I only received my AncestryDNA results a few weeks ago, and so I am still learning about its functionality.

One of the options that I find the most useful is its Shared Ancestor Hints because these seem to be the quickest and easiest ways to uncover living (or at worst recently deceased) cousins who may be (or have been) co-custodians of the family history of our shared ancestors.

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I can understand easily how the number of Shared Ancestor Hints might creep up as more people test with AncestryDNA and more of those tested link their DNA results to their Ancestry online trees.

However, I have noticed that my number of Shared Ancestor Hints has dropped from a high of 24 to its current 20.

I can understand losing one or two of those with shared ancestry, by them belatedly choosing to unlink their DNA and tree, or turning their tree to private, but are there other possible explanations as to why about 17% of my Shared Ancestor Hints may have "evaporated" during the course of a few weeks?

Two days after posting the above my number of Shared Ancestor Hints has jumped to 29!

Since reaching 29 over the next 6-7 months my number of Shared Ancestor Hints has crept slowly up to 47 with no more unexpected dips and jumps, so I think Ancestry must have been tweaking their algorithms earlier.

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    If Ancestry's algoritm for detecting shared matches is particularly sensitive to changes in tree details, it may be that edits to your own or other people's trees could produce this result, although I can't substantiate this with evidence from elsewhere. Have you made any changes to your own tree? IS it likely that 17% of your 'connections' have made changes over 'a few weeks.?
    – user104
    Oct 9 '17 at 16:41
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    Heh. I lost 50% of my Shared Ancestor Hints the other day! (Now I have just one... my family tree seems rather spindly.)
    – AndyW
    Nov 8 '17 at 9:29

Today I received an email from AncestryDNA alerting me to a new shared ancestor match which said:

See what we’ve found in AncestryDNA® results for you.


You and a DNA Match have the same ancestor in your trees. Follow the family lines that connect you. ... See how you’re connected

  View all Shared Ancestor Hints

There’s a small chance Ancestry members shown here may have changed their tree or set it to Private after we’ve sent this email. If that happens, we unfortunately won’t be able to share their information with you.

I think the last paragraph gives two reasons why an Ancestry member previously shown may no longer appear as a shared ancestor match:

  1. made changes to their tree (so it no longer matches my tree closely enough)
  2. set their tree to Private

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