Earlier this summer, I responded to the suggestions that I transfer my 37 marker y-dna test from ancestry.com to Family Tree DNA (whose website is ftdna.com), then to upgrade my y-dna test to the 111-marker test. (See An account of my Y-DNA Testing Strategy to Increase my Markers to 111.)
I submitted the results of the FTDNA test to a UK administrator, who leads an international group of DNA researchers who are of Haplogroup I1 and M-253.
I received the following response from him:
Hello Bill, its good to hear from you.
I’ll take a look after lunch [its noon here in England]
FTDNA . . . refuse to add tens of thousands of known SNPs to their data bank, hence they are still labelling members ‘M253’ when they should be using a far more downstream SNP. I’ll see what I can discover from your full Y-111. I’ll get back asap.
For now, best regards , W_
I’ve used my tried and trusted search comparison data against your Y-111 markers, across the whole of M253
Most of the comparisons are literally thousands of years distant from you. I’ve not come across such a difficult set of STRs for many years.
The three subgroups I’ve found ‘closest’ to you are still very distant, quite unlike normal comparisons. They are:
Z140, Z63 and Z138. That suggests to me from past experience that you may not in fact be a member of any of those three subgroups, you merely have some STRs common to those subgroups. In that case I ususally find the person is a member of a subgroup further back in time.
This is what I mean. M253 leads to DF29. DF29 is like a hub, other branches radiate from it. Z140, Z63 and Z138 all come off DF29. But all three are down separate branches off DF29 so there is only DF29 that is common to all three.
So test  rather than test all three other SNPs, it would be best to test just one, the most likely one. Surname-wise, it could be any of the three, but SAUNDERS England is more likely to be Z58 leading to Z140 [my branch]. Your DYS447=22 also suggests the Z140 Branch.
 would be DF29 to confirm that your subgroup is down the tree from M253 to at least as far as the hub, DF29
so here’s my suggestion one.
 test Z58. If you’re negative, then  test DF29 to establish the hub.
test BritainsDNA Chromo 2.0 basic $199. It’s a pre-loaded chip containing over 14,000 known SNPs from Adam down to below Z140, so it would cover far more of the tree than individually testing SNPs at $39/$49 each. It would cover DF29, Z58, Z140 AND Z138 branches, plus all the other ones I’ve discounted, like L22
Its a very broad approach, and like a scatter gun, you can’t fail to hit the target.
All the old advice was to start with Y-STRs, the more the better, then test SNPs. I don’t suggest that approach any longer. In my experience, if you can’t find your branch by testing Y-12, to Y-37, then an SNP chip is a much better approach, far more cost effective.
On our I1-M253 we have over 5,500 members. Something like 1/3rd of them cannot be classified by STRs alone. Unfortunately many ‘experts’ continue to advise them to ‘test more markers’ … wrong !!
Ultimately, if you have never tested anything before and you have about $500 to spare, then the very best approach is Y-genome sequencing, like FGC Full genomes or FTDNA Big-Y. You’re talking 50,000+ SNPs tested, Y-500 STR and mega-mtDNA extracted. The one and only test you’d ever need.
Further correspondence from Michel, my cousin in Ottawa:
If you have a comment, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.