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Kimberly Powell

23 and Me Responds to the Genealogy Community

By January 8, 2012

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I didn't initially notice the changes at 23andme.com that caused such an uproar in the genealogy community last month, primarily because I was one of the early adopters who had my DNA (and that of my family members) tested prior to their change to a subscription-based program. In other words, the changes didn't affect my account in an immediately noticeable way. However, once I started reading some of the blog posts on the topic, including CeCe Moore's 23andMe Changes Terms for Expired PGS Subscription Customers and DNA Access Policy Changes Bad for Genealogists by Debbie Parker Wayne, CG, I realized the changes would indeed affect me as well -- because they would affect many people who might be my future potential matches in Relative Finder. I also immediately downloaded my raw DNA data from their database so I won't risk losing it to future service changes.

It was good to see the announcement this week by23andMe co-founder and CEO Anne Wojcidki that the company did listen to the genealogy community and have re-considered many of their announced changes.

Let me begin by acknowledging that there are many things we could have done better over the years and there are especially things we could have done better with this recent incident involving the changes to our subscription. We admit that we make mistakes. We will continue to make mistakes. I can personally promise you that we will try to listen more and do better. Dedicating resources to our ancestry product and improving our customer service are top priorities for 2012. We hear you loud and clear and we will be making changes.

Among the announced changes are a lower-cost option for subscribers to upgrade to a lifetime subscription, and a promise that the 23andMe team is "working on creating an experience where subscribing customers will be able to find relatives among subscribers and non-subscribers (assuming they have not opted out)." CeCe Moore, author of Your Genetic Genealogist will also be working with 23andMe to help the company work with the ancestry community to create products that meet our needs.

I'm definitely willing to give the company the benefit of the doubt that this was just a mistake. However, I am more likely to recommend FamilyTreeDNA to most people looking for genealogy testing now that they have increased the size of their autosomal database to the point where I'm actually achieving matches to people that can be corroborated through genealogy research. 23andMe offers a great product, but their primary goal is genetic research, and  many of the individuals tested through them don't care about genealogy and won't respond to Relative Finder requests.

January 14, 2012 at 9:00 am
(1) Philly JoJo says:

On the other hand, I’m frankly tired of giving a corp the benefit of doubt. Did they make a mistake? Yes. It exhibits a problem in their decision making process that may very well impact on me later on because it may very well cause problems in their business model at any time. Take for example Netflix and their fiasco. Businesses are like pixels. They can be replaced easily but for some strange reason, we have this mindset that is counterproductive to ensuring long lasting businesses. It’s no longer service to the customer but “how much can we make before we crash and burn?”

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