Kenny, Kenny, Kenny…

kenny-wall3Dear Kenny,

I am not sure where to begin.

I guess you could say that I am speechless. No, I am breathless!

On Thursday, 2 April 2015, I received the following email:

Now, your DNA can tell you something that was never before possible. AncestryDNA has a new feature that allows you to discover new ancestors—just through your DNA. Your results have already been updated, so click below to see your new ancestor. Look for your new ancestor on your DNA results page.

Kenny, did you write this email? Certainly, since you are the Product Director of AncestryDNA, it would have at least landed on your desk before it went out.

I followed the instructions in this email (the email that you, Kenny, certainly must have approved), and I was taken to my AncestryDNA home page where I saw something new.


Today, I went to the same page and saw something even newer.


Do you notice the difference, Kenny? Surely you must, because it must have come across your desk and you must have approved it.

Kenny, do you know what beta“Beta” means? I’m not talking about the second letter of the Greek alphabet, or the second-brightest star in a constellation. Or a betta fish. No, Kenny, I am talking about “Beta Testing.”

Kenny, do you know what “Beta Testing” means? As a Product Director, you must, but for my readers’ benefit, let me spell it out for them. Please bear with me.

As you and I know, to transition software into “Beta” means that we have completed our “white box” (sometimes known as “glass box”) testing where both the software engineers and internal quality control teams have run through the testing on the new features and, hopefully, regression testing. (Certainly, Kenny, you would insist on a team that does regression testing.)

At this point, there are most likely known and unknown bugs, perhaps performance issues, and things that could potentially cause crashes or data loss. We know that it is not ready for general release (else it would not be called “Beta”).

Once our internal testers are satisfied with the quality and results of the feature, we are ready to do a “Beta Release.” We typically do this for free to a subset of our customers to whom we will disclose our known bugs. We will be in very close communication with them on a daily basis. There will be representatives from our team and from their teams who will be liaisons between the customers and us. We will disclose to the Beta Testing Teams nothing of how the software is working behind the scenes, but we will tell them what the finished product is supposed to do, which is, as you know, “black box” testing. That way, when they do their testing, they will know whether or not the software is working.

As for the rest of our customers, they will continue to use the Released software version (the one without known bugs and potential issues) until the version in Beta has matured.

Press releases of our new software features will remain sealed until an actual “Release” release date is set.

Certainly, Kenny, it must have been by accident that AncestryDNA’s Beta version of the New Ancestry Discoveries and DNA Circles were released to the entire customer base. Surely, you would not have intentionally let that happen.

At least that is what I thought. Sadly, I was wrong.

Kenny, I know you are a member of the ISOGG Facebook Group. I know you know (because you said so) that the backlash to the New Ancestor Discoveries Beta Release to all customers has been strong. You seem puzzled as to why this is, so in this heartfelt letter from me to you, I thought I would try to explain it to you.

On that fated day, 2 April 2015, Anna Swayne wrote the following:

Now, by just taking the AncestryDNA test, you can instantly find ancestors you never knew you had, going back generations in your family.

As genealogists, we strive to find ancestors. We live for it. It is our passion. So when AncestryDNA promises us something that promises to “instantly find ancestors we never knew we had,” well, heck yes, Kenny, if we haven’t bought a DNA test from Ancestry yet, we surely will now!

Kenny, it was all over the Internet – how this new technology is going to revolutionize how we find our ancestors “just through our DNA”! I would imagine that if Ancestry were still publicly traded, its stock price would have gone up when the technology was announced. Alas, though, it would have gone down as soon as word got out that it turned a good many people off. But perhaps not. I cannot predict everything.

At any rate, Kenny, I am disappointed in you. As the Product Director and a representative of AncestryDNA, you had a wonderful opportunity Thursday in your own blog post to call “time out,” admit this was marketed incorrectly, and start over.

Kenny, we would have applauded you for that.

No, instead Kenny, what you did was write a post that blamed us, the customers, for misunderstanding what “finding new ancestors using just your DNA” means. You patronized us. You ignored what we were saying. You did not get it.

Your LinkedIn page, Kenny, says that one of your specialties is Voice of the Customer (VoC). Again, for my readers, Kenny’s saying he has the specialty of VoC means that he is claiming to be qualified to capture customer expectations, preferences, and aversions. But, Kenny, over and over again, we, your customer base, have told you what we want, expect, prefer, and just out and out dislike with respect to AncestryDNA. And time and time again, you, for whatever reason, do not come through for us. As our VoC, you surely must be frustrated, too.

We know you understand, Kenny, that we are not happy. We are sorry that this falls on you.

But Kenny, Kenny, Kenny… please understand that we are not going to shut up about the problems that are not with us. Please know that we will continue to post comments, write blogs, and say those words that we know you are sick of hearing:

“Just give us Triangulation and a Chromosome Browser so we can actually use our DNA results.”

Because, Kenny, we know we understand what we want.crying

Can you, Kenny, can you please understand what we want? Our feelings are just plain hurt, Kenny. We are very, very sad.

Our VoC misunderstood that he is not the Voice of the Company. And that, Kenny Freestone, we must blame on you.

Please do better.


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6 Responses to Kenny, Kenny, Kenny…

  1. Jo Henn says:

    I just want to tell you that I’ve included this post in my NoteWorthy Reads post for this week: Juxtaposed against the Ancestry post that you are responding to.


  2. Pingback: Dear Kenny – Any Suggestions for Our New Ancestor Discoveries? | Diggin' Up Graves

  3. Pingback: The Best and Worst of 2015 – Genetic Genealogy Year in Review | DNAeXplained – Genetic Genealogy

  4. Pingback: AncestryDNA is at it Again – Missing Shared Matches | Diggin' Up Graves

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