How FindAGrave Could – and Should – Be Made Better

Cedar Hill CemeteryCemeteries have a special place in the hearts of many genealogists, including me. FindAGrave has more than 154 million memorials on its site and is a valuable research tool. However, there are two key areas where FindAGrave could be made better — and should be made better. 

Anyone who makes a free FindAGrave account can add memorial pages. This allows people to add tombstones they come across in their cemetery explorations as well as adding memorials for any deceased individual.

What’s good about this is that we now have a resource filled with information and photographs that we didn’t have before. We also have a way to request photos of tombstones. (Even if you can’t see it in person, there is something special about seeing your ancestor’s tombstone.)

What’s bad about this is that some people have turned it into a numbers game. They feel the need to have the most memorials and be the first to create a memorial (even before the family has an opportunity). This leads to incomplete memorials and family members feeling hurt.

My Recent Experience With FindAGrave

My father-in-law passed away suddenly a few months ago. He died late on a Friday night. The family met with the funeral director the next morning. The obituary would run in Monday’s paper. Saturday evening when I got home, feeling beyond exhausted, I thought, “I should make his FindAGrave memorial before his obituary appears in the paper. Some stranger will surely read the paper and make it instead.”

Keep in mind that at that point, I had been a FindAGrave contributor for 7.5 years. I had also worked at Ancestry and was part of the social media team, so I saw a lot of comments about people who routinely add FindAGrave memorials by reading the obituaries in that day’s newspaper. (Ancestry purchased FindAGrave back in 2013.)

Imagine my shock and dismay when I went to create my father-in-law’s memorial and found that someone else — a complete stranger — had already done it.

He had been gone less than 24 hours. The obituary had not appeared in the paper, yet somehow this stranger had created a memorial for him.

Needless to say, I fired off a message to that person, explained who I was, and asked that his memorial be transferred to me. To the person’s credit, it was transferred to me right away.

Out of curiosity, I pushed a bit further. “So, how did you come to create his memorial? His obituary hasn’t even been published yet.” The answer astonished me.

“There is another findagrave member who posts memorials and she only writes that the  information is in the paper and states the day it is in the paper and no other info. After a week or more it is no longer available online. So I try to beat her to it and post it first so I can enter all the facts. Silly, no? Funeral homes in town post obits on line right after the plans are set for the funeral and that is why. Glad I could transfer it to you.”

I was flabbergasted.

Here I was a longtime FindAGrave contributor and someone well-versed in how quickly some people create memorials, and even I was too slow. A total stranger created his memorial less than 24 hours after he died.

In the grand scheme of things, this isn’t the worst thing that could happen. But when you’re in grief, seeing something like that really raises your blood pressure.

This experience leads me to two suggestions on how FindAGrave can be made better.

Suggestion 1: Set a Time for the Family

Grieving family members shouldn’t have to rush to create their loved one’s memorial on FindAGrave. Call me crazy, but my first thought after learning my father-in-law died wasn’t “I need to get on FindAGrave.” I thought I was doing well to think of it before the obituary was in the newspaper.

I suggest that in the process of creating a memorial if the death occurred in the last 30 days, there is a box that the person has to check stating that they agree that they related within four generations of the deceased. (This is the same criteria as for required transfers.)

I’m not naive enough to think this will stop everyone, but it should slow down some people.

NOTE: I discussed this on Facebook shortly after it happened and some people told me that it doesn’t really matter since most people don’t even know about FindAGrave. Here’s the thing: When a family member does know about FindAGrave and discovers a complete stranger made the memorial, it feels like a slap. And if the family doesn’t know about FindAGrave, then waiting 30 days to create the memorial shouldn’t bother the person making the memorial if they aren’t related. Why the rush?

The rush for many is the numbers game. Which leads me to suggestion #2.

Suggestion 2: Stop Displaying the Numbers

I am thankful for the people who have created memorials for my long-deceased ancestors. I am thankful for the volunteers who have added photos to those memorials. I enjoy walking in cemeteries and taking photos that people have requested.

(EDIT: I want to be clear. Not everyone who has created a large number of memorials is in it for the numbers. There are some incredibly dedicated — and prolific! — volunteers. There are also genealogy societies and even cemeteries that are putting their records on FindAGrave. Kudos to them! But there are some people who are driven by the numbers — the more, the better. And if they can create the memorial first, that’s all that matters to them, because it makes their numbers go up.)

The problem is that for some people — a small minority of FindAGrave users — the numbers become the primary goal. This fuels the desire to create memorials before anyone else has a chance in order to drive up the number of memorials created.

Again, if it isn’t about the numbers, then why the rush to be the first to create a memorial for a complete stranger who just died?

Stop displaying the numbers and the unhealthy sense of competition that some people have goes away.

Conclusion

FindAGrave is an incredible tool for genealogists. It provides information that we might not have access to otherwise. However, some contributors lose sight of the fact that those memorials are for real people and aren’t just numbers on their profile page. FindAGrave can be redesigned to give family members an opportunity to create the memorials for their loved ones and also remove the competition that the numbers seem to drive.

How FindAGrave Can and Should Be Made Better

FindAGrave is an incredible resource for genealogy. However, there is a problem with its basic structure. Here's how FindAGrave can get out of the numbers game.

Related Posts:

FindAGrave is an incredible resource for genealogy. However, there is a problem with its basic structure. Here's how FindAGrave can get out of the numbers game.

292 thoughts on “How FindAGrave Could – and Should – Be Made Better

  1. Well said. Anther pet peeve of mine that comes from using obits is that so many living persons have their name splashed all over FAG. The rules state that living people are not to be named. I created a memorial for my aunt, linking her to my uncle and her parents. I was contacted twice by someone telling me I should post the obit. While I pointed out to her that was not allowed because of copyright laws, she proceeded to create her own memorial and post the obit with all my cousins, their spouses and children’s names. I didn’t pursue it but so much more needs to be done.

    • “The rules state that living people are not to be named” Nie mój cyrk, nie moje malpy

      My tree———-is a jig saw puzzle w/o borders, all pieces of equal value. It is made for my extended decedents and relations. It is public, with hundreds of shares.
      So living or not is no nevermind. I use births, trees, media, obituaries, FAG for additions; basically I am a name scraper. I am careful to include existing attributions and try to record my findings.

      I do not mind errors by others, this is a $25/month hobby not anthropology. I do delete comments.
      Jim
      dryfire@dryfire.us

  2. Amy, I agree with you on this. Someone did the same thing when my father died. As you, I have been a contributor for 6 years. The man did transfer the memorial but I would have like to have time to create it!

    • The very same has happened to me in a good number of relatives, even my mother and I do under Find A Grave, have sponsored a large number of relatives.
      Most will transfer “Maintenance”, however had one nasty old lady who told me she did not care what the Find A grave rules were about relatives and will not transfer my sister. She thinks anyone who wants maintenance will mess up her entries. Talk about blood pressure going up, my ears were ringing. What a nasty old lady this was. So sad, she has the numbers game and total possession. Amy is correct this needs to change or I’m gone will go to Million Graves,.

    • Ask the creator of the memorial to delete it, then immediately pst yours. It is so unfair and wrong that you should not create your loved ones memorial. I have created memorials of many of my friends. I hop on it because there are many people who create memorials simply for the numbers!!! If and when the family wants the memorial or to even create it, I can give it to them. Others are not as nice as I am! They refuse…..what is going on here! That’s not why FindAGrave was created.
      Debbie

  3. Agree that family should be allowed to be first. Also upset that Ancestry and Family Search are allowing people to change info on trees. A lady I never heard of changed my fathers death place on my Tree. I was with him when he died. My info was correct. They also changed a lineage that is incorrect. Now I have to waste my time correcting it..Thanks for allowing me to vent.

    • This is why I will never use Family Search, but no one but you or an editor to whom you grant the privilege can change your tree.

    • That is why I REFUSE to put my tree on Family Search. I have dealt with people who have wrong info on Ancestry and in spite of very strong evidence to the contrary, they insist that their info is absolutely correct. I may miss some connections, but better than trying to clean up someone else’s mess!

      • I I agree. I have encountered trees on ancestry where the owners are ” cousin” collectors” not a bit interested that there information in incorrect and that it will be shared – they just want to see how many people they can pop into their tree!

  4. Amy, thanks for sharing your painful experience, because it opened my eyes to someone else’s perspective. I usually work on aged graves, but it never occurred to me that others might feel inhibited about asking for a transfer. Your message has caused me to change my contributor profile, stating clearly that I’m happy to transfer a memorial and that the photos I post are free to use for other purposes.

    • Not everyone is so open to transferring and responding … I have second requests out to two people right now who have completely wrong information in the FAG entries for two relatives … but no response … probably too busy raising their numbers by adding more wrong entries.

      • From the “Help With Find a Grave” (AKA “FAQs”):

        http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=listFaqs#162

        “What if I suggest a correction and the contributor doesn’t respond?

        Have patience. Many contributors receive hundreds of corrections every month and it may take a while for your correction to be processed. Also, not every Find A Grave contributor is active on a daily basis on the site. Please send the source and documentation with your ‘suggest a correction’. If you have suggested a correction and waited longer than thirty days for it to be processed or if you have found a contributor who you believe to be permanently inactive, please send the correction (forward the ‘suggest a correction’ that you sent) to edit@findagrave.com along with source and documentation, and we will edit the memorial on their behalf.”

    • Good for you Marion! I’ve had the worst experience with a “gatekeeper” of many of my family memorials with incorrect, incomplete or sloppy info but he refuses to make edits or transfer them to me because it’s his “favorite” cemetery. Frustrating.

      • My wife ran into one of those “gatekeepers”. I wrote a full detailed e- mail to Find A Grave and posted it in his e-mail as a reply, after about 50 days, maintenance was transferred to her close relative.

    • I totally agree with Marian. I wrote from day one in my writeup that transfer of, site, , photo’s i.e., all were available for closer relatives and if a dear friend, I transfer immediately. This is for the families and sometime a friend is a lot closer to a dear one than any of his/or relatives ever were. This is not about me its a history for all of us and once accurate info is posted why would I need to be involved.?

