Posted by Ancestry Team on July 8, 2016 in Site Features, Website

We introduced LifeStory last year to give you a better sense of what your ancestors’ lives were like. The auto-generated LifeStory does a lot of heavy lifting when translating facts and dates into a narrative of someone’s life but it really shines when you make it your own.

From the beginning, you’ve had full control of all the narrative snippets, had the ability to choose which Historical Insights you want to keep and enhance your ancestor’s story with photos. The end result has been a fast and intuitive way to display the rich tapestry of our ancestor’s lives.

Some of our members have shared that they would prefer to jump straight in to writing their own stories without the help of an auto-generated LifeStory. To enable this, we’ve recently added a new option to each tree’s settings page that allows you to enable or disable stories being generated for that tree.

Turn off stories – Click on your tree and go to “Tree Settings”. Under the settings for each family tree, there is a new option added below Tree Name and Tree Description of your tree. By default, “Automatically build stories for this tree” is enabled, but it can be turned off on a tree by tree basis. Any custom stories that you’ve written will still display and you can keep creating more stories for your ancestors.

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When automatically build stories is turned off, they will not display for anyone viewing your tree.

Stories On                                                                                                                                                      Stories Off

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                             Lifestory Enhacements_4
















We appreciate your feedback and encourage you to keep submitting it. What do you love about the new website? Did you find a bug? Something doesn’t quite work like you think it should? Please submit it via this form.



  1. Monika

    snobuz78 – Please do not take credit for photos that I submitted.
    hisinc7 – Please do not take credit for photos that I submitted and that were taken by family members of my husband. Thank you so much!

  2. Mike D.

    Only Ancestry can put a spin on fix of a major design flaw make it sound like they are really customer-focused by providing what the customer wants. I speak of the inane LifeStory.

    To start, they say ‘From the beginning, you’ve had full control of all the narrative snippets, had the ability to choose which Historical Insights you want to keep and enhance your ancestor’s story with photos.’ Perhaps technically correct, if done at each individual profile level, not at a global level across one’s tree. The ‘ability’ spoke of was not a practical solution; we get this spin here that it was the customers’ control all along. Hardly. And who asked for it (LifeStory) to be inserted in everyone’s trees in the first place, without a way to truly turn it off? I for one surely didn’t.

    Then we are told that ‘Some of our members have shared that they would prefer to jump straight in to writing their own stories without the help of an auto-generated LifeStory.’ ‘Some’? Sounds like four or five members happen to just share their preferences. More like there was an uproar from the member community that Ancestry had no business putting their computer-generated and often wrong verbiage into our personal family histories. More spin.

    Do I thank Ancestry for now providing a way to turn off that inane LifeStory functionality?
    No. It only took over six months for them to do it. Hardly customer focused.

    And to wrap up their insulting to the intelligence blog post, they want comments about what is loved about ‘New’ Ancestry, and about bugs. Ancestry: I HATE NEW ANCESTRY. The old platform was much better and it worked. I didn’t get error messages all the time and it didn’t have a messed up Hints system. And as far as submitting bugs, Ancestry try working on the ones that have been already submitted. And again, I HATE NEW ANCESTRY.

    The writer(s) at Ancestry for this post ought to go into the political arena, there is a knack for spin and for providing half-truths. If it wasn’t so sad it would be laughable.

  3. Monika

    @Mike D. Notice that I did not even bother to deal with that subject. It is too insulting. Notice also that they would like you to give your feedback on a “form”! One way of making all the negative comments disappear from sight! 🙂 ACOM is no longer worth my breath. I only use this forum because, since I am now no longer a paying member thanks to New Ancestry, I have no way of contacting other members (like snowbuz and hisinc). When I try, the page comes up saying “pay first”. They would have been better of creating a system where people cannot take other people’s photos from their trees and then take credit for being the original contributor than to ….. around with LifeStory. But, if, by now, they have not given us the option to take LifeStory off our trees completely they clearly never will.

  4. Dianne

    I get the same hints over & over. In fact, there are many times I’ve gotten over 50 hints on the same person – most of which are exactly the same. Time consuming to delete them. Also, there seems to be photos are a priority in the hints. In addition, on the search option, even though I have unchecked photos & maps, I get photos first. Thank you.

  5. Jade

    The customer-generated bios in LifeStory should have the barest word-processing capability: line breaks and paragraph formation.

