Friday, 1 August 2014

Who Do You Think You Are Story - beta site review

I've just been having an early look at the beta version of the Who Do You Think You Are Story site ( from DC Thomson Family History. The premise of the site is that you can create your own version of a Who Do You Think You Are story using your own family - though anybody expecting an online television documentary is perhaps likely to be disappointed!

What the site actually does is to allow you to create a basic tree online (I think it's three generations maximum), adding facts and images about key members of the family, and to then essentially play it back in a timeline format, to the accompaniment of the Who Do You Think You Are theme tune. There are demo versions of such a tree featuring a story about Matthew Pinsent and another on Larry Lamb, both about a couple of minutes long each. Included amongst the data you supply are some historical facts to add some contemporary context, that you can keep or replace as you see fit. Once such a timeline is created, you can publish it and share it with friends via Twitter, Facebook or by email. The end game from DC Thomson's point of view is to direct people towards FindmyPast (

When I left the BBC, one thing I initially thought about was going down the route of trying to provide a sort of bespoke WDYTYA experience for people, but to do so would cost an arm and a leg - I've seen a few other people have a go (including a former BBC colleague), and their services came and duly went for that reason. It takes a lot to produce something as bespoke as an episode of WDYTYA, you are not going to get that from a free website! So this is not at all a serious family history programme production tool, or even an online tree builder - what the site is essentially providing is a fun tool to help you put together a quick presentation that you can email to your friends and family. On that thinking, it's probably a good cousin bait tool, something to fire off to the rellies to see who responds with thoughts and stories about some of those mentioned in your piece, and presentations can be constructed very quickly.

One thing to be aware of though, are some of the terms and conditions. For example:

Intellectual property rights (including copyright): All intellectual property rights in the website and the content, including the story you create (excluding of course any content contained within the story that you contribute yourself), belongs to us or has been licensed to us. You can only use it for the purposes described in these Terms & conditions. All other rights are reserved. Find out more about copyright in this government guide.

I'm not a hundred per cent sure how the intellectual copyright of the story you create can be owned by them, except for the bits that you supply! I presume that they mean the structural format or template into which you have added facts and pictures etc - but that is very unclear and needs to be explained properly.


How we use content created by users: You keep the copyright in any content that you create or publish on the website, but by publishing it you give us permission (a non-exclusive, perpetual, transferable, sub-licensable, royalty-free, worldwide licence) to use it (including editing, adapting or modifying it as we wish) for any purpose and in any media now known or invented in the future. Please be aware that we may not credit you as the author of the material.

If we use any of your personal information (for example your name) in connection with it, we will ask your permission first.

Examples of how we may use your content are that we may make it available to other users of the website, to users of websites that are either part of our company group or with whom we have a partnership, and by internet search engines.

So bear in mind that if you do add data to a presentation on the site, these are the rights that you are assigning to DC Thomson Family History. You retain the copyright, but actually, you are also giving them blanket permission to take what you create and to do with it what they will, presumably for advertising purposes. There are also the usual warnings about only using what you have copyright cleared for, not to mention living folk without their permission, and nothing offensive. You also have to be over 13 to use the site. Full T&Cs, as constituted just now, are at


Now available for UK research is the new second edition of the best selling Tracing Your Family History on the Internet: A Guide for Family Historians, whilst my new book British and Irish Newspapers is also now out. And please consider purchasing the great new version of Caledonia by The Libations at 79p via - all profits go to help fund Scottish foodbanks


  1. "You retain the copyright, but ... "
    Hmm. I know it's more difficult than one might think to cover these things robustly but with conditions like those, especially "we may not credit you as the author", one might wonder just what retaining the copyright actually means...

  2. It sounds like FMP have been reading the self serving data napping terms and conditions that google/youtube impose on their unpaid content providers, i.e. the public who provide youtube's content free of charge.

    I genuinely do doubt if the present FMP hierarchy have enough brains and or initiative to dream up that one sided deal by themselves.

    More fool anyone who is dumb enough to fed FMP with free content.