    • Thank you for your attitude on this. I wish everyone would put this statement on their contributions as you suggested. I am so appreciative of everyone that posts pics or is willing to take a pic for you as I no longer am able to travel to the cemeteries.

  5. Amy, well said and I agree with all suggestions. I have been a contributor for several years and 90% of my memorials are family. The others are family friends. When I have requested a memorial be transferred the answer is, usually, “of course” and there is no problem. However, a couple of people have refused – they are the “number collectors”. I agree – delete the numbers!! Otherwise, findagrave is wonderful and I love it!!

    • By all mean – remove the #’s. What we should do, is all who have problems with “Gate Keepers” post our complaints on Ancestry’s face book page, that might start the wheels of justice a bit faster?

      • Enough complaints will made a change, recall with there just dropping Family Tree Maker? They kept it connected and found a new sponsor for Family Tree Maker.

    • I’ve tried complaining about the same person twice — with screen captures and copies of private emails from this ‘Gate Keeper’ — and all FindaGrave said was “try to work it out with the other contributor; maybe there’s a simple misunderstanding.” It was obvious from the captures and nasty emails that Gate Keeper was hoarding, being an a** and flat out refusing to transfer to a relative within 4 generations. I got the same generic response both times. So I gave up on FindaGrave.

  6. I agree about leaving the numbers off. Another thing that bothers me is people putting memorials in cemeteries when they don’t know if they are there. And putting photos that are not of the person or their headstone, and then I can’t add a photo of the headstone or person because it already has one.!

    • FAG allows adding multiple photos on a memorial, even if you are not the manager although you need to be a member. If there are multiple photos on the memorial though, you may need to click the more photos button to see yours. There is also a Change Photo Order button but I don’t know if you can do that if you’re not the manager. I have seen memorials which have multiple headstone photos and it’s obvious that the duplicate was added because it was a better photo.

  7. I’ve also heard that some people have refused to transfer a memorial to a family member when asked to do so. I think that if a non-family member creates a memorial and subsequently a family member requests it be transferred that find a grave requires the contributor to do so.

    • Yes, FindAGrave requires a transfer if the person who requests it is within 4 generations of the deceased (provided that the person who created the memorial isn’t more closely related). If the person refuses, you can send an email to edit@findagrave.com. Include the memorial # and explain the situation.

      • oh Amy, you are a girl after my own heart. I have found FAG has become find an obituary. I am currently working a little cemetery at the end of my street, I go take 30 or forty pictures and create a memorial then I go do an is based on social internet search and match people with relatives and fill in dates and places, that is what helps genealogy searches.

        • I thought it was only a DIRECT DESCENDANT of the person within 4 generations? I’ve asked for management of a ggreat aunt’s memorial, but the creator will not transfer because I am not a direct descendant. She is no relation to her however…….

          • Yes, it is direct relationship so your ggreat aunt is not a required transfer and the memorial manager decided not to transfer to you. Doesn’t matter if the manager is related or not.

  8. Amy, you have sound arguments, made even moreso by your personal bad experience. I’m sure the statistics numbers on find-a-grave are intended to encourage active participation, but they are obviously also encouraging ill side effects. Removing the stats might discourage some people, but those that remain — the ones that care more about genealogy than bragging rights — make this kind of research enjoyable.

      • I don’t care who puts the information out there, it is just a tool to help connect families. If the person who made the page will not respond, or change wrong information; I just correct it with a note in the flowers section. Even wrong info sometimes can be helpful in locating a family member who has moved away or remarried.

  9. My Find-A-Grave experience has mostly included ancestors whose list of children is incomplete. Annoying when I know who the missing people were but what about other hard to find or prove who their spouses or children were?

    • I think it’s important to remember the purpose of FindAGrave — the memorial pages, not the linking of relationships. That’s a nice feature, but we shouldn’t expect those to be complete or even accurate any more than any other source.

    • If the memorials for all of the children/siblings have the same parents ‘edited’ into their memorials, they will all show up. So you just need to edit the memorials in include the parents …
      In other words, when you try to edit a memorial, there is no place to enter siblings – you do it by making sure the parents are entered for a each child.

  10. Good ideas! I lost my dad a few months ago and by the time I had a clear enough mind to think about it, his memorial was made by someone that had a long list of rules written in her bio and she told people they should grow up if they don’t want to follow the rules. ? Luckily she did transfer it right away but I was upset by her bio. The rest of my family in the same cemetery was under a guy that lives in Michigan. I am in PA. Why is someone making memorials in a place they can’t possibly take photos? I thought that was the point…to help people by taking photos of their family’s grave. I don’t understand that. Thanks for writing this, Amy!

  11. One of the things that bothers me about find-a-grave is that I’m not sure what to do with the extra info I often find on the memorial pages of my ancestors. For example, many pages include a detailed biography, and/or a list of alleged relatives with their birth/death dates, etc. These seem helpful, but they are usually unsourced — i.e., no citation showing where the contributor got that info. As a newbie family tree researcher, I hear a lot about how proper citations are key to ensuring your tree is correct. So, I usually (reluctantly) “ignore” the extra info I see & only add whatever facts are shown in the headstone photo. Am I being too careful?

    • The unsourced material drives me nuts, too. This is one approach, and there are probably many others. What I do is copy it into a notebook and label it clearly FAG, so that I know it still needs to be checked. Sometimes the people who entered the info have indeed done careful research–and some even quote sources. (What a concept!) At the very least, it gives you possibilities to pursue, which I have always felt is better than a blank slate. So I don’t totally ignore that additional information.

      • FAG is a memorial site, not a genealogy site, and does not provide a place for the long list of source citations that establishes the accuracy of the information. For that reason, it is apropriate that they are not listed (although I’m always happy to see them when some are provided). No one should accept as fact what they find on FAG or Ancestry, but instead can use the information as clues or direction and the. Find the verification before including it in family trees. Headstones aren’t verification either because many have mistakes on them, so it doesn’t hurt to keep notes on what is found in the obits and then look for the verification of,that info and what is on headstones.

        I think the four generations requirement on FAG is too limited. Great-grandparents are not that far back, our own generation and our children and grandchildren should be a no-brainer, and there aren’t even that many people still living to meet the four generation criteria, so the counting should only be ancestors. Four generations back from us would be better. If there has to be a limit, it should be 3rd great-grandparents, but really, why set that limit at all..

        I also think if any relative requests a transfer from a non-relative, regardless of generation or direct line, the transfer should be required. I was attached to aunts, uncles, great aunts and uncles, and cousins. I can’t be the only one. So why should strangers, non-relatives, be able to deny relatives? Of course, if a direct descendent later requests a transfer, then I can see the non-direct descendent required to make the transfer.

        Recently, I had two memorials transferred to me, and then a few weeks later they were transferred back with no notice to me whatsoever. That was disconcerting and it felt really disrespectful.

        There is a lot of misinformation on FAG because people furiously adding memorials are using family trees on Ancestry as their source, while Ancestry is rife with misinformation.

        • I agreed with you until you went off on the 4 generations. The point on the required transfers is so that you can manage the memorial of those direct ancestors whom you most likely knew. The limit was set because not having a limit caused a lot of hard feelings. Were you on Find A Grave then?

        • This is the most difficult of situations when we all disagree on how find a grave works best for all. I am a DAR and have volunteered for Find a Grave for over 15 years and have been doing research for 40 years with my parents doing it for me before that. I absolutely disagree with the edit buttons that people can add information without documentation. Proofing everything is time consuming and the site is now flawed to the point that linage societies no long use it as proof. It’s a shame that we do not guide less educated genealogists in the correct way to do the research. I am always helpful, transfer to anyone who wants to maintain their own family and I do not care about numbers at all, but I do think find a grave has evolved to a place that is just as much a source as other areas on Ancestry. We need to take it more seriously and change the rules to save the integrity of the site. Add a documentation space under the edit buttons specific requests, so if you want to add a family member or a date or other info you must have proof.

  12. Great post Amy. I too had a Find A Grave surprise following my Dad’s passing. A total stranger had already created a memorial for him and placed his obituary in the memorial. Thankfully I was able to have my Dad’s memorial transferred to me, but still. It would have been nice if I could have created my own Dad’s memorial on Find A Grave.

  13. Amy,
    I enjoy your posts. You describe a grievous problem here, your reasoning is sound, and your suggestions for the site’s improvement are well stated. I suggest, if you haven’t done so already, that you contact Ancestry.com and give this grievance and correction to them. Hopefully your ideas will get added to their To-Do list. This is one that way sites are made better.

  14. Amy,so sorry you had that upsetting experience. I totally agree that a 30 or 60 or 90 day waiting period would help avoid that troubling situation. I also support a mandatory transfer to family members if requested. But I feel a little differently about the numbers. I have been fortunate to be the recipient of very valuable information about my ancestors on Find-A-Grave that I might not have been able to obtain otherwise. I am grateful for whatever has motivated the many contributors. Some people are “numbers” people. Many researchers might suffer if we took anyway the large contributors that get a thrill as they see their numbers rise.

    • It could be set up so that people see their own numbers, but that they aren’t public. That’s where a lot of the competition and sense of urgency come in.

      • I love your idea about they can see their numbers, and maybe even their place in the “Numbers game”! But that others cannot see it, therefore eliminating this horrible numbers game they seek.

        • No, no comparisons to others, no ‘place’ in the game. They can tell how many they’ve made.
          – I just can’t imagine how foolish it is to be excited or proud of how many entries you’ve made on the bodies of other people. It’s not a game, even for yourself and especially not against others’ numbers. I don’t see the value in the statistic, not even shown to oneself. It’s pathetic to sit in your armchair and say ‘only a few more to create for 100 memorials’, ‘wow I got to 5000 memorials, what a good mortographer am I!’. You are able to see the memorials you’ve made, that should be enough.
          Find-a-Grave should have a transfer form and form reply, followed by a requestor option to dispute form refusals triggering FAG to process the conflict… and an auto-review if the form is not answered within x days.

  15. Agree completely. It seems like some Find A Grave members see it like some see facebook but they are collecting dead people instead of friends. Why does everything have to become a competition for some people?