  6. Jeani

    Monika: I have had and complained about taking credit for ‘photo/information since at least 2010! The reply received is that’s not possible; but, I have saved and printed almost ALL of my work and reams of paper to prove it! I have a wonderful relative who has helped me a great deal in my pursuit of ancestors/relative, as have I helped her as well! However, during this past year, I have noticed the very same pictures, etc. she apparently copied from my tree, is now credited to her! Believe me, I have no problem sharing with family members; but for some reason, do not like others taking credit for my hard work. Thanks for verifying that I am not making things up (never have, wy would I start now?).

  7. Jeani

    Dianne, et al: I thought it was just me having complained recently about the hints constantly appearing in my family tree! The ones that truly ‘bug’ me are for my parents, grandparents, great and great great grandparents, all of whom I have documented proof and photos, etc. About four months ago, I loved to look at my tree of five or even eight generations and feel content that I had gotten as much information as possible, that our connection was confirmed by DNA, etc. Lately, to your point, the hints keep on appearing even for my parents! and … many of the hints are the ones I had originally attached! Now, as per Monica’s blog here, the credit goes to someone else! and … I also spend so much time ‘canceling/deleting’ said hints! Funny, but just last night, I though it would be feasible to cancel my subscription because of the waste of time. Once again, I am so glad that you and others have posted here – it confirms my suspicions as fact!

  8. Delores Ebbert

    I liked the old Ancestry much better, I am a Latter Day Saint and as such should get Ancestry and some other sites free but each time I want to use Ancestry it pops up I have to PAY FIRST… WRONG!!!! SO I go back to Family Search and make the most of what I can find from other sites that ARE free to me… Very disappointed in the NEW Ancestry, so much for progress :(.

  9. debbi

    In this day and age, this website and the things we are trying to accomplish (find our ancestors) should be much more intuitive. If I have already posted a headstone, I don’t need to see the other 25 sitting in my “hints” box of the same photo. It is very tiresome to slog through all the duplicate hints. I also don’t like the DNA matches. So much wrong there. It tells me I am related to so-and-so and tells me I have DNA matched some in the same family, but nowhere to be found in my tree and no way to know where to even find that person to link them to me. A nice idea, but very useless. I don’t know what other website to go to instead of Ancestry. I have a lot of info in my trees and don’t want to lose it. If I can move them somewhere else with better format, I would do it. Clearly, Beta testing is not done to a degree that I am familiar with (try to break it, then fix it). they roll out a product before adequately testing and fixing all the bugs and incorporating feedback of what’s wrong. Not a good process, and no company I worked for would put up with that failure of achieving perfection.

  10. Sheila Cassidy Krishnaswamy

    The repetitive hints are a bust. They interfere with real research. How does DNA work within the tree?

  11. Janice

    So much negativity here and I guess some folks would be happy if nothing had ever changed. But Ancestry had to change. And they gave people a way to opt out of the story view – a feature that is a bit flawed. I agree that there are issues on hints – way too many duplicates, etc. But it seems that every time Ancestry tells us about an update, all the complaints come out in force and no-one has anything positive to say. I am thankful for Ancestry’s services and have benefited from them greatly – more than I can say. I am sure there are others who have too. And for those who think Ancestry should be free, there’s no such thing as a free lunch. The service LDS provides comes from uncompensated VOLUNTEERS. It is unrealistic and unreasonable to expect a business like Ancestry to be in business and not make money. If they don’t make money, they are gone.

  12. mKATH

    Please spend time fixing all the problems that are on the rest of the website. I still don’t see why Ancestry puts such emphasis on LifeStory. I stopped looking at it a while back because I’d get angry with what had been done to all my careful research. An option to turn off the narrative should have been implemented when New Ancestry first came out. After looking at LifeStory for the first time in months, I have two questions: (1) Why does the LifeStory Timeline still say that my New York City ancestors lived in Allegany County, NY? (2) Who chose the Vermeer “Milkmaid” painting to illustrate Scots-Irish immigrants in the Carolinas? That’s a Dutch painter and a Dutch subject. It wouldn’t have been difficult to find something with a Scots-Irish theme.

  13. Mary

    The second poster (Mike D.) said it beautifully. Ancestry’s spin on this one is laughable. Providing an “off” switch for the pitiful computer generated “Life Story” was undoubtedly the users’ most requested fix. It shouldn’t have taken six months and I refuse to be a cheerleader chanting that Ancestry has given us a wonderful “new option.” This is right out of “The Emperor’s New Clothes” or perhaps “1984.”

  14. Madeleine

    I never look at Life Story because I don’t need to as it looks almost exactly the same as the Facts page. Some while ago I found the Automatically Build Stories tick box and unticked it, I too had hated Life Story since its inception and it was so nice to see what a difference it makes when it is turned off.

