Several bloggers who focus on DNA and genealogy have posted their views of the new Genetic Communities component to the AncestryDNA service. As is often the case opinions differ depending on the individual case and expectations.
Lacking US ancestry my expectations were not high. I did hope to get some insight into the largest component of my ethnic ancestry according to Ancestry, 30% Irish. It's a component I have only a hint about how it arrived in my family tree, nothing passed down in family oral history. Yet 30% is substantial. In my recent studies of LivingDNA results everyone who had 30% of more from one of the UK areas could confirm it from their known ancestry. Alas Ireland was not one of the two communities Ancestry found, both were communities well established in my paper-based family tree.
Ancestry provides the information that "You and 10 of your DNA matches, along with 21,791 other AncestryDNA members, are all genetically linked to form the Genetic Community English in the East Midlands." Ancestry considers it likely, 60% certain I'm in that community.
The area encompassed is where I have documented ancestry in East Staffordshire, Birmingham and the Black Country on my maternal side. Also listed in the community are two ancestors on my paternal side who never lived in the area and, as far as I know, had no ancestry from it!
Not identified in my list of matches in the region was a person with whom I share 5 times great grandparents found through an AncestryDNA surname search.
Ancestry describes the connection as "You and 9 of your DNA matches, along with 20,725 other AncestryDNA members, are all genetically linked to form the Genetic Community Jews in Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, and Luxembourg." Ancestry describe it as "possible you’re a member of this Genetic Community. Our confidence that you belong is 20%."
The area includes Amsterdam where my paper trail leads to a great grandfather born in 1864.
The results proved to be an attractive presentation of what I already knew. It's good as far as it goes, and it could go further. At present if Genetic Communities encourages those at an earlier stage of their family history journey that would be a benefit. What is needed is more family trees from those who have none, or don't post them. Could Ancestry be more proactive in encouraging people developing and sharing ancestral trees? Could there be a way to gamify that? Could Ancestry find an automated way to develop straw man family trees for a client if they agreed to have it posted? While they might not all be accurate experienced genealogists know to treat compiled trees as clues rather than fact.