  16. I totally agree with your post. I had an experience with a person who had just taken a picture of the tombstone I was there to take. I asked him did he claim the request and he said he never bothers because he’s not sure he’d have time to do it. While that may be convenient for him, to me it’s thoughtless of other contributors who try to honor requests. I don’t know if there is anything Find A Grave can do about it but it sure makes me think twice now whether I should accept a request.

    • Patricia, this particular instance would be annoying, but keep in mind that sometimes there is just overlap. If I go to the cemetery, for myself or at a request, I usually will snap as many other graves in the area as I have time for. Occasionally, when I go to post them, I will get a popup telling me a fulfilled a request (unknowingly). If a picture is already posted, I look to see if my picture adds anything (different angle/light/readability/etc). If so, I will post it also. If mine is no better than one already posted, I just delete my copy from my computer. Occasionally, because I was at a cemetery at a different time, maybe even years apart (when I took pictures before FAG was around and I knew how to use it), the more recent photo is of a damaged and unreadable stone whereas mine was taken before it suffered.

      But, yes, that person you mention was being consciously inconsiderate.

      – D

  17. The problem with leaving 30 days for family members to post is that many online newspaper obituaries and funeral home listings will no longer be available at that point, so that local researchers who usually post will not have access to the information unless they saved/archived everything for future use.

    And a waiting period still doesn’t resolve the issue of rival family members out-posting each other.

    My feeling is that we don’t own the dead. We don’t own their graves (even if we paid the funeral expenses). We don’t own their obituaries, and we don’t own their Find-a-Grave listings. Take “ownership” (and numbers) off all the listings. Let family modify what a local researcher put in without having to ask for the listing to be transferred. People willing to do additional research can be listed on a contributor list for the cemetery as a whole, but not for individual graves. Or maybe you make a “contributor list” for each grave (contributors’ names in alphabetical order, please, but only if the contributor wants to be named), but don’t keep count, and don’t let one contributor control whether other people contribute information.

    Find-a-Grave info isn’t private. It’s taken from obituaries, funeral home listings, and family members, and the info is available for publication–and revisions–immediately. If you take ownership off the listing, you can take the “triumph” out of scalp-hunting. Would you have minded another researcher posting your FIL’s listing if that researcher’s name hadn’t laid claim to the contribution?

    • Kathy — If someone cares enough to want to create memorials and there is a 30-day waiting period, they can do what researchers used to do: Take notes. They can keep track of the obituaries with the names and dates and post them after 30 days. Yes, it’s an extra step, but it would give the family time to create a memorial.

      You’re right — we don’t own the dead. But we should show respect, especially when the death is so recent. Would I have cared that someone else created his memorial even if their name wasn’t on it? Yes, I would. Because the act of creating it could have been therapeutic. Instead, seeing that it was already done was a source of stress.

      • Wonderful answer, Amy. I agree with Kathy’s point that we don’t own the dead, but that idea is much more applicable to our ancestors. I recognize that my 3rd great-grandparents have hundreds of descendants, but my dad just has me. So, while our ancestors can be claimed by many and their place in history can be honored by anyone, our immediate families’ memorials should be reserved for those who knew and loved them in life.

    • Great Idea. Its not about use the living, its to ensure the dead are honored, accounted for and info is available for future generation. Excellent Idea.

  18. Thank you so much for sharing! I agree completely. I had a similar experience with memorials for my grandparents. It was a whole week after my grandma passed before I thought of going to FaG to create a memorial. I was hurt to find one was already made. It was a struggle to get the person who had created it to transfer it to me, and I’m annoyed that their name is still on the memorial after transfer. I’m only the current manager of her memorial, and I couldn’t be the creator. I understand that people want to be efficient and create memorials for the recently passed, but is love to see the 30 day wait time for non-family members!

  19. So sorry that you had this upsetting experience. When I saw the title of your article, I was hoping you might address ways to limit the phony information that is put on Find a Grave. As I said above in a a reply to another person, there are people who have researched and sourced the information, and even when they haven’t done so, a list of names gives me a starting point for research. However, it would be nice to at least encourage care in sharing information. Although you say its a secondary feature and we shouldn’t rely on it, we know that some people WILL rely on it, so why not at least encourage accuracy.
    The incident that flabbergasted me was when a person posted a (portrait)photograph with an obituary of a person who died well before photography was available!
    Meanwhile, I totally agree with your two suggestions!

  20. Sorry to take up so much space here, but I have a question. I have never adopted any of my ancestors or family members’ memorials. Once they are established, if I see errors I can correct I do so, but I didn’t see the advantage to taking “ownership”. Can someone explain, please.

    • The main “advantage” to “ownership” of a memorial is that you have control over what is posted. If someone suggests an edit, you have the ability to review it and say yes or no. This limits misinformation being posted. Likewise, not everyone will agree to edits, so even if you see an error and suggest an edit, the “owner” can say no and the correct information may never get posted. I’ve actually had very few people refuse to post corrections, but I know that it does happen, which can be frustrating when you know the memorial contains erroneous information. I love findagrave but view it like I do undocumented trees on Ancestry-use the information as a hint until you can establish its validity.

  21. Wow. Just wow. So the person who created your father-in-law’s memorial, Amy, simply got it from the very brief notice put out from the hospital or preliminary funeral home information? Appalling.

    FindAGrave is mature enough now that taking away the numbers should be no problem if ithe contributors are also mature. This isn’t a video game!

    I have tried to determine whether or not a transfer within four generations only includes direct descendants. Do you know? The FAQ isn’t clear.

  22. Amy, I agree with you completely that Find a Grave should stop publishing the numbers to stop the competition. Now that it’s been bought out by corporate America, Ancestry.com, I doubt that will happen. In my opinion, this competition and number’s game is morbid and brings out the very, very worst in human nature.

    I’ve met some really wonderful, generous people on the site. I’m also a contributor. But I’ve also run into some very awful people who are doing nothing with the memorials but piling up their body count. They won’t give up their spoils even if I tell them I’m related and have thoroughly researched the ancestor. Some use the “direct relatives within four generations” rule. But we all know they can still transfer the memorial anyway because other contributors do all the time. They’re just protecting their numbers count. Some don’t even bother to reply or make any changes, when you respectfully submit important corrections.

    I am certain that my ancestor would be appalled that a stranger is refusing to transfer the memorial to a descendant. If someone ever does that to one of my descendants about my headstone, I will come back and do all sorts of ghostly shenanigans to them.

    And what’s with all the photos of cemetery entrances without a photo of the headstone – when I know there is a headstone? Some of these contributors are cheating.

    Would love to see a magazine like The New Yorker write an expose on this morbid, disgusting competition to pile up the bodies. Thanks for letting me vent.

    • There’s no requirement that the memorial be created with a photo. As for the cemetery photo, that’s added automatically if there is a photo for the cemetery.

      • I figured that, Amy, but in my opinion, there should be a rule about a photo of the headstone, if a headstone exists. This is undoubtedly a tactic for numbers-motivated contributors to use cemetery rosters to add to their tally, without even visiting or sending someone else to the grave. Graves are very personal things, which mean a great deal to relatives and descendants, and they shouldn’t be treated this way.

        • I think one way so many of the memorials have been created is that someone just got the cemetery records … they have not ‘walked’ the cemetery with their camera in hand …

          • Yes, that happens. I had transcripts from a research partner who died before she entered much in FAG. Her info was entered without photos. Another person is walking the same cemetery 10 years after she did, adding the photos for those entries and adding memorials for later burials. I’ll do the same for another small cemetery that hasn’t attracted a photographer. It’s a collaborative project & it would be nice if everything went smoothly, but there will be “bumps” just due to human nature.

            I can’t agree to only entries with stone photo. Sometimes there is no stone. I really don’t like memorials where a photo is made up to say “No Stone” – the index looks like there should be one there & leads to disappointment. It would be nice to be able to set a flag for that so the index could reflect it.

          • Lynn, walking the cemetery with camera in hand is not required. Find A Grave itself added huge numbers in just that way – adding the VA records.

      • Many graves have no stone, thus, to require a headstone photo would mean many ancestors could not be memorialized. Then there are those like my father and uncle who were cremated. My father’s ashes went into a river. No headstones for them either.

          • Yes, what about the many unmarked graves that would be forgotten about if not for wonderful researchers who took trips and tracked down the paperwork on those pioneers, etc who deserve to be remembered. One of my Rev Patriots and many in his family were buried in a cemetery in PA and when the church decided to build a new building they dug up those graves and reburied them stones and all in one big pit in a large city cemetery with no markers. Numerous descendants were able to track this down and now a few of them have names, dates and the story on their posts. I respect the need to name our pioneer ancestors and want to see the documentation of their burial and lives.

        • Excellent points. The reason for FAG is to memorialize people and you don’t need a headstone photo to do that although it definitely adds to it. I really appreciate the ability to request headstone pictures of relatives when I can’t get to the distant cemetery myself and FAG is the only way I can do that that I know of.

      • I’ve seen wrong cemetery entry photo’s posted just because they have the same name, but I know for a fact it is no where near the place where the memorial(person in interred) Not even the same state. I have taken approx. 1,000 photos of relatives and extended families all across the country and Canada. I have not posted them. I make a card file that is with the photo giving all the vitals: name, surname, maiden name, parents, cause of death if known, date & place of birth, marriage, death, spouse etc. Place of burial. I am not a name collector, just a dedicated genealogist/family historian. I sort the cards/photos into boxes indexed boxes are separated by my line or my spouses line each in their own boxes.

  23. My parents died at the same time 8 years ago and someone posted their obit and created their memorial before I could. They did not include my father’s name, only his initials, which is how the obit was written. I requested that it be transfered to me and that was done but I was very disappointed that I did not get to create it myself. People need to wait and give the family a chance. You said it well.

  24. Always a heated subject. I totally agree. I HATE to see a memorial created by a stranger even before a person’s funeral. As for the waiting time it would be nice but, 1) IF a family member is allowed to create the memorial during that time period they are going to have to prove their relation, aren’t they? Admins won’t want to get into that and 2) If even family members have to wait, it’s just going to be the same as now – whoever gets there first gets it. It makes me absolutely sick, but I know if I want to be the one to create my family’s memorials I have to do it even before I am willing to accept the fact that they are gone. My grief processing period will be disrupted & I’ll have to deal with it.

