Friday 3 November 2023

Making your Y-DNA Results work for you

Why have you done an expensive Y-DNA test? Presumably to help you with your family tree research, and specifically the ancestral line down which your surname passed, generation after generation, since the formation of your surname, perhaps some 800-1000 years ago.

So it makes sense to share the results of your Y-DNA test with the right people in order to maximise your chances of making a breakthrough on your direct male line (father father father etc). That way you are getting value for the money you spent on the test in the first place. 

However, at the same time, you want to make sure that you protect any sensitive personal information. You do not want any information made available to the general public that identifies you as an individual - you want to focus primarily on reaching those like-minded people who are also researching their surname. And by finding them and collaborating with them, a breakthrough is possible.

This article shows you what information is published on the public Results Pages of DNA Projects you have joined at FTDNA (FamilyTreeDNA) so that you can decide whether you want to 1) make your results public (and maximise your chances of a breakthrough) or 2) keep them hidden (so that your privacy is optimised).

First of all, this is what your Y-DNA results would look like if you chose to have them published on the public Results Page of any project you might happen to join at FTDNA. Note the following:

  1. the row number does not identify you as an individual
  2. your Kit Number does not identify you as an individual
  3. your "Name" (i.e. surname or family name) does not identify you as an individual (unless you are the only person alive with that particular surname)
  4. your "Paternal Ancestor Name" does not identify you as an individual (unless you are the sole surviving descendant of that particular ancestor)
  5. the Country of origin does not identify you as an individual
  6. the Haplogroup does not identify you as an individual
  7. the numerical values for each individual STR marker do not identify you as an individual

Typical display of Y-DNA results on the public Results Page of a DNA Project 
(click to enlarge)

So there is no data displayed that clearly identifies you as an individual. And if you are happy with that, then you should consider making your data available for other researchers to see.

One of my own particular interests is Irish Clan research and making your data available on the public Results Page allows researchers like myself to use the data in our Irish Clan research as well as individual surname research, which ultimately benefits you and your family and all your relations associated with your surname line.

Here is how you make your Y-DNA results publicly-viewable ...

1) log in to your account at FTDNA

2) go to Account Settings (from the drop down menu when you click on your name in the top right)

3) click on the Project Preferences tab

4) scroll down to Project Sharing

5) click on the "Opt in to Sharing" button, so that it turns from grey (OFF) to dark blue (ON)

And that's it. Your Y-DNA results will be visible on the public Results Page of any projects you have joined at FTDNA. And you can reverse your decision at any time you want. Just click on the same button and it turns itself OFF. Simple!

Now your Y-DNA results are working for you in the background rather than being hidden away doing nothing.

Maurice Gleeson
Nov 2023