  15. Sharon Self

    Regarding photos and other being given credit…it seems to work like this…people are able to “download” photos from and tree or hint and save them to their own computer. Then they upload the photo back to a profile. When this is done the person who uploads that photo is seen as the originator of the photo on that profile. The solution is for Ancestry to somehow figure out a way that metadata from the first and original source of the photo is included in the download so that it is saved with the file and reappears when the photo is once again uploaded to a profile. I,too, have no problem with others attaching photos and documents to persons in their tree but would appreciate the acknowledgment of the source.

  16. kathe casas

    I avoid all of the Life Story and photo credit problems by not putting all my hard work on I don’t have a tree there and very glad of it.

  17. Tom

    What part of “TOTALLY OFF,” “GONE,” NOT THERE,” didn’t you understand?
    You must be shipping your programming off-shore and they don’t understand English! The shortened version is definitely THERE and now a 5 year-old can read it instead of a 6 year-old!

  18. CH

    debbi: You can move your tree if you want. Make a GEDCOM file and use that.

    Now, after that simple answer, I should warn you of the problems. Ancestry’s GEDCOM is limited. Not everything gets included in a GEDCOM file. Another problem; if your new destination doesn’t have all the corresponding “fields,” information that doesn’t have a place to go will either get lost or put in a listing file.

    The Ancestry GEDCOM is a good backup if you intend to put it back into Ancestry. It is also a good backup if the Ancestry site should totally crash. (They would have to be pretty dumb if they don’t backup their site!)

    Syncing with FTM was the answer to that problem but Ancestry has dumped it to MacKiev. There are rumors of syncing with other stand alone software. I don’t keep up with that since I use a stand alone program. More work, less worry, but nothing will last forever.

  19. Another voice

    Janice, don’t kid yourself; Ancestry IS making money, lots of it. Volunteers at the Family History Centers are not paid, true, but the Church is compensating Ancestry for all those free accounts they give to members. They are scratching each other’s backs.

  20. Another voice

    Delores, call family search in Salt Lake City. Talk to them. Something is wrong with your subscription set up. They will help. Toll free number on family search site. Don’t bother with Ancestry, they will just tell you to call Salt Lake.

  21. Leeanne Blunden

    I, for one, quite enjoy the Life Story function. I love the bits of history it gives and I enjoy seeing what might have affected my ancestors in their time. Thank you Ancestry, for the feature. It is appreciated.

  22. sara danison

    Noticing photos are found in several (thank you) trees,I became interested in how to cite. I created a spreadsheet noting source of photo as I found each,therefore a source trail occurred . Still,often it is unclear who is the original source. The date with each photo sometimes establishes a time line to who may be the originator.This an additional drain of time from my research into this data collection.

  23. Stan R Lee

    People. Move on! Life is too short. The old Ancestry is memory and it is in the program history books. Just like the game of “Pong” or the first Widows program versions. And I find, it really isn’t that much different at the core than the “new” Ancestry. I know people do not like change, and this has certainly demonstrated that fact! Yes, has had it’s lion’s share of problems and issues. And yes, I have experienced many of those issues, and I am sure new issues and cliches will appear in the future. If we stay focused, stay positive, and be a part of the solution and help, issues will get fixed and life will go on.

    As LifeStory , for those who aren’t fans, now you have the option to turn it off with a click. So I really don’t see the continuing fuss and making long, “sniper” comments about it. Ancestry listened and now you have the ability to do so. I fine when I am showing and teaching the younger generation about my family tree, LifeStory adds to their interest. I am trying to get the younger family generations interested (before they turn 50) so all my research that I have done for the future generations do not go to waste and placed in a file somewhere either on a dusty old shelf or on an out dated computer program that can’t be read because of old technology. When it comes to image citations, first I am thankful, people continue to share their family photos on their public trees. I have met so many relatives and put a “new dimension” and who they were by seeing an image of them. I agree, proper citation should be given with the original image owner. And sometimes, that just doesn’t happen in the real world of internet sharing. If we keep old family photo’s kept tightly in old photo albums or restricted access, they will continue their adventure of never being seen or meeting their end as unidentified old pictures that end up in the garbage can after their owner dies. Due to family members not knowing who are in the images, or not being interested in genealogy at the time. I didn’t really start my research and genealogy journey well after I was fifty years old! I can’t imagine how many old family photo’s that belong to past family members, lost their way! And I still have stacks of old images that previous generations forgot to mark and identify the people. Thankfully, I have identified some due to people posting them on line that I have access to their old photos. When I post old photo’s and see them saved and posted to other people’s trees (with or without proper accreditation) I do not get stressed about it. In fact, it gives me a smile. I might of just introduced a new family member to someone in a new dimension to their world! And that is a great gift to any genealogist or family member.