    • To your point #1 — that’s exactly why I’m not calling for proof of relationship. Just a box that someone must check that they are related. It isn’t a perfect system and there will always be feuds about memorial pages even among family members. But it would be helpful, I believe, to make this issue forefront when someone is creating a memorial for a newly-deceased person.

      To your second point, I think the removal of the numbers (at least from public view) would help the “I gotta do it first” mentality.

      • Amy, when you first join a site that requires checking a box that you have read and agree to the Terms & Conditions, do you ever just check it withOUT reading them? We all do. Why would it be any different on Find A Grave?

          • That we all mindlessly check those boxes because we cannot continue without doing so.
            Your suggestion included “a box that the person has to check stating that they agree that they related within four generations of the deceased” and it would probably be mindless;y checked just like all those other required boxes we encounter all over the web.

          • As I said in the post, I’m not naive enough to think it would stop this practice. However, I do think it would slow people down. Plus it would be easy for FindAGrave to monitor if someone is creating dozens of memorials every month for newly-deceased people who supposedly are within 4 generations of them.

          • Amy, rules are useless unless they are enforceable.
            If you’re honest, you’ll admit that you want assurance that you will be the only one allowed to make a memorial for your family member.

          • If people misused the checkbox and created memorials for all the obituaries that appeared in the paper on a given day, FindaGrave admin could easily monitor this. They have been known to revoke privileges from users who violate the rules.

  25. If I could redesign the site, I would like to see the focus put back on the information you can find by going to the cemetery itself — primarily from the transcription of the stones, and from records created by the cemetery (e.g. one cemetery has memorials which have been created from the plot index cards and other lot ownership records). In the “Memorial Inscriptions” section I would have a section for links to memorials where people appear on the same stone, and for memorials whose stones are *in the same cemetery*.

    On my ideal site, a “Virtual Cemetery” section would hold all the memorials created from obituaries and death notices from newspapers that mention the cemetery. Family members who had personal knowledge about which plot held their relatives’ remains could create their own memorial in a “Family Memorials” section and link the entries from the Memorial Inscriptions section to the appropriate newspaper notices from the “Virtual Cemetery” section. They could also link to family members who are in a different cemetery (but those links would be in a clearly-marked “see related memorials in other cemeteries” section).

    Let each contributor have an attribution for their own part — whether it is a transcription of the stone, the photo, the authored bio, the references to the obituaries, or the “family” memorial which pulls all the pieces together.

    I would also discourage people from citing sources that do not reference the cemetery. One memorial I’ve found has conflated two families, so instead of two couples, each with three children, there are two memorials for one husband and wife with six children. The memorials for the husband and wife cite the parents’ names for the husband and wife (i.e. the grandparents for the six children) — but those parents belong to the couple which is NOT the one buried in that cemetery. I suspect the memorial creator was led astray by Ancestry hints and did not work hard enough to disambiguate the two couples — but if you do a little research, it’s easy to construct separate timelines for both families. We can link “Notes” now, but it would be useful to have a “link a Proof Statement” feature that would distinguish research material from the more personal notes about the memorials.

    • Your ideas are wonderful!! When you o create this new site, please be sure to advertise it because I’d love to contribute.

      Just a couple of questions about your “ideal site”.
      How will it address recent deaths?
      When you mentioned “Virtual Cemetery” section and “Family Memorials” section, do you mean multiple memorials will be allowed for each person?

  26. I somewhat agree but not entirely. I am one of those who puts up memorials as soon as I see the obit. I don’t care about the numbers. I don’t even know how many memorials I have posted and don’t care. My intent is only to insure that the information is posted. I welcome transfer requests (less for me to do). I also post photos that accompany an obituary. There are times that after 30 days or so the photos are deleted from some web sites. I don’t have any idea why they would do that but I like to make sure that if a photo accompanies an obituary it gets posted on the memorial before it disappears. I applaud the efforts of family members (and anyone else) who create memorials on Find A Grave but you know as well as I that if we wait for someone else to do it it may NEVER get done. I am sad that this person felt slighted or disrespected but I cannot speak to her and her personal feelings. I don’t understand why it is at all important to be the first to post information. I would think that a total stranger taking the time to create a memorial for their loved one would be flattering not disrespectful.

    • It isn’t about the memorial being transferred. As I mentioned, the one for my father-in-law was transferred to me after I requested it. The issue is that a complete stranger created it. I, along with other family members, did not feel flattered. We didn’t feel disrespected, either, but we did feel like we lost an opportunity to do something. Even though I started to create a memorial the day after he died, I was too slow. It’s a lot to ask a family member to have “Create FindAGrave memorial” at the top of the to-do list when someone dies. I would have felt a bit better about it had it been a family friend or a neighbor. This was a complete stranger. That felt wrong.

      By the way, unless you have the copyright for that photo, you shouldn’t be adding it to FindAGrave (or any other site).

      • Whenever I have created a memorial too soon, and a family member request a transfer, I tell them to create their own, then notify me and I will delete mine. That way it is “their’s” and not mine.

          • Sorry for your loss, but looks like a lot of the volunteers have the right amount of heart and compassion for Find a Grave. Yes, we all have come across difficult people but as I said before the site has evolved into a genealogy site as well as a grave site. I appreciate every single person who has posted what ever their motivation, but I do think it is very important to add documentation. You just can’t say “My grandmother told me.” Thanks to everyone who has added family that I couldn’t get to in other states.

      • Henry, you may not have realized that there is another issue that occurs when unrelated people rush to create memorials like you do. My sister died suddenly and tragically at 39. I created her memorial and a number of her friends posted lovely tributes to her. Unbeknownst to me, someone else had already created a memorial for her but had not placed her in a cemetery because that info was not in her obit. When I found the duplicate months later, the person transferred it to me but because Find a Grave rules for duplicate memorials require the newer memorial be deleted, I had to delete my memorial with all of her friends’ tributes. I was heartbroken all over again.

        • It may be too late to correct the deletion of your sister’s 2nd memorial, but you should ask at the Find-a-Grave forums. Since your memorial had a location and the older one did not, yours should have been kept. And it is possible for the curators /administrators at Find-a-Grave to merge memorials to keep the best of both, if that is desired.

          In the Find-a-Grave FAQs: “…In regard to duplicates, a memorial with a correct known burial location will always be preferred over an unknown burial location. A member has thirty days to update the memorial to the correct burial location on recent deaths. If a case of duplicate memorials falls to the Administration, the Administration will have the final word on which memorial is deleted and which data will be retained in the remaining memorial page [i.e. merged]. …” [http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=listFaqs#141]

        • My understanding is that you are definitely right, Julia. I’ve never liked that though since the picture posted may have been taken and supplied by a family member. It seems like the family member gives up his or her own copyright by giving the photo to the funeral home to post with the newspaper obituary.

          • The family does not give up copyright by allowing the funeral home to publish the photo. Copyright is all about controlling how that material can be used. Just because the family granted the funeral home permission to publish it doesn’t mean that the family grants everyone permission.

    • A total stranger created a memorial for my parents, complete with a photo of their headstone. It was jarring to come across that on Find A Grave. I am still grieving both of them, especially my mother, whose death was recent. I do not wish to see photos of their headstones posted in a public place. The poster also added my mother’s maiden name to the post, which is personal information not listed on her gravestone.

      Why do you feel the need to post vast amounts of information regarding recently deceased strangers? Is there a religious belief associated with it? It seems odd, at best, and insensitive to the descendants of the recently deceased.

      • Don’t “blame” the memorial manager for every iota of info on the memorial. Someone else may have submitted the maiden name if they saw it in the obit or a public tree on the internet.

        It would seem that your parents are buried in a cemetery that is open to public visitation, lest the photographer would not have been able to photograph the marker. Find A Grave is but one site on which burial info is posted. While it is the most well-known, there is no guarantee the photographer ONLY posted the info there. It may be on BillionGraves, or a locality-based genealogy site or a statewide cemetery project site. You don’t own the information about your parents or their burial location.

  27. Amy, this is a great article. Sadly, I doubt anything will change about the way things are being done.

    My brother was dying from liver cancer this year. He and I had discussed Find A Grave issues in the past and about a week before he passed in May, he asked me to create his memorial. We sat together while he was still lucid and did it his way. He knew the time was close and that he probably would not live out the month of May. We just put his death date as the month and year. He died on May 28th.

    This is not the way it should have to be and I realize the whole of the country isn’t into genealogy nor worried about Find A Grave during a family member’s final days. For those of us who do know this happens, shouldn’t have this added worry. People that are just number crunchers should think about how greedy they come across to others.

    Thank you again for writing about this problem.

      • I agree that it’s a shame you had to resort to this. I think it’s important, however, that your brother asked you to do it and that gave him the opportunity to contribute to it. I would like to think that I might get the same opportunity for my memorial or those of my remaining siblings but I’m the one of the five of us who seems to care about this stuff.

  28. I like the numbers. But they can do away with the list with the most numbers. For people who have goals of so many photos or memorial per year, the numbers help. I have been a contributor for over 12 years, and can only remember one memorial I wouldn’t transfer. That’s because they were related through their husband the same way I am through mine. So not a required transfer and both related. I also take the surviving members out of recent obits when I post them. I do often run across the same names of people adding tons of memorials in my area, and they don’t even live here. It is a frustrating problem.

    • I am a member of the Patriot Guard Riders. Have discovered some people are using their notification system to add memorials. Often with just a name and year of death. The PGR escort Veterans to the cemetery, stand a flag line at the funeral home, and provide support for families. Their notices often go out before the obits. It drives me nuts when people don’t do more research into who the person is that they have listed.

      • Why? The memorial can be updated at any time. It’s not like carving the stone itself that must be complete from the get go.

  29. A friend recently passed away, and I was helping someone in the family to figure out where and when his grandfather died. He was named after his grandfather. Imagine my surprise when I entered in info on Ancestry it lead me to Find A Grave and the memorial for this friend. The funeral home posted just his name online nothing had been written yet for the obit. I looked and this person had 24,000+ memorials. I think there ought to be a waiting period after a person dies before a memorial can be made.

