What a Good YDNA Project should have

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This is one of a series of articles on Genealogical Methods, prepared in association with The Tapestry. See Index for a list of related articles.


Recently (July 2011), subscribers to the Rootsweb "Genealogy-DNA" mailing list were asked several questions regarding the qualities of a good YDNA project website.


The following are responses received to date (28 July 2011) for this question. Private responses have not been included here, but have been added to the following discussion where appropriate.

Genealogy DNA Archive July 2011
Diana Gale Mathieson
Nancy Kiser
Tom Crago


What are characteristics of a good DNA Project?

  • The key to a good project is to deduce the ancestral haplotypes for as many documented families as possible. "Orphans" will then be able to focus their research on matching families and/or eliminate mismatching families. If they find a match, they can then work top-down through the genealogy for possible ancestors.This is the only way to get around a brick wall. Most projects eliminate this step, because it is very time-consuming for even a moderately common surname. This thread has more information of the consuming methodology.
  • The most important one [is] ... grouping results and supplying lineages....
  • It presents the paternal ancestries of the participants
  • Careful grouping is more critical in a surname project where a mistake can lead people on a wild goose chase with their paper genealogy, setting them up for a big disappointment when the error is uncovered.
  • They [provide] information on family origin, history, etc.
  • The web site is a "good read," and supplys needed information.
  • Has a focused leadership that communicates well with members
  • It is connected to the active traditional researchers for the surname. The project has a strong connection to some group focused on the surname and often has a sponsorship program.
  • It has a good website which presents the dna results clearly - in their genetic families, and with mutations identified.
  • It provides contact info for the researcher involved with each kit.
  • Questions are thoughtfully answered and facts govern - not emotions or preconceived notions.
  • All genetic families and unmatched individuals get attention.


What should be avoided in a YDNA Project?

  • ...the biggest problem is getting sourced/documented genealogies from testees to make the paper connections and define sub groups.
  • [Many Projects fail to group] members, meaningfully, and supply lineages.
  • There are many cases where people are included in groups they should not be, or not grouped when they should be.
  • The main reason for mistakes in grouping is testing too few markers, especially in Hg R1b.
  • The web site is "bare bones" with little additional information, not even earliest ancestors filled in, much less providing lineages.
  • A number of projects are not kept up to date
  • ...some administrators disappear without telling anyone.
  • Some admins are only interested in their own family - or have a pet theory that governs their work.
  • Too many [project administrators] don't really understand what they are doing and can't present their project in an understandable way.
  • A surprising number don't have any website or way to share their info - and some are unwilling to share their info.
  • If they're not using the FTDNA web site, taking weeks or months to update test results or add new members.
  • Inability to answer whether a descendant of a major progenitor of the surname has been tested.
  • Inadequate knowledge of the genealogy of the surname (unaware of who the major progenitors are).
  • No written introduction or summary of the project to indicate what has been accomplished.
  • Vague goals. Waiting passively for something to turn up.


  • No one can fairly present a complete list of "good" surname projects. Here are some...that someone thinks well of:

(table has not been completed.)

Surname/Link to FTDNA SiteKitsDiscrete
Burton**992World Families.net
ByrdWorld Families.net
ByrneWorld Families.net
Conner World Families.net
Cook World Families.net
Dunbar World Families.net
Dunn World Families.net
Frame World Families.net
Herring World Families.net
Hodges-Hodge World Families.net
Hughes World Families.net

World Families.net

Kaiser World Families.net
Kelley World Families.net
Nolan World Families.net
Parker World Families.net

World Families.net


World Families.net

Shaw Shaw Families.net
Terry World Families.net
Townsend World Families.net
Walker World Families.net
Wells World Families.net
Woodward-Woodard World Families.net

*Excluding one-of-a-kind, ungrouped, and uassigned **Groupings not being updated; see Wold Families site instead.