  24. Repeat

    To Starr R. Lee. No, does NOT give us the option of turning LifeStory off. It just gives us the option to live with an “abbreviated” option of it. But thank you for your self-righteous comments.

  25. May Noble

    Thank you Ancestry for allowing us to now disable the LifeStory. Those auto-generated stories contained errors pertaining to my ancestors and I did not like them. I much prefer to add my own stories.

  26. Tom

    Stan R Lee still doesn’t get it. Maybe he thinks a faucet that is off but still drips is really OFF. When we say off, we mean gone, totally! No drips!

  27. May Noble

    I see a lot of comments here in this article and in past articles regarding giving credit to submitters of photos (and documents). I myself have seen items I have uploaded to my trees with no credit given, not only in Ancestry but also on Find-A-Grave. I’ve seen many of my original one-of-a-kind photos in my possession used by others. This is not a huge problem for me as it does give an avenue to contact someone with family ties, but credit would be nice. On the rare occasion I would use a photo submitted by someone else, I always give credit to the submitter in the description of the photo I am using = “submitted by:” Gracious family members over the years who have allowed me to scan their old and new family photos, before scanners have copies made, if I use any of these on Ancestry, I thank and give the person(s) credit in the description. Also if I use a photo and/or headstone photo from FAG, I give credit to the creator of the memorial, including memorial #, as well as to the submitter of the photo if different from the creator. Personally, if someone uses something of mine without giving credit, I am not going to get angry or lose sleep over it, after all family history is about sharing – something I’ve been doing for many years. Over the past 40 years I have visited many many courthouses, State and local archives, historical societies, etc, etc, gotten literally thousands of copies of every possible record pertaining to surnames of my families, I have always sent Thank You cards to clerks, cemetery sextons, volunteers, etc, anyone who has taken their time to assist me, offered suggestions for further research, and even on occasion gotten me in contact with other family members. Words cannot expressed the love and appreciation of all the family members, no matter how distantly related and many now deceased, who have sent me information, given interviews, allowed me access to photos, family Bibles, diaries/journals, church and school records, the list is endless, and on few occasions have actually inherited these items from cousins who have pasted because I am the only family historian they have known. —– Now having said all that, I will admit after a couple of months of total frustration of using the “new” Ancestry format, functions that wouldn’t work, errors automatically appearing in my trees, etc, etc. I seriously considered cancelling my long standing membership, instead I went in and made all my trees private, then went in and deleted all photos, documents, stories, etc. and left only basic “data”. Ancestry in the past 6 months has “tried” to fix some of the problems – still has a long way to go. (Yes, I very much miss the USER FRIENDLY old format, but it is gone forever.) Glad to see LifeStory can be totally turned OFF now, didn’t like it at all and didn’t use it as a personal choice. I am going to go back now and start re-uploading all my photos, docs, etc, once done will make my trees public again. Credit given to me by someone using something of mine is not even close to being as important as the ACCURACY of everything in my family history. Family History has always been about SHARING, for those of us dedicated to it, it’s how we got started on this fantastic journey and how we continue to expand and make it grow. Thank you to all, past and present, who have assisted me on this journey – I am truly Blessed !!!

  28. Alan

    I’m so sorry that your pictures have been stolen n given credit to someone else. My heart bleeds for you all. The world could come crashing down at any minute, n your so self obsorbed with getting credit for a photo. I truely get more discussed with this world ever second. Iwannawin082@yahoo if you want to send me a personal response.
    “Save our planet” quit being so self absorbed with taking credit for nothing that benifits society!

  29. Monika

    Dear May Noble, You spoke to my heart! You are absolutely right as to the sentiments of sharing. It is not only the fact that I am not given credit for being willing to share these pictures or original birth records, etc. But, let us take for instance the example of the picture of my husband’s grandmother. I got three “hints” on grandma’s profile page. When I looked at these three hints they were all three the same picture of grandma that I had contributed and that my husband took of his grandmother. Now, if I still showed as the original contributor and someone wanted to have more detailed information about grandma they could get it from me because my husband grew up with his grandparents for a large part of his youth. The person who now shows as a “contributor” of that picture is most likely the
    “second cousin of the father in law of the wife of….” you know what I mean. So many people just like to add pictures to their trees even if they are only very distantly related to that person, if at all. So other members may miss out on the opportunity to obtain first hand knowledge about that person because the original contributor no longer shows. As to your comment that LIFESTORY can be totally turned off, you are incorrect. Yes, the “garbage” (oh pardon me “historical insight”) is gone and people you invite onto your tree can no longer see that, but the “LifeStory” page is still there. I would prefer it to be gone (via an off switch) and or to be given just a plain white page instead of the “LifeStory” page, so that I can write my own LifeStory of the people I know something about. I still find it interesting that ACOM hopes that it looks like fewer people have something to say about LifeStory by asking for the feedback on a form that does not show in this blog. By doing so they can hide all the negative feedback that comes in about LifeStory and give the appearance that everybody is fine with it.