    • I don’t understand the problem with listing a name, date of death, and burial site and getting it online. I would rather find only that versus nothing at all when I am searching for relatives and ancestors. Once found, we can add information.

      Even a memorial created by a stranger after a recent death can be transferred and redesigned by relatives so that it truly becomes their memorial of their loved one. I’ve completely changed some of my ancestors’ memorials so that they are now dignified, well-written, and provide biographical information plus photos. Isn’t it possible for relatives of the more recently deceased to find some comfort and satisfaction in doing the same to new memorials transferred to them?

      • For me, there really was little comfort in having it transferred to me. I was grateful that it was a simple process, but it hurt that a family member wasn’t able to create it. It may not be the most logical reaction, but who said that people act logically in a time of grief?

  30. Thank you for a wealth of info, I’m pretty new to the world of researching my family history and I had no idea that one could enter family members on a memorial site at Find a Grave.

    I do have a question and if someone could answer it, I would be grateful: Why is it a numbers game. What happens if you have very high numbers? Is it a matter of credibility? Thanks so much for any answer and again, thanks Amy, I love getting all the info you provide.

    • I’m not sure why some people are all about the numbers. (It’s a small percentage of FindAGrave contributors. I hope I didn’t come across as saying that all of them are that way!) Maybe it’s the “there’s a list and I need to be at the top” mentality. Maybe it’s the “credibility” they think it brings. I’m not sure.

      Also, not everyone with a large number of memorials is in it for the numbers. Some people are just prolific at making memorials. But for the people who view it as competition — “I have to post it first” — it sure distracts from the enjoyment and usefulness of the site.

      • Amy, I found that many of the “large number” contributors have found books of cemetery listings in used book stores, libraries, etc. It’s easy to just transfer the data to a spread sheet. I think some people are wrong to just vilify everyone with large numbers. Yes, some of entered in too fast. But, with the rules of transfer, request it’s transfer shouldn’t be a problem. It can always be reported to Admin.
        My problem with large numbers is that they usually just list names and dates. No linkings, even if using photo do not link spouses. I always work with Ancestry open at the same time and link as many people as possible.

    • The only people who think it is a “numbers game” are those who are disgruntled they didn’t get to create a memorial for their family member.
      There are no prizes or rewards. No matter of credibility. It’s just a hobby. No two people with the same hobby will do it the same. Some will work on their hobby in every spare moment, some will only work on it occasionally.

      • Sally — I’ve seen people bragging about their numbers and having more than others, so it is not accurate to say that the only ones who think it’s a numbers game are those who, in your words, are disgruntled they didn’t get to create a memorial for their family member.

  31. I love FAG and find it to be very helpful but in some ways it causes problems. I have a distant cousin who put up a memorial for our shared 2nd great grandparents. The problem is no one knows where they are buried. We know what has been passed down but there is no proof. It is thought our grandmother is buried in another cemetery than her husband but she has them in the same one. This lady also linked both of them to families. No one knows who their parents were. Now people on Ancestry are going with her information which is easy to disprove. I can’t ask for a transfer because we are in the same generation. It is very irritating.

    • There was a woman on FAG linking her distantly related ancestor she’d become attached to my direct ancestor, as her ancestor’s out of wedlock father. However, there was no evidence to back up the claim and DNA testing of dirct descendants of both of them showed no familial relationship between the two families. She’d just read someone’s totally unsupported and leap-of-logic theory on Ancestry (as did others who all rushed to add the fictionalized relationship to their family trees) and she was attached to the story. After I wrote to her and provided the evidence that she was wrong, she removed the links, but she refused to take it out of the bio.

      Well, not only was he my ancestor, but I am also an historian and I can’t abide misinformation from sloppy research left published online, so I wrote to her again and again provided the evidence to support my claim that she was wrong. She again refused to remove the relationship theory from her ancestor’s bio, and responded as though she was being harrassed. So I wrote to FAG Admin, provided them the same information, and requested they intervene and remove it, which they did.

      • The admins at FindAGrave are good about responding to issues like that, as well as issues of copyrighted information being posted without permission.

  32. Thanks for your good insights. When our son died we were in shock. But I was left standing in the hallway while the organ donation people were talking with my wife. I decided to go ahead and enter a bare bones memorial, name, dates only. That way I was sure it was done right.
    I have also, when hearing of the impending deaths of relatives, entered a bare bones memorial using just initials. All of these already had headstones, which use to be allowed on F-G. Later that day I would go in and fill out the details.
    I know that not everyone can do this.

    • Robert — I applaud your strength. I cannot imagine having the presence of mind to create a memorial page in the midst of that. And thank you to your family for being organ donors. It can be such a tough decision for a family. A family member of mine was given the gift of several more years of life because of an organ donation.

  33. The numbers game. Forgive me for two post but needed to make a reply. I recognize many of those in the numbers game. But when I began over 9 years ago, there were not that many contributors. I was surveying my parents cemetery. 30,000 graves, at the time only 5,000 memorials. I’ve since done over 5,000 from that cemetery. Am I doing it for the number. No, it too much work: going out and photographing when it’s 95, or when I’m not feeling well. Plus it’s a 120 miles drive one way. There are still over 12,000 undocumented graves in that cemetery. Everyone should be remembered.
    I’m not Jewish, but have a love for the Jewish people and am a historian. Had discovered one concentration camp had never been included in F-G. Am now working through a list of over 5,000 names. It is very slow. I figure this one will take me over a year to do.
    No one should be forgotten.

    • “No one should be forgotten.” I agree wholeheartedly, Robert. Your comment prompted me to edit my post to make it clear that not everyone with a large number of memorials is “in it for the numbers.” Many, like you, are dedicated, hard-working, committed volunteers. It’s the ones who *are* in it to up their stats who make it tough on everyone else.

  34. One of my concerns with limiting the creation for the first 30 days (or whatever number of days) is that we will see a large drop-off of new memorials being added, which means those memorials may never be created. The original point of the website was to remember those who had passed.

    I suppose one solution would be to place a newly created memorial in limbo and a family member could override it within the designated period, but the programming logic needed for that is probably more than Ancestry would want to do on a site that does not directly generate income.

    • The original purpose of FindAGrave was to list the graves of famous people. It eventually changed so that people could add anyone.

      The idea of putting the memorial of a recently-deceased person “in limbo” is intriguing. Not sure how FindAGrave would implement that, since they can’t seem to detect duplicate memorials without someone telling them. (Thinking about how they would keep the one in limbo from being published if the family creates one in the meantime.)

  35. Your assumption that it feels like a slap to a family member who is also a findagrave.com member isn’t the case for everyone. When my brother died, I was so pleased that another member cared enough to create a memorial for him at a time when I couldn’t. Same with my grandparents and my father. They were all easily and happily transferred to me. And if they weren’t a quick email to findagrave would have solved the issue.

    Regarding numbers displayed, the profile indicates both the number of memorials created and the number managed. Transferring memorials does not diminish the recognition factor. More so than the number of memorials, I like knowing that I’ve contributed over 50,000 photos to the site. That makes me feel good, but it also makes me feel unappreciated when I’m referred to as a “numbers person” for having so many.

    Regardless of my personal feelings, I can’t imagine that a site built around creating memorials would intentionally put up road blocks for people wishing to create said memorials.

    • People with that many photos are in a class by themselves! That is so much work!!! Kudos to you for that!

      Not sure if you read the post before or after I made my edit. I know that not everyone with a large number of memorials is in it for the numbers. Some people are just dedicated and prolific (and/or have been doing this for many years). Hats off to them for their many contributions! But you cannot deny that there are people who are driven by the stats. And that’s where the problem is — they are so driven by the number that they don’t stop to think about how posting a memorial for someone who has been dead less than 24 hours could be viewed by the family. What is the rush? Why not allow the family to have that opportunity? If the family doesn’t do it, the memorial can still be created later.

      • Sure, I agree with your statement that there are a small number of people driven solely by how many memorials they can create, but a small number of people isn’t representative of the the larger number of people contributing.

        Given that findagrave is intended to record and present final disposition information as a virtual cemetery, they are in it for the numbers too. The site wouldn’t exist or be nearly as popular without the work of many hands and I cannot imagine they will change their guidelines to accommodate a practice that some find disagreeable. Especially considering that enforcing a time limit or something similar would result in less memorials being created. The same would likely occur with hiding each individual’s stats. On the contrary, they intentionally highlight high volume contributors and have indicated that creating a memorial immediately is OK, and that those doing so should respectfully transfer within guidelines when asked.

        For some people, the rush is certainly to add the memorial in case someone else doesn’t. It is about the numbers–for both the contributor doing so and for findagrave. It’s clear we disagree, but I appreciate the discourse.

        • Hear, Hear!

          I always laugh when someone throws out “numbers” as an insult. As you said, Find A Grave is all about the numbers. And, it is impossible to add to memorials without your numbers increasing. It is oddly amusing that some believe they know the motive of others is “numbers”. Perhaps, just perhaps, their motive is to fulfill the site’s mission whether the death be recent or long ago.

    • I completely agree with you Jenn. When I found someone else had posted memorials of my grandparents a few days after they each respectively died, I felt touched that someone else had taken the time to be involved in the process of their memorialization. It felt like someone keeping me company and bearing witness to my grief. I didn’t even ask to take over the memorials, I just went ahead and added photos of the stones a few months later.

  36. Another irritating problem I see on findagrave is memorial for people who are still alive. This happened with my mother-in-law. I contacted the submitter for her memorial and that of her husband to have his transferred to me and hers deleted. His bio page was so offensive that I assumed that I would get no reply, and in fact, did not. I contacted Find a Grave and got his transferred and hers deleted which they did very quickly. The rules state that you cannot post a memorial for living persons. These problems, among others, is why I do not trust Find a Grave any longer unless there is a photo of the stone included.

  37. I completely agree. The same thing happens to me when my husband died. Imagine my surprise when his Memorial was posted in Find a Grave a week before he was buried.

