Posted by Paul Rawlins on September 17, 2013 in Website

We’ve all done it.

Sat around the kitchen table up to our elbows in old black-and-white photos, glasses perched on the end of our nose, asking, “Now, who’s this?”

With new commenting features for online trees, the kitchen table just got a whole lot bigger.

The idea behind the latest changes to commenting is to bring the table online, where more people can join the conversation. In the past, comments were tied to individual copies of photos, which means you could miss out on what people were saying if they weren’t looking at your copy of a picture. Now, comments are shared across all copies of a shared photo, whatever tree it happens to appear in. That way everybody at the table can hear what’s being said and chime in. (If your tree is private, you may see other member trees an image is connected to and comments for that image if you saved it from a public tree.)

It’s a great way to ask questions, offer answers, and build your own mini community around pictures, documents, and stories—a place where everyone who has a stake in that little piece of the past can listen and join in.

You don’t have to do anything new. Go to an individual’s media gallery in your family tree and click on a photo, story, audio file, or video and you’ll see a Comments box underneath it. Add your comment and hit Return or Enter. Sharing happens automatically.Global Commenting II edited[1]

One obvious use for global commenting is identifying people in a photo that you might not know. More eyes and more memories are always going to be helpful. But what about stories a photo brings to mind? Does somebody know something funny about that wedding, or what the family typically ate for Christmas dinner, or other places that old Buick had been? The new commenting system makes it easy to pass those stories along and preserve them in the family lore.

Do you have a marriage certificate or a will you have questions about? Add an image to a media gallery and start asking. You may be able to crowdsource an answer from extended family you haven’t even met yet.

Comments also help you keep track of where photos came from with a permanent credit line for the person who originally shared the image. You’ll also be notified via real-time emails when comments are made on media in your tree so you’re never far from the conversation.

Along with new commenting features, you’ll find the whole media page has an updated look that makes it simpler than ever to update, share, comment on, and view family photos and stories.

Francis M. Rush - View media - (1)

Sharing stories is what keeps them alive, and who better to share them with than people who really want to hear them—and who might know an even better one.

So pull a chair up to the table, adjust your glasses, reach for a photo, and start talking.


  1. Shirley Gilmore

    I tried this. Opened a picture in one of my individual’s media gallery. Made a comment. Did not see a “Continue button” to press. Where is it?

  2. That is a sweet group photo. It is just too bad Ancestry removed the face tagging tool, would have been much easier to identify faces. Oh yeah, thats right, they used to have that tool, then removed it so that any metadata you may have created is now invisible. Classic

  3. Laurel Penney

    Shirley, the instructions were incorrect (since been corrected). Just to clarify, hit enter/return and the comment will be added instantaneously; there is no submit button.

    Thank you,
    Laurel product team

  4. sheryl willard

    it would be nice to have a separate website that you could post orphan pictures on–maybe somebody would know who they were!

  5. James P Morris

    Will Comments continue to be added to the Recent Comments section of the Tree Overview page – that is very useful info to have. It doesn’t appear to be happening at the moment but perhaps that is a temporary situation?

  6. Paula Schaff Parmelee

    I did this recently with my dear cousin I hadn’t seen in 47 years. Great fun! Found a picture of our grandmother that I had never seen before plus one of our great-grandfather. We spent 4 whole days looking at pictures (and uploading a few), going over trees and just reminiscing. Thanks Ancestry

  7. Luke Pinion

    Awesome. Thanks for adding this. It is greatly needed! There have been times I have commented on others’ photos, but I have no way of knowing if they responded to my query.

  8. Laurel Penney

    James, the “Recent Comments” section only reflects comments on people in your tree but we plan to include media objects soon.

    Thanks, Laurel product team

  9. James P Morris

    With all due respect, from 2011 Oct until 9 Sep 2013 I could add comments to the photos & docs in my trees & they would appear in the Recent Comments section of Tree Overviews. I add the Source in that space & then have a list of Source Citations which is extremely useful. People who viewed the items in the trees could leave their comments as well which they did…I have added 5 more items since 9 Sep 2013 but I don’t see Recent Comments of any kind. There are also 2 photo images in one of my trees which Ancestry has blocked. I hope whatever comes of Global Commenting I am able to view Comments as I did in the past & hope I can see the photos unblocked in my tree! Thanks.

  10. Jean Hollars

    How do I delete someone’s off-topic, erroneous comment from one of my photos that I submitted to my tree?

  11. Laurel Penney

    @Jean Hollars, we are currently working on allowing users to hide comments they find objectionable. In the meantime, you can request a comment removal by clicking the “flag” option. Your request will be routed to the product team and we’ll take care of it ASAP.

    Thanks for your patience,

  12. Kerry

    SUPER pleased to hear you’ll be providing us the option to hide comments. Customers should always be provided a choice. Thanks Ancestry!
    p.s. And on that note, I would love to see you keep the Standard Viewer when looking at records; the enhanced version is too cumbersome for me. Again. it’s nice to have a choice and since both are available now, why not just keep it this way so everyone is happy?

  13. James P Morris

    Would it be possible to restore the Comments to Tree Overviews? Recent Comments appearing on that page would be helpful & are not appearing on those pages anymore. The photos I had said were being blocked by Ancestry are now visible & thank you for that!

  14. Laurel Penney

    Hi, James. We are aware that recent media comments aren’t showing up on the overview pages (people comments are, however), and it’s something we’d like to fix. Unfortunately, I can’t provide a timeframe on when this particular issue will be resolved as team is currently focused on performance and stability. Thanks for your patience, and for providing your feedback!

    Laurel Penney product team

Comments are closed.