  30. Pat

    LifeStory is a complete waste of website space. It’s nothing more than the regurgitation of the “facts” page. You can add any historical info via a “custom” event. I don’t need “historical insights” such as ~ “your great-great grandfather may have seen this comet when he was living in Detroit at age 2.” While I can’t remember the name of the comet or the year they gave, this really was in LifeStory attached to my ancestor.

  31. Monika

    As to ALAN – His message says it all. With this type of spelling skills he probably appreciates the Historical Insights! 🙂 Next thing that needs to be revised in this country is the school system. 🙂

  32. Nita Stolns

    I thought it was also just me with all the hints. With people that are not immediate family I could see that, but knowing all about my family I know I have all the information already on my family. I agree with the idea of others not taking ones photo’s and claiming as their original post. I have spent hours and hours contacting people that what they have posted is my picture, doc, etc . But any more a lot of people just don’t care and have no morals or integrity and just take what they want. Then years later when their ancestor comes on board they will say ‘Gee look what my relative did for us, saving all their family pictures for us to see’ When in fact it was never their picture at all. That is my biggest gripe with Ancestry. I have called them soo many times on so and so taking my pictures without my permission and all Ancestry tells me is ‘You must have given them permission’ ?? AND a lot of what they have taken are people still living. I have no idea how people can take people living of ones tree. Call Ancestry again. They say it can’t be done!! I tell them where to look. A lot of times a person will take them and put them on their private tree’s and then they are gone bye bye. Now let me make it known that I don’t care who takes copies off my tree, BUT please give me the credit for my own pics, doc, certs etc. Had I know from the start I would have never posted all my pictures etc on Ancestry. I was fortunate to have a lot of family pictures and 3 cousins gave me a lot of theirs. When I post the ones they gave me I always give them the credit even tho none of them are on Ancestry. Another pet peve is when they come along and change my family’s name on their tree’s. Then a lot of people not really knowing how my last name is spelled will copy off of others and it has a snow ball effect and soon ALOT of people on Ancestry have got your families names spelled all wrong. I had one person tell me when I contacted them that it doesn’t belong to me anyway it belongs to the ages so anyone can take a copy and claim as theirs or one called me a spoil sort for telling them please give me credit for my own picture. I threw up my hands years ago and knew that it wasn’t going to change. With my age and health issues I couldn’t handle the stress any longer. Sharing my problems with Ancestry so sorry I’m making such a long read. Just spouting off.

  33. Tom

    I agree with the folks who have had their photos “lifted.” We should ask before we take and re-post. We should give credit to the owners. That would be how it should be done.

    But…think about our society today. Some folks post the most intimate details of their lives and comments in any type of language they care to use on social media all the time. They hide in the anonymity of the internet. They don’t think before they do things; they just react. They want it; they take it.

    So while there are many people who take personal responsibility for what they do, there are others who don’t.

  34. Linda

    I am a long time member of Ancestry. Since I am not able to drive miles and miles for research, I appreciate what Ancestry and the many volunteers do for us. Also, I have posted many photos to of my ancestors and am always happy to share them. When I see someone has copied their mutual ancestor, I feel I am making a difference for them. Also, I have found other photos I did not have and have used them in my lineage. It makes that person so much more personal to me. Whatever issues I have had, Ancestry has answered sooner or later. So sorry many of you are unhappy with the site. In my life, this would be way down the list of my problems.

  35. Monika

    @ Linda. Nobody in this blog has complained about sharing their pictures. The complaint has to do with the insensitivity of others to take the credit for contributing these pictures. I wrote to Ancestry about that and a very nice staff member responded by saying that “…We regret any frustration caused by this issue….We realize that when a customer makes a purchase directly through us, they are making an investment in their family…..We understand your concerns with how ancestry displays who is the original contributor of media that has been uploaded. As it is currently designed, Ancestry can only determine that a member is not the original contributor of a photo if it was already on an existing tree and then saved to another tree through the options available on the site. If a member uploads a photo from their computer to ancestry, that member is not necessarily claiming that they were the original contributor, it is simply how Ancestry was designed to display this uploaded media. We apologize that this feature does not currently meet your expectations.” I hope you find my sharing this information helpful!