    I would take it a step further, though. There is so much information available on Find-A-Grave, yet much of what is found on many of the Memorials is unsourced. A picture of a tombstone with a name, birth year, and death year is shown, yet the person’s full date of birth, full date of death, parents, siblings, spouse and/or children’s information though connected, do not reference a visible obituary or other document(s) to validate the various pieces of information. It personally feels like Find-a-Grave is out of control, and fast becoming worse than unsourced trees on Ancestry.

  38. I think it is time Ancestry reconsidered and published the strategic purpose for Find a Grave. If it is loads of memorials then the number will not be removed. If it is valuable and quality genealogical data then the numbers are not required. One quality entry with photos would be more valuable than 100’s of low quality entries. They should also consider the ethical side and perhaps force a 30 day waiting period and make it easier to have data with living people removed.

  39. This post and all the comments really has me thinking. Recently I started a blog about a cemetery that is close to where I live. I have two reasons for having this blog.

    First, I want to get into the habit of writing every day, and I thought this would be a good project for me. A chance to get away from my family trees and exercise my research muscle on something new each week. I plan to research each person buried there – with sources 😉 and post pictures of the headstones…and the cemetery in general.

    Second, I drive and walk by this cemetery every day. It is a small, old cemetery, but it is an “active” cemetery…sometimes I see a family at graveside service. My main purpose is to get to know my “neighbors.” Each headstone is a person. They lived in my town. They had mothers, fathers, children, brothers, sisters…people who loved them. I cannot forget that.

    Not sure if anyone will ever read my posts…but I will keep all these comments in mind. I will do everything I can to respect the wishes of families.

    I am not planning on changing any of the cemetery’s information on Findagrave. I consider my blog another resource (and I use that term loosely) for genealogists. A place to see the information I have found and use it as a starting place.

    Great post Amy…and thoughtful comments…it is clear this is an important issue.

  40. I was told of an old Cemetery and was given some basic information about it. Unfortunately, I misspelled the name. I do not know how to correct it and asked find a grave twice and heard nothing. Any thoughts.

    I am also working on a Cemetery that has many names posted in FAG with dates as unknown. They were posted initially from old Church records. In many cases there are no tombstones and what is in FAG is just a listing of names and more often than not, no relationship to any other person.

    This cemetery has one main contributor, and I have corrected and buried them in corrections. But getting it right is important.

    • Cemetery corrections are done through the Forums. There is a separate thread just for that purpose. I have done many and, although sometimes it takes a little time, they always get done if they are correct.

  41. I think that Find-A-Grave is one of the greatest things to come along for the genealogist. Back about 1997 I started recording the tombstone data in the Rutherford Co., NC area and started a webpage with the info online. I just kept working and the website was also growing. Pretty soon other websites started coming on line and many of them was using records from my website. At first I was a little peeved and as time passed I came to realize that the more places the information could be found the more useful it would be for the people that needed it. There is nothing more gratifying than getting and e-mail from a wheelchair bound lady three thousand miles away that says, if it wasn’t for your work I would never have known where my grandfather was buried. We have those that seems want have bigger numbers than others and who wants to add more information either valid or not but as genealogists we should use all info as clues for research and be thankful that much of it is helpful. Now if Ancestry.com will leave FAG free as it should be. Don’t hold your breath!

    • I still believe in the value of FindAGrave. It has helped me find so much information. (And I, too, love the emails when I fulfill a photo request.)

    • Bill, I started making websites in much the same way. I had taken thousands of photos in several states so started putting them on webpages so I could share them with others. That was 16-17 or so years ago, I still do this.
      i also believe that the more places you share those photos the more likely it is that someone that needs to see it will find it, so I contribute to several different sites as time permits along with my own webpages. I also post photos sent to me from others. (giving them credit for the information of course)
      I can understand why someone would get upset because of a memorial being made for a recently passed loved one.
      If FAG imposed a 30 day wait all a person has to do is open a word document, copy the obit there, save it, and in 30 days if no memorial then copy and paste it to FAG.
      Also, if a person finds one and feels upset that he/she did not get to post the memorial first, they can get the memorial transferred to them. then they can delete it (preferably one without any information on it though, if it has information on it they may want to have FAG merge it) Not a perfect solution but I have seen it happen.
      Bill, like you I hope FAG will remain free but I am not holding my breath.

  42. I agree wholeheartedly with your post and suggestions. I love Find-A-Grave and all the things I’ve found at the site. I did set up a memorial for my father-in-law the day he died because I didn’t know if someone in the area might do it when seeing his obituary.

    My number that I’m trying to increase (at 604 now) is photo requests fulfilled. As others have noted, receiving that message from someone 3,000 miles away thanking me for a photo is very rewarding. And when I receive that “Success: A photo request has been fulfilled!” message, I’m inspired to get out and fulfill more photo requests in my area.

  43. I agree with your suggestions, Amy… when my husbandʻs nephew, who we have known since birth, passed away suddenly last winter I didnʻt even think of posting a page for him until right after the funeral. Someone else who doesnʻt know our family had already posted it… I requested a transfer and explained the relationship… they did transfer right away but asked that I be sure to add correct information… hello! I said we have known him since birth! This was the son of my husbandʻs older brother! So when another of my husbandʻs brothers passed suddenly a few months later you can be sure that I immediately posted a memorial page for him… sad that in oneʻs time of grief you have to worry about a stranger posting your family memberʻs page… for some this is probably the last thing they can do for a beloved family member… The vast majority of my postings are for family members tho I have done some for veteranʻs in my local cemetery that are months or years old and havenʻt been posted… and yes, I do believe in the value of find a grave… someone in Finland found my 4X great grandparents grave in Stockholm, Sweden which put me in touch with the cemetery and now I have a photo…

  44. This is exactly what happened to me. The guy who did it to me happened to be a person I went to high school with and he “stalks” the local funeral home website. He then puts up a FAG memorial. I wrote to him. He definitely got the idea how peeved I was especially when I told him I would have appreciated the opportunity to post a memorial for my mother myself. He turned the management of the memorial over to me. I completely deleted it and started over. I also wrote to the FAG administrators telling them what he was doing. I then wrote my mother’s memorial the way I wanted it to be. As a side note from that experience, I had another FAG contributor “suggesting” what he thought my mother’s memorial should have on it. Basically he thought I should post her entire obituary, etc. I very politely but firmly explained to him that I had created her memorial and it was exactly how I wanted it to be.

    Don’t mistake me – I love FAG. It has wonderful resources worldwide. I have also met new cousins through writing to other contributors.

  45. Amy, thank you so much for speaking out about this. My husband and I used to watch F-A-G daily to get requests and go take photos in our local cemetery. It brought us a great deal of joy to do this and the people requesting were so grateful.

    Then my own mother passed away unexpectedly. Heartbroken and grieving, I created a beautiful memorial for her. I linked her parents and my deceased brother.

    Much to my dismay about 6 months later, I found a very tacky memorial of my mother with a slightly different name spelling. The person who made the memorial didn’t know the correct hyphenated name. I was appalled that this person would type in my mother’s complete obituary (but with mistakes and typos), which took me 3 months to write! I blasted off an email to her saying that I already had a memorial for my mom and “how dare she” etc.

    She apologized and took it down. I ended up apologizing as well. It was really a painful experience!

    The final straw with F-A-G came when I found the memorial for my grandmother had the WRONG parents. The woman cited a census where there was an Ida May Isaacs, but it was the wrong one. I tried everything to show her the correct information to no avail.

    I finally created my own memorial with the correct information and linked the correct parents and children etc. I wrote to F-A-G and after several months they accepted my proof. I was feeling really good!

    Then about 6 months later, I found that my memorial had been taken down and everything was back to the incorrect person’s information. I couldn’t believe it.

    If this person was able to keep absolutely inaccurate information on the site, then how many hundreds or thousands more must also be inaccurate.

    My husband and I have never gone back to take another photo. We’ve never put up any more memorials. We’re done. All the things that others have said about people who won’t transfer, people who have nasty “I am in Power” bios, etc. are also what I’ve experienced.

    Too bad they don’t have the WikiTree philosophy – to want to be the kindest website on the internet. https://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Courtesy

    Thank you again for opening up this issue for dialogue!

    • This is a great example of breaking Find A Grave’s rules to get your own way and it backfiring. The memorial you created for your grandmother was a deliberate duplicate so it was taken down. When you created the duplicate, you were basically saying “I’m above the rules.”

    • Sue, have you ever had to reset your computer to a time before you started having problems with it? Maybe Find A Grave had to do the same thing. I would contact them again about it and ask why they took down your memorial and put the one with the wrong information on it back up.

  46. Thank you for this. I agree wholeheartedly. I also had a similar situation when my mother passed. A contributor took her obituary (she scanned the local funeral homes and newspapers everyday) and within 36 hours of mom’s death, voila! There mom was on Find a Grave. I too am a long-term contributor and it took a bit of work to get the contributor to turn the entry over to me to manage. I politely asked this person twice via private email to either fix some issues with the memorial (I informed her I was the daughter) or if she was willing, please let me manage it. I heard crickets for weeks until I got in touch with a Find a Grave admin and waited to have it turned over to me.

    When that happened, this lady posted on her profile how “mean and rude and nasty people could be about the hard work she’s done.”

    Whatever. I do a LOT of research before posting one Find a Grave entry, and always with a photo. So I know the work behind it. I don’t believe I was rude by asking that she fix some typos (she really managled the surnames in the obit) or ask if she were willing to let me, as the daughter, to manage the memorial. She had something like 10K memorials–so what was the big deal about letting some work go on her end to someone who really knew the woman who died? I didn’t understand it.

    But I think all of your insights here are wonderful given my experience. It just seems off to me that someone would want to do this for the numbers. And I maintain that there IS a numbers game going on there. People were (I don’t know if they still do this) rewarded for having high numbers by having their profiles highlighted on the site.

  47. OMG! I so agree with this!! When my mother passed away before I could create her memorial someone had already done it. I had to request they transfer it to me. I for one do not post other people, only my family members. Recently a cousin passed away, I created her memorial. When I went to add her picture after the funeral someone else in a different city created another one for her. I had to ask them to take theirs down. I think what some people are doing to keep their numbers up is appalling and something should be done about it.

