Video: Who Do They Think They Are? – A Lighthearted Look at Today’s Genealogy Searches

A hilarious Aussie spoof of Who Do You Think You Are? has become popular on YouTube. Created by The Checkout, an Australian television program, Who Do They Think They Are? pokes fun at the Who Do You Think You Are? television program, at Ancestry.com, the Mormon Church, DNA, and even a quick jab at trying to find genealogy information on Google. It also delivers a serious message about the proper methods of searching one’s family tree.

Genealogy always has been a process of gathering information wherever you may find it and then independently verifying each piece of information to make sure it is accurate and is about the person you think it is. Research and independent verification has been a requirement of genealogy research for more than 100 years and hasn’t changed with the introduction of the Internet.

You can view this humorous video at https://youtu.be/C61tKCkR8Nk or in the video player below:

10 Comments

While presented humorously, I find the criticisms of Ancestry unfair. In example, I encourage making family trees public, and Ancestry does protect the privacy of the living; Yes, the number of hits on a search can start out ridiculously high, but Ancestry provides many ways to cull the search, and finally there are resources on Ancestry unavailable elsewhere. Do I like paying their prices? Not really, but compared to other ways of obtaining the data, it is a fair value. Ancestry is the gorilla in the room. But it is welcomed.

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    I cancelled ancestry.com in Feb., after subscribing to the entire world package from its inception. I was always a big proponent of the pay genealogy site, because I lived 52 miles rt from the nearest FHL, and justified the costs associated by the savings of gas, having to work within FHL hours, and paying and waiting for the microfilm, though I agreed it was not for everyone. For many years, it was well worth the costs, and I was very successful in my research!
    My biggest complaint with them was that everytime they “improved” the site, the ability to find information decreased and more steps were involved to get to the results that pertained to you. Once upon a time, you could put in a first name, a county/state of residency, place(maybe) and yob +-, and there would be a row of numbers in the lower r hand part of the search results for the pages in alphabetical order by surname and then byr. Even simple names were misspelled, by the census taker, and that does not include the miriad of spellings a transcriptionist can do! But, by working those numbers, you could jump from an “A” to a “K” with only a click, and amazingly you would find a surname that was spelled totally unlike the one you needed, but the location, the dates, the household members, places of birth, and occupation matched. Today, you are lucky if you can skip every other page. Sorry but soundex and phonetics are most useful with correct spellings.
    Their “improvement” to the myfamily sites didn’t address or improve the few problems users had on the original site when they came out with the beta, which were nothing more than “pay for” Facebook pages, and STILL didn’t address the few problems people had, but multiplied them! However, the hue and cry over the closing of the original pages was forestalled a few years.
    But when they decided to close them last year, they gave us 3 month’s notice, and told us they would have downloads available for us to easily remove the information from the sites we owned. Well, that didn’t work out so well for us! It took weeks before those downloads were ready, then contained only photos, with the file names replaced with, what?, about 30 numbers and letters! No iformation or discussions were transferred. Any documents that were posted under other headers were not even transferred back to us, much less the discussions that ensued around them! They were unavailable for weeks while they prepared their “new and improved” site, and we finally got them to extend to the end of September for us to get the rest of our sites down. They didn’t even wait until midnight on the 30th….we were shut off at 7pm cst. :-( The people who had started their trees to prepare for publishing a book through their My Canvas site, were in even worse shape! I don’t know if they ever sold that off so people who had been doing their research and were nearly ready to publish would be able to so, but the last I knew they were sol.
    Then, we get to their famous “shakey leaf”! Because too many people are clueless about how to do basic research, they have merged lines into their trees that have absolutely no connection to the families they are researching! Now, we have tons of worthless trees online that are just like lies….stated often enough, they become truth! There are no sources or substantiation for their conclusions. What a mess!
    Sorry, I didn’t mean to write a book.

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“The Checkout” is an Australian TV programme which deals with Consumer Affairs. This was only one 5-minute piece in a half-hour programme. While to people not in Australia the video may look like a spoof on WDYTYA, I believe it’s actually an exposure of common traps when first starting into family History plus what some people believe are dubious billing practices by ancestry.com. The giveaway to this is in the opening credits where “Discover Your Family Tree” transforms into “Discover Your Family Fee”. The video should be viewed in that sense.

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This is why I cancelled years ago.

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I have to agree with Kevin, especially regarding the privacy issue. As for the price? Since I live in a very rural area, it would cost me twice as much to get to any of the major repositories to do some of the research I’ve been able to do from my living room.

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Delbert Ritchhart April 29, 2015 at 9:37 am

Dick:
I am reminded of your recent article about people who object to paying a fee for genealogical information on the internet. For some reason they think these commercial companies should be absorbing the cost of traveling around the world to the location of the documents, scanning or copying the documents in some manner, indexing the data and posting it and maintaining it on line–all for free! Family Search does that; but it is supported by the LDS Church, whose beliefs require/encourage their members to document their family history. I am happy to pay an annual fee so that any time of the day or night, I can research my family history in the comfort of my own home. Sure beats paying transportation costs, lodging, etc. for traveling to Illinois, Missouri, Texas, Connecticut, etc. to personally find the information in a local courthouse, cemetery, library or other repository!

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I must admit I would be more amenable to paying for Ancestry if they didn’t do such a poor job of indexing. Knowing an ancestor’s biography appears in a certain book, (my family owned the book but donated it to a local genealogy library now many miles away) but not being able to access the information because the book is so poorly indexed, is a real aggravation. I understand they are a for-profit company, but some degree of quality control would be appreciated. Especially when there are so many “resources on Ancestry unavailable elsewhere”.

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Thank you Dick for inserting some humor into a field which sorely, sorely needs it. . Genealogists tend to be a self-righteous, dour bunch. How refreshing. Keep it coming.

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