    I quit working to be a stay at home mom and raise my daughter, with plans to go back to work, then I was Blessed with Baby #2, they’re 3-years apart and then my mom had a stroke that left her completely paralyzed on her left side, Long story short-I now stay and take care of my mom, she has to have someone 24/7, I can’t work because I refuse to make her go to a nursing home. I have plenty of time for online searches but I only have it on my cellphone, ,I can’t use any searches that I have to pay for, and I’ve been trying to do family trees and I was wondering if anyone could send me free website’s that might help me and THANK YOU FOR HELPING ME IN ADVANCE

  37. Linda

    I would like to change the discussion a bit, to the usefulness of some of the hints. It seems that Ancestry isn’t keeping as many images as they used to, e.g., draft documents, public records, and the like. Often I think I’ve found an answer I need, but the document must be purchased from another web site. Also the newspaper archive seems fairly useless — I get lots of hints that aren’t related to my family at all. Since renewing my subscription I’ve certainly not received my money’s worth. (Also, I’ve decided not to give too much credence to the family tree hints. Most just seem to propagate mistakes. Maybe as I gain more experience with genealogy, I’m less enamored with some of the features in

  38. Ani

    Janice, The user negativity comes rising up like a volcano as few things have been appropriately addressed by Ancestry since the roll out of New Ancestry. It’s not a circumstance were some small things were tweeked, but virtually everything about the site no longer works properly. I don’t know what magic you personally possess, but the rest of us are still sitting around waiting for photos that either don’t load, or take forever to load if they load, or now for some strange reason are completely blurry. I am over joyed that the speed of uploads as quickened the last few days, but the blurry pictures and records in galleries are unusable. I am sorry, I don’t see any improvement in software that most times leads to walls. I would like to know why all the photos in Member Shared Photo Collections have no way of being traced back to their trees or profile pages. What can I do with a blurry picture I can’t trace back to a tree? I also don’t find it conductive to my research that incorrect dates are now posted to my timelines and to that of other user’s profile pages. Nor do I like the fact that prior to this I could enlarge others user’s photos to see details in the photos w/o them blurring in the least. The loaded quickly, were crystal clear, and had no thick borders around the, or obstructive over lays. One can no longer get pictures side by side to compare physical features, because of the useless thick borders, and I can’t increase or decrease the size of someone else’s photo to make it the same size as mine to help with physical comparisons. I don’t know who they polled for their research, but it certainly wasn’t any of us complaining each and everyday that the software improvements are a delusion. Before the conversion I used to rate Ancestry with a rating of complete satisfaction. I passionately recommended it to everyone. Currently I refer them to free sites like Family Tree,, Roots, the Genweb, and Newspaper Archives. And now my rating is always a zero. Yes, Ancestry still has all the record collections we need and that’s, why so many of us are trying to hang in there with the company in the hope that some of the issues above will be fixed. But the greater majority of users have locked their trees down in protest and are very unhappy with the site at present. So you are in a small minority of users who like the site anymore. Doing anything on the site takes three times as much time as it used to and nothing is intuitive. Even software engineers on the site don’t understand why certain decisions were made as they are senseless, reductive, or overly repetitive. Why can’t I just click on a picture icon and get it to open to the person’s profile the way I used to. Why should I now have to make several separate clicks to do that thing and have all those pauses between commands. I loved seeing the sample of four pictures when quickly reviewing other users tress. Now I have to go to the trouble of accessing their gallerys. I like being able to access both the index for documents and the original source document when viewing other users saved census and ship manifests. Now one only gets one of those things when viewing tress. You sometimes can’t get back to the Ancestry single index listing anymore. So yes, oh so happy that I can finally turn off those life story view with it’s poorly written prose and any cloying historical fact that I and other users have know about since grade school. But no, not at all happy with everything else. We would not need those purple lines directing us to data associated with facts if they lined up side by side the way they used to. Now everything on profile pages is a confusing mess. Before I could take it all in, in a matter of seconds.