  48. I, too, am also concerned about the mass entering of memorials. My mother passed away in January of 2014. She requested to be cremated and I waited a few months before I buried her cremains beside my father in her home town. I added her memorial in the summer of 2014. When I was working on my mother”s genealogy page, I found the link to her memorial on Find A Grave. I clicked, and surprise, a memorial had been made for her in the cemetery associated with the funeral home who had done mom’s funeral. The person who had added the memorial was listed as anonymous and did not take emails. Anyway, I contacted FAG and they deleted that memorial.

    No cemetery was mentioned in mom’s obituary and the contributor just assumed she was buried at the funeral home’s cemetery. Unless the cemetery is stated, do not assume. It is important to strive for accuracy.

    I tend to add memorials after I visit a cemetery. If I have a picture of a tombstone and it is not in the Find A Grave data base, I add the tombstone information and the picture. I do not mind transferring the memorial……at all.

  49. I have been posting obits to FAG for over 3 years and have had only 3 requests for a transfer! To begin with only 10% of the obits in our local paper list a cemetery. I started doing the local Veterans and expanded to other obits. A lot of people don’t do FAG or Genealogy or just don’t care. Does that mean that these people need to be forgotten? Wouldn’t it be wonderful if the people from the 1800’s and 1900’s could have posted to FAG, think of the wonderful information we would have access to.

  50. I have added people from obits if only to make sure that they don’t get left off in case no one makes a memorial. I’m happy to transfer if somebody asks. I’m not a high number contributor so it’s not a numbers game with me. I’m not trying to be insensitive to anybody’s family , I just want to make sure that local people get their memorial so that future generations can find them . I do however see your point and understand where you are coming from. I’ve run into two of these non-cooperative contributors ., One, who is no relation, had several of my relatives in about 3 different cemeteries in the same area. He ignored every edit and every note or email I sent but but he was still adding more memorials so I know he was still active on FAG. I finally wrote FAG and they transferred a lot to me so I could make the edits and links to them. He was a not a high numbers guy either so I dont’ know what his problem was. The other is a lady who had several of my family members on two sides of my family. I’ve asked her if she is a relative and several questions to see if we could help each other in research but she does not respond. She will respond to edits if I continually send her reminders but other than that – very uncooperative. I try to be very easy to work with and flexible and most people I encounter are great !!

    • I find it disturbing that memorial managers are allowed to have no way to email them or public message them, and that they can ignore edit requests without even a response.

      There are some decidedly alienating contributor bios on FAG, and some people managing thousands of memorials have resentful chips on their shoulders, blaming other members and/or making it clear they have control isues. I always wonder why those who feel put upon have so many memorials then!

      The thing about the four generations and direct descendents rule is that FAG does not call them rules, but rather, guidelines.. It is a rule transfers must be made to direct descendents within four generations, but it isn’t a rule that transfers can’t be made to anyone who makes a request.

      I also think it is disrespectful of FAG Admin to roll back transfers without first contacting the contributor it had been transferred to for imformation to ensure they aren’t make ng a mistakr and/or to warn the person and give,their reason.

      • While F.A.G. calls them “guidelines”, they consider them RULES. Feel free to go ask an admin in their Forums if the guidelines are optional.
        The required transfers are just that – the memorial manager must transfer the stated relationships (up to great grandparents and down to great grandchildren) or the admins will make the transfer upon request. All other transfer requests (commonly called “out of guidelines”) are left to the memorial manager. They can retain the memorial if they want OR they can transfer. Whatever the manager decides is okay. The “problem” are those who do not accept that simple fact.

        If a memorial is returned to the previous manager, Find A Grave determined that the original transfer was in error. I have only seen this happen a few times, mostly in cases where the new manager was misusing the site or the memorials.

  51. The issue I have with FAG is that when a contributor passes away there is no way to have a memorial that he owns to be transferred to a relative or descendant or to have erroneous information corrected.

    • If the errors are in the name, dates, or locations, then you can submit edits through the system and they will be automatically accepted after a period of time. The same goes for adding new family links. If the errors are in the bio or family links, then you can contact FindAGrave and ask them for a transfer or correction if there’s no response for the manager.

  52. Pingback: This week’s crème de la crème — October 22, 2016 | Genealogy à la carte

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  54. I have the utmost respect for those who list an obituary along with photo of deceased and feel that the majority of FAG folks are kind and very helpful.
    My distance to cemeteries of my family are a couple of thousand miles apart and it is hear warming to find those dedicated FAG volunteers.
    Sure there is ‘a small minority of FindAGrave users’ and perhaps a waiting period would be kinder to the family, however, I was able to see a photo and then contact the family of a dear childhood friend because I found the FAG posting so I was very glad to be able to send a Sympathy to the family with a story of their loved one that only I had.
    Not one person has ever denied me the ownership of my family that I honor and share with others. Very few have not been able to take a picture and their commitment is to be congratulated and respected.
    This article is trying to make a mountain out of a good deeds.
    Try a little kindness and do work on more serious problems in genealogy. I have some ideas for you.
    t.g.- Calif.

  55. I post photos of my family to find a grave. I don’t post memorials. Recently I have posted photos filling a volunteer request. I don’t do it for the numbers. I do it as an act of Genealogical Kindness. Some families may have been unable to attend the funeral, or in grief may not have thought to bring a camera at the time.
    I found that after posting my aunt’s grave marker, someone else, not related, posted a memorial with inaccurate information. And inevitably this taints citations sources down the line, when someone comes back to verify the information.

  56. any thanks and one big caveat. Four generations can be too soon. I have spent a couple of decades and thousands of dollars researching my forgotten pioneer family. An early Findagrave volunteer found my lost 6xgrandmother and took pictures in a dangerous suburb of Boston for which I shall be forever grateful.

    However, the local cemetery in New Brunswick canada where most of my people are buried including my beloved grandmother, had a zealous fool take over all the names and worse, made a lot of transcription errors. So now I cant even correct the information. I don t know what the rule should be, but somehow they should discourage the people chasing numbers. these are people s families.

      • He or she did a whole graveyard full of people. Most of whom I am related to; we re talking as many as 10 generations. Presumably just wandered through manually scribbling down stone info, some of which is illegible and others of which is just badly transcribed.

        No photographs of stones, just the entry to the graveyard. I somehow doubt the person will take kindly to correction or be persuaded to cede ownership. Plus I can no longer get back there easily to photograph accurately. It s a mess.

        At some point I ll make sure my tree information is as correct as possible and made public, that s all I can do.

        • Find A Grave provides a process to get corrections made. First, as Amy indicated, submit the accurate information on the Edit tab of the memorial. If the correct is for one of the data fields, the memorial manager has 21 days to Accept or Decline. If neither is done in that time frame, the system will auto-accept the change. If the manager Declines the edit, you will receive an email informing you of that. Then you send the info a second time thru the Edit tab, this time choosing the 6th item (“Suggest any other correction”) AND include your sources. Remember to mark the box to send yourself a copy of the email. The manager has 30 days to act upon this request. If the correction is not made, you can forward your copy of the email to Find A Grave to have the change made.
          Those who care about having correct info will follow the process. Some are not willing to use this process, I suppose because it doesn’t provide instant gratification.

          • Also, it isn’t obvious that a person can make requests and that there is a way to follow up if that information is not accepted.

          • How is a person to know they can resubmit a correction if it has been turned down? (Serious question, as I haven’t had one that was flat-out refused.) Is there anything in the email saying that they can resubmit it and use that “other” option?

          • Amy, when you don’t know something about a site (any site), what do you do (or should do)?

          • I look on the FAQ or Help page. As far as I can see, there is nothing in there about what to do if a request for a correction is turned down. (Only what to do if there isn’t a response.) If it is there somewhere, please point it out to me so I can point people to that in the future if they have the same question. Thanks.

          • It is the last paragraph under the “How do I correct an error in memorial data” question.

            If you can’t find something in the FAQ, use your browser’s “Find” feature to search the basic word (i.e. decline) rather than a phrase.

          • Thank you for that reference. I will be sure to pass that along to those who have found themselves in that position.

          • I have been an active FindaGrave user for over seven years and this is the first I have heard of the procedure to use when an Edit request is declined. Is this a recent addition to the FAQs? FindaGrave doesn’t notify contributors when they make these changes so, if you don’t re-read the FAQs frequently you will miss changes.

    • I have been on find a grave for 12+ years, what some people do not remember or possibly do not realize…is that this site did not start with photos and individual memorials. Many of the memorials were originally entered by uploading a spreadsheet that was transcribed from the headstones or from cemetery records. Then over time people added or requested photos of the headstones.

      Is it possible that this cemetery was transcribed not from the headstones but from the cemetery records themselves, this could very well be why there are transcription errors, especially on older graves. Handwriting on older records could include mis-spellings and/or hard to read writing.

      I 100% agree with the #s should go away, there is no reason for these numbers anymore.

      I’m torn on the 30 day waiting period, as long as the person is willing to transfer the memorial to close living relatives upon request. I do not agree with deleting a transferred memorial just to be able to say that you created it, that is the same mentality as the #s game I fail to see the difference…both are “bragging rights”. By all means update the memorial with the correct data, etc, but there is no reason to delete the memorial just to have your name on the created by line.

      • I agree. I enter the FAG # in my software so that I can easily check back to see if there have been additions or corrections to the memorial or to direct another genealogist to the site. When a transferee deletes the original site and creates a new site all of my references in the software are no longer valid. And any information I give to that other genealogist is invalid and they may not be able to locate the memorial. I know I am not the only person who includes the FAG # in my database. So before you delete and reenter just for your personal gratification, please consider that you may be doing a disservice to many others.

  57. I am a photo volunteer for FindAGrave and was aware of a vulture who adds memorials from my small local cemetery as soon as as an obituary is published. He always adds the complete online obit including the photo, and his numbers are in the tens of thousands. Sad to say but when my uncle recently died I knew what was coming and managed to get ahead of him with the memorial. It did and didn’t surprise me that a few hours later he added the obituary photo. He doesn’t have an email address listed and he has his comments section blocked so I couldn’t ask him to take it down. I contacted FindAGrave to request they remove the photo that he did not own nor have permission to post, and to their credit they did. What I don’t know is if they put him out of business.

