in the genetic genealogy community, I thought I’d address some of the concerns I’m seeing expressed.
- They’re just doing this to make money. — Well, they’re a for-profit company; they’re supposed to make money! We want them to make money so they’ll continue to invest in new features, like the soon-to-be-released Genetic Communities. However, if this change affects their bottom line, I suspect it’ll be slightly negatively. First, some potential users do not have access to a computer or aren’t computer savvy enough to register their own kits. Second, the negative publicity about this change may drive some customers elsewhere, although 23andMe is the only major testing company to allow one person to administer multiple tests in the same account.
- They’re trying to force people to buy an Ancestry subscription for each new DNA tester. — No, you don’t need a paid subscription to do the DNA test. If a relative doesn’t want to manage their own account, they can “share” the results with you and you can do (almost) everything from within your account. See below for instructions on how to share.
- You need a subscription to share. — Not true.
- We’ll have to log out and in every time we want to look at a different test, like at Family Tree DNA. — No, see above. The tester can share the DNA results from their account to yours.
- I already manage several DNA tests and don’t want to have to create separate accounts for each. — If a DNA test is already managed in your account, that won’t change.
- We’ll have to build and maintain copies of the same tree in each account. — No, you can either share your family tree with the new tester’s account or the relative can share their DNA results with your account. If they make you an editor (see below), you will be able to attach their test kit to the tree in your account.
- The test taker doesn’t have an email account. (Yes, there are still people without email, like my mom.) — If the tester agrees, you can create a new email account for them. The tester would then set up their account using this email address. I successfully set up a dummy Ancestry account for myself this way, and I did not have to enter payment information.
- Maternal/paternal filtering won’t work. — Yes, the filtering will still work.
- But my relatives and I really want everything in one account! — No problem. Once the new account is set up and you’ve accepted the “editor” invitation, they can make you the administrator of the kit. You and they will essentially swap roles: you become administrator and they become editor. This is how I manage several of DNA tests already.
Cutting to the Chase
This will be a hassle for those of us who manage multiple DNA tests at the request of our relatives, but I think it will be a minor one in the end. The person who takes the test will have to set up an account and share their results with you. If they want you to manage everything, they can use a sibling to your email address to set up their DNA account and give you their login information. Ultimately, this policy change puts the liability on those of us who manage other kits to ensure that we are acting with the full knowledge and consent of the people who test. That’s not a bad thing.
The main drawback I see, aside from the additional steps in setting up access, are that member messages to new accounts we manage will go to their Ancestry mailbox, unless we are given administrator status. If they used a sibling email address to set up the account, you’ll get a notification, but you would have to log into their account to reply directly. I suspect I will get around this by messaging back from my own account (rather than the managed one) and copying the incoming message into my reply so I have the entire conversation in one place. Given how rarely I receive unsolicited messages, this will be a minor imposition.
How to Share
Log in to your DNA account (dna.ancestry.com), and click on the black SETTINGS button at the top right of the main DNA page.
On the next page, scroll down to the section on Sharing DNA Results, and click the green button that says INVITE OTHERS TO ACCESS DNA RESULTS.
On the pop-up screen, enter the user name or email address of the person you’re inviting, decide whether they should be a “guest” (allowing them to see your ethnicity results and matches) or “editor” (allowing them to make notes and attach your DNA results to a tree) and send the invitation.
If someone invites you to their results, you’ll get an email with a link. You’ll have to enter your login information again (even if you’re already logged into your Ancestry account) as a privacy protection, then you will have access at the level they selected for you.
Easy peasy. No need to panic.
UPDATED TO ADD: Current reports are that the trial of this new system is only being applied to a subset of accounts and that it will only last 2 days. If you are trying to register a new DNA test and get the message above, you may want to try again tomorrow (25 Feb 2017) or the day after, when the trial is over. I haven’t heard when the full roll-out will be, so if you have kits you’re planning to register in your own account, you may want to do that now in the window before the changes are permanent.
CORRECTION: A previous version of this blog suggested using, with the tester’s permission, a sibling email address to your own (e.g., email@example.com) to help your relative set up an account. I tried that and did not receive a welcome email from Ancestry, so this method may not work.