  39. Ani

    P.S. It’s disheartening that so many users have made their tress private in protest against New Ancestry, because as a community we all suffer as a result, when we can’t make those connections. Many of these tress have 1,000 or more member profiles in them that you know the user gained via collaboration with other users. They have taken information, but are now no longer playing it forward. Which is a shame. Regarding the use of Newspaper Archives they have been a fantastic source of information for me and I have certainly gotten my moneys worth from them. You have to be dogged about it and creative and run addresses, surnames with professions, neighborhoods, nicknames, schools, military units etc. I like the Old Fulton New York Post Card Newspaper Archive which is free, and Genealogy Bank. Anna Gosnell you can try free or low cost sites: IrishGenealogy.Ie, run by the State of Ireland is free (there is a site with a similar name that is a paid site, so make sure you are on the correct one.) Their free site is a dream to use and one can see the actual church registers from all over Ireland for births, marriages and some deaths, Griffiths Valuation and many other land records as all free there. Most collage and state Libraries are digitizing their collections slowly. Census records are available for free through Family Search, and Immigration are free via Ellis and Castle Island sites. There are some military pension files and records available for free via the NRA and VA. If your doing research in NY, the German and Italian Genealogy Groups are both free and have records on Deaths, Marriages, Immigration, Alien registration cards, church records, etc and links were you can order death certificates at a discount. Cork University has many records on line. You can access the Irish missing messages from the Boston Pilot for free through the BC library. The NY State Military Museum has extensive records on Military units available for free on line. You can join Wiki Tree for free and others there will help you research your tree, you can down load your Ancestry DNA results for a small fee to Family Tree DNA and totally for free at Gedmatch where they also have cousin matching and will tell you exactly how you match someone, rather than the wide ranges Ancestry gives one. The Brooklyn Eagle Archive is free to search at There is a blog about the Bera peninsula that posts a wide range of records for free. State Libraries and the NRA have photo collections that are free to access. So there are a lot of resources out there for free that duplicate the Ancestry collection, but they are not stored in one place the way Ancestry has them. Thus Ancestry and Family Tree are the way to go in the very beginning, but once you get acclimated, I would look for free sources in your state and really look at all surname hits in state and adjoining states in a paid newspaper archive like You can search many of the New York Times articles for free and read a great deal of them for free. So there are lots of free sources out there. Roots has a message board that also posts to Ancestry for free.

  40. Carole3375

    New Ancestry has been dumbed down for the newby user market. Instead of building a complete new GUI architecture, the same Ancestry systems people who grew the old green ancestry GUI like topsy, with navigation all over the page, were given the job. The result looked like lipstick on a pig and subsequent repairs have not got back some functionality lost in the change. For example, Gallery is now usually unavailable because of response time delays (the servers are busy doing two navigation steps in place of one under old Ancestry). Even Fast Edit is unavailable more often than not.
    Yes, many long time users with mature trees have made their trees private or deleted them altogether, and discontinued their memberships in disappointment at the many imposed product changes.
    My pet hate is global Comments. My trees are littered with inappropriate and unwelcome chitter chat from harmless notes of thanks to debates and the relationship of the writer to the ancestor. It is 99% pure drivel and Ancestry has no way and has made no attempt to guide or educate members. Instead, Ancestry acts like the newest of the (anti)social medias and broadcasts these comments, complete with individual emails of notification. No wonders the servers groan under the load and fail to do real work.
    I cannot end without a broadside at “Life Story”. This article says it does heavy lifting. No it does not. It is the most superficial example of “artificial intelligence” I have ever seen. Maybe in a few years it might be an idea worth developing. Right now it is worse than worthless, it is an oxygen thief starving the Ancestry processors of the CPU cycles needed to do the basic work for which members pay subscriptions.

  41. Mark D

    I have read the blog completely and thank you all for your input and believe I’m going somewhere else very sorry for your frustrations and thank you for not letting me go through this on my own you’ve been very helpful thank you again

  42. Stan R Lee

    @Tom – If you are going to sling fact at me, please use my correct name. And if you do not like, why don’t you just move on. There are other platforms you can use maybe more to your liking. Of course, some people just like to point out fault as a way to get self satisfaction. Sincerely, “Self Righteous” S-T-A-N R. L-E-E

  43. Alma Rivera

    I am hitting a brick wall. LookinG for my mother’s ancestry. Specifically for her dads, which of course would be my grandfather. I have filled out as much info as I could. I wanted to add her syblins to see if that would narrow the search. I couldn’t find it, but I may have over looked it.

  44. Lida

    I can’t afford to get this information but it is very important to me I hve NVR met my biological father is there a way I could get a free promotion of some kind

  45. Lisa

    I hve NVR met my biological father can’t afford to get this information at this time is there a way I could get a free promotion code for this one time only

  46. Colin

    As far as I am aware we have had the ability to edit ‘Life Storey’ for a long time. If you don’t want something in there then use the backspace button on your keyboard! Come on it’s not rocket science. I have gradually grown used to the ‘New’ Ancestry site, there are some things I really like and some things I don’t, but all in all I can make it work for me. The annoyances are minor, like when we edit a transcription of a computer generated record and it never gets corrected. We all experience the same drawbacks and faults but not everyone carries on like a pork chop. Yes hints get repeated, but consider the alternative (no hints at all). Personally I would like to be able to turn member generated trees off and on as I require. Over-all I like Ancestry very much and am able to solve most of my research problems with a little thought. I don’t believe anybody should be using 1 database alone, rather use all the resources that are out there (and many of them are free).
    Oh and I recommend using Roots Magic free version so you have a desktop copy of your Tree.

