A Russian-American’s insider view of the 23andme Autosomal Test

A few months ago, I gave into curiosity and took the autosomal test of 23andme.com. Many of 23andme customers are focused on the health results of 23andme’s DNA test but the FDA put a stop on the company releasing health results in the fall.

So the sale of 23andme’s autosomal test has slowed down but 23andme still claims to have the “largest DNA ancestry service in the world.” The president is still focused on using DNA testing for health-related research. See this article.

However, 23andme is pushing hard for more customers to take its autosomal test for genealogy now that  it, Ancestry and Family Tree DNA are all charging $99 for its autosomal tests. The biggest perk of testing with 23andme is that men get their paternal and maternal haplogroups and women get their maternal haplogroup, in addition to the percentage of Neanderthal ancestry at no extra charge.

23andme does not ship its test to Russia and Ukraine but it ships to these former areas of the Russian Empire: Azerbaijan, Belarus, Estonia, Lithuania and Moldova. For some reason, I still get matched to people who live in Russia.

What type of information is provided on matches?

Customers decide what type of information matches get on them. Some matches will only release their gender and maternal and/or paternal haplogroup. Others will give their name, birth year, place of residence, birth country, ancestral roots, and family surnames and birthplaces. A few people post their family trees but these are not gedcom files seen on Ancestry nor Family Tree DNA. Many of my matches have made themselves private.

How does 23andme predict chances of being related?

23andme gives the percent of DNA shared on the number of segments. Customers have to visit this webpage to determine the size of the centimorgans shared with matches.  Matches are broken down between close relatives,  2nd and 3rd cousins, 4th cousins and distant cousins.

How often do you get matches?

I get a few matches once a week. Once matches hit a total of 1,000, the weakest matches are deleted unless you are sharing DNA data with those matches.

How many of your matches have ancestors from Russia or Ukraine?

Fifty eight matches have Russian ancestors and 17 matches have Ukrainian ancestors. Many more probably have Russian and Ukrainian ancestry but many matches have made their information private.

How close are your matches?

I have 873 matches that include 17 3rd to 6th cousins, 365 3rd to distant cousins, 433 4th to distant cousins and the rest are distant cousins. I have three matches who have common ancestral Russian regions.

How friendly are matches in giving information?

Some matches have been friendly. I have sent messages to a bunch of matches so far and they have answered my messages and approved my DNA data sharing requests. Members on the forums have complained that many people will not share their DNA data nor answer their messages.

What tools does 23andme offer in searching, sorting, filtering and noting matches?

Matches can be sorted by date, relationship, percent of DNA shared,  number of segments where DNA is shared,  contact status, first name, last name, age, and maternal and paternal haplogroups. If you tested one of your parents, you can split matches between maternal and paternal lines. Matches also are shown on a world map by their residence. Notes can be added to each match.

23andme has a chromosome browser  to see whether various matches have the same ancestor but matches must agree to share their DNA data.

Does 23andme have forums to help figure out the DNA test and its results?

It has many active forums,  the largest group of forums of the three main testing companies. The general ancestry area has more than 4,100 threads. 23andme also has a forum for DNA relatives that has more than 4,500 threads. Forums are also available for many maternal and paternal haplogroups.

Next post: FAQ on which company is best to use on various situations. This post will hopefully save money and increase chances of better results.

2 thoughts on “A Russian-American’s insider view of the 23andme Autosomal Test

  1. Shaun Clements

    Great post thank you. Motivated me to get a test done with 23andMe as I am still searching for my lost Ukraine/Lithuanian family, grandmother born in Poltava: Taibe Jeta Meler and her parents Mausus and Freida Kaplan

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