  47. Colin

    Delores I hope you are now getting your free account. If you still experience a problem just ignore the ‘Pay’ prompt and try clicking on ‘Trees’, that usualy works for most people I help. Yes there is usually a minor panic when the ‘Pay prompt come up, but I believe you will find you actually have access.

  48. In the old Ancestry there was a list of all the people in the tree, where has that gone. Tonight I have gone through all the lists on show and not one of them allows me to view ALL THE ANCESTORS. The only view is if they have HINTS, Help

  49. Robin Richmond

    Well, this thread has gotten off track, but still, I want to add a note about photo credits. It’s not just about the ego of the person who originally posted a photo. Granting credit where credit is due IS important – in life, and in genealogy. Besides, misinformation about the origin of a photo, whether created intentionally or accidentally, is simply bad data. That bad data also makes hints less useful than they should be (and more work than necessary.) For to make it so easy for such bad data to exist is negligent on their part.

    Someone suggested that it’s not possible or practical for to see if a new photo already exists. That’s not true at all. It’s trivial to determine whether a photo (or document or story) is identical to an existing media item. The file size and a would probably be sufficient in – what? – 95%, 99%? of cases. And binary comparison is really not hard or that expensive. Even beyond that, readily available technology can compare text or image files to see if they are substantially similar. Those algorithms aren’t perfect, but they certainly could be helpful.
    If had any meaningful desire to discourage plagiarism, they could do so easily. (Another simple mechanism would be to add a step to the upload process that would require that users confirm whether they created, own, or have explicit permission to upload the file(s) they just uploaded.)

    And if cared at all about the accuracy or reliability of data in family trees, they would (a) rate them algorithmically, and (b) support crowd-sourced ratings. But I fear that makes too much money from people who only want to copy whatever they see, so I just don’t see it happening.

  50. Liz du Parcq

    I hadn’t really noticed Life Story until a few months ago when I saw it at the top of the profile page and clicked to see what it was. And I wasn’t impressed with either the idea of having stories made up about my ancestors, or with content like which Dickens book they might have read. My own historical knowledge is fortunately adequate to enable me to spot the significance of most things I discover.
    However I was horrified to discover what Life Story does with ‘deaths at sea’. It was as a direct result of an Ancestry hint about a great great uncle (who I had known must have been in the merchant navy as he had 2nd mate, mate and master qualifications) that I discovered his ‘death at sea’ (at age 27) in 1871, cited by a Board of Trade record that the ship of which he was mate had gone missing, with all crew, and two passengers, ‘supposed drowned’. The citation was under the National Archives heading of ‘Births, Marriages and Deaths at Sea’. This discovery led me on a couple of months of fascinating research into just how many sailing ships engaged in foreign and colonial trade went missing around that time, into the Royal Commission on Unseaworthy Ships (to which Plimsoll gave a lot of evidence), into legislation on load (Plimsoll) lines, into the cargo being carried on that ship, and its voyage. At the National Archives I read the actual log of the previous voyage (same Master, same Mate, many of the same crew), saw the actual entries made in that log by my great great uncle. I also read some Conrad novellas to get a flavour of what life was like on an iron sailing ship rounding the Cape of Good Hope and in the Indian Ocean. And I spent a lot of time perusing British Newspaper Archives to get a flavour of how important shipping news was and how much grief followed these tragedies.
    And then I read Ancestry’s dumb ‘Life Story’ which stated that my great great uncle had been born in London, had lived in Liverpool and died at ‘Sea in Somerset’ (with a map showing these three locations)! It is possible to edit the text but not delete the map. And in his wife’s Life Story it says her husband died at Sea in Somerset. There is obviously no provision in Life Story for a death (or probably a birth or a marriage) to be ‘at sea’ despite ‘Births, Marriages and Deaths at Sea’ being established sources for family history. When I asked for this error to be put right I was told to insert in the place of death in this persons profile the name of the ocean he had died in! But as the ship was last spotted in June 1871 off Port Elizabeth, heading for London it might have been lost in either the Indian Ocean or the Atlantic. Of course I got back to them only to be told that my ‘Support Case for “Life Story” has been closed’. My subsequent letter to the Company Secretary has been ignored.

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