    • I would like to add that I am not opposed at all to volunteers who add recent burials for non-family members. But having been through “the race to post” myself, the suggestions Amy made are reasonable and would be of comfort to families that want to create their own memorials.

      My larger concern is with those who post in clear violation of copyright laws when it comes to published obituaries and particularly with photos. Either they have never read FindAGrave’s policies in the FAQ or they choose to ignore them.

    • I have found they are reasonable in responding to requests to remove photos. We have a local woman who refused an in guidelines transfer once, and then replace her photos with watermarked ones where she put her own name over that of the spouse. When I emailed FindAGrave, they very quickly transferred the direct family line memorials to me and removed her pictures on them. The bad news is that she still has the collateral line memorials. Soon after the forced transfer, she redid the watermarks on those photos, too. Again, she put her name right over the spouse’s. It floored me to see that since she can see we don’t need her photos. We’ve been to the cemetery, cleaned the stones, and (to be blunt) taken better pictures than she does. I don’t know why she’s so obsessed with the numbers.

  58. I don’t get it…..I try and photograph all headstones listed on a FAG cemetery if I am there looking for a requested one. I do,occasionally, make a memorial….not happily as I don’t have the time to transpose all the info. But I feel so sorry that these stones,usually barely legible,might never be entered. (my local cemetery is fairly large but so few are on the FAG site) So many headstones,so little time. So I really can’t imagine taking on all that work just to #1 and making it a competition.

    • I’m not referring to those awesome people who walk cemeteries, taking photos, and creating memorials. (I wish more people would do that!) I’m talking about the people who watch their local funeral home’s website and make memorial pages before the person is even buried.

        • I’m referring to memorials created before the person is even buried. Why can’t the family have a chance at creating the memorial? In the middle of grief, most people — even most genealogists — don’t think immediately of posting on FindAGrave.

          Yes, let’s remember the deceased. But what is the harm in waiting 30 days if you aren’t related to the deceased?

          • The site is about recording the final disposition information of the deceased, regardless of who created the memorial, who maintains it, or when it was created.

            A better question is “Can I change my attitude and accept the site for what it is instead of what I want it to be?” You were a member for 7.5 years and worked at Ancestry, it seems you should have been aware of how things are on the site and could have thought about how you would react if or when one of your relatives passed. It is good to look at our attitude objectively when we are not in an emotional state (like grieving) so that we are prepared for circumstances we may face when we are emotional. If we take the time to look at our attitudes, it may be possible to see the creation of a memorial as a compliment instead of a slap.

            No, I don’t think you will change your attitude because these complaints almost always boil down to the wishes of “me, myself and I”:
            **I didn’t get to create the memorial for My relative.
            **Creating the memorial is part of My grieving process.
            **I want Find A Grave to change to suit My wishes even though I am only one of tens of thousands of users.

          • It’s precisely because of my involvement in FindAGrave for 7.5 years and my work at Ancestry that prompted me to make his memorial before the obituary appeared in the paper, so I was aware of how things are on the site.

            As for thinking about “how [I] would react if of when one of [my] relatives passed”… I’m not sure anything really prepares you for how you might think, feel, or react when a family member dies unexpectedly.

            To your point about taking time to see the creation of a memorial as a compliment instead of a slap, that is exactly the reason why I waited to write this post. I thought that maybe time would change my perception of this. It has not. (Nor has it changed the perception of the other people who felt this way and have commented on this post.)

            Yes, FindAGrave is a memorial site. It was originally created to mark the burial locations of famous people, so the fact that we’re even having this discussion is a sign that the original purpose of the site has changed. If the purpose can change, why is it out of the question that some of the implementation of the site change?

            To your bullet points — I think those could also be rephrased for your point of view.
            **Creating the memorial is not part of my grieving process
            **I want FindAGrave to stay exactly as it is, even though there are people who feel pain because of one way that the site is implemented

            Yes, FindAGrave is a site to record burials. However, there is nothing that is saying that the memorial must be created within X number of days of death. Why not wait?

          • You never gave a single thought to the obit appearing on the funeral home site before it hit the paper?

            I agree that nothing will *fully* prepare you for an unexpected death because of the shock factor. Yeah, I’ve been there. And it was because of that experience and my unreasonable reactions to something said or done (none of which was with ill will), I decided to think about these things when I was not grieving. It’s like having a fire escape plan – we know we won’t be thinking rationally in the event of a fire, so we make a plan ahead of time. The plan helps but is not a guarantee.

            You can’t see the creation of your father-in-law’s memorial as a compliment because it has only been 7 months since his death. There’s a reason grief counselors advise not making any big changes within the first year. And some things will always hurt, even 20 years down the road, because thinking about that thing will bring back the emotion you felt at the time. That’s just how grief works.

            You’re absolutely right that creating a memorial is not part of my grieving process. That’s not Find A Grave’s purpose in any way shape or form. If that’s what you want, there are many other memorial sites on the internet that allow you to do anything you want, without the constraints of Find A Grave’s rules. A tiny minority of Find A Grave users have commented here. Your point is still the site should change for the needs/desires of that tiny minority.

            Why not wait? The obit will not be available indefinitely. Those without traditional graves may be missed.

            You’re dead wrong that I want Find A Grave to stay exactly as it is. I’d love to see changes that would improve the site. Discouraging people from creating memorials is not an improvement nor in the best interest of the site.

          • I agree with Sally M’s comments.

            And, thinking for one moment that having a waiting period is a workable solution is completely insane. It would be completely unenforceable. What — are you going to submit a photo of yourself with your arm around the deceased, your DNA, your fingerprints, and govt documents to prove that YOU are the special relative that is allowed to post the memorial? TOTALLY UNWORKABLE.

  59. Well said! The same thing happened to me when my sister-in-law and brother-in-law were killed in an auto accident on June 2, 2016. The SAME DAY they died (far before any obituary was ever published), a “numbers” guy in Arkansas picked up the accident report from the internet and made records. Because I am not a blood relative (she was my husband’s sister), he will not reassign the records to me. Instead, it took me 30 days to get him to change a fictiotious history he had created for my brother-in-law (he “researched” in on Ancestry and tied Jimmie to parents with the same names who were not the right people and I had to disprove his research to him). I am still steaming about this. I know that some people will never be recorded without strangers doing it, but this incident has changed how I feel about FindaGrave. Reform is in order, and I think a 30 day waiting period would do the trick. Something needs to be done, for sure.

  60. Would this mean that i can’t put up a memorial for my Dad? He was cremated, and there is no stone for him. I don’t know what disposition of his ashes were made. His then wife had possession and I lost touch with her.

    • You can create a memorial for your dad. When you create the memorial, there’s an option at the bottom of the first screen where you have to choose “Cemetery burial” or “Other.” Choose “Other.” Then on the next screen you can indicate that he was cremated. (I would suggest you do a search for your dad first to make sure there isn’t already a memorial for him. If there is one, request that it be transferred to you because you are his son.)

  61. Well said. I totally agree. My mother’s memorial was posted before we got home from her service. It included names of living chidren. While we were ok with those to be printed in the local newspaper, for various reasons we did not want them posted for the “world” to see, I felt violated and worse, when I asked to have the memorial transfered to me my request was refused! I then asked to have the names removed and was told “that horse is out of the barn.” I didn’t need additional stress at an already stressful time. It was very hurtful.

  62. I agree. Another thing about Find A Grave that irks me, are the pics of the gravestones. I’m glad they are there, but the person taking the photo needs to pay attention to the photo. Many have flowers in front of the engraved names and dates or shadows from trees or themselves. Others are taken at strange angles and can’t be read. If it takes 2 or 3 pics to show the marker, then snap them. Make sure they can all be read easily. Also, you may be able to read the inscription when at the grave site, but may not be able to read it in the photo. Please say what it says in a caption.

  63. I see that many of us have had the same experience. Thank you so much for your blog on this problem. My brother’s daughter wanted to be the administrator of her father’s Findagrave memorial. Guess what? It has been impossible to contact the person who posted the photo and information. I have seen that some administrators are very kind and post that their intent is to give the page over to a family member and that is a kind thing.

  64. I see the same issue at ancestry and rootsweb. This should be about accurate, quality information and not who has the most entries. Sometimes these competitive people enter a burial in the wrong cemetery and sometimes a burial that has not even occurred.

    • My experience is that someone created a memorial for my mother back in 2007. My fathers headstone is for both my mother and father. My mother is still living today. The gentleman that added the memorial did transfer ownership to me, but I have seen other instances of memorials based on gravemarkers that have been erected where the named are still living

  65. Good points about removing the numbers. I publish Interment.net, a cemetery records site that started the same time that FAG started. Many of FAG’s users have taken transcriptions off of my site, and USGenWeb sites, simply to pad their numbers. I remember talking to Jim Tipton about it years ago, and he acknowledged the problem, but used the old, “facts are not copyrightable” argument, which I agree, but overlooks the problem. – Steve Johnson

  66. I agree with you on a timeline for family. I would be okay with it being shorter, like just a week or two.

    A cousin died last year, and his memorial was put up before his widow even got home from the funeral home – which she went straight to from the hospital. It was not an expected death, so that made it more shocking. It just happened that the newspaper put the obits up online as soon as the funeral home sent them over. I sent a not terribly friendly request for a transfer, and the person deleted the memorial instead of transferring. Then someone else from the area put one up in less than an hour. At least this one would have a date created stamp of the day after he died since it was shortly after midnight. She did end up transferring it upon request, but got pissy when I removed the obit she posted. I removed it just because I knew the family well enough to know that they wouldn’t “get” FindAGrave and seeing their family information posted so soon. At least with just having the memorial I could explain that people post this stuff, and I went ahead and took control so I could turn it over to them if they wanted to get on there or just to make sure family controls what goes up. (Plus, the widow who hadn’t know our family as long got details wrong in the obit, and I wanted the bio to eventually be factual without hurting her feelings.) So, instead, the 2nd poster came and posted the obit as an anonymous “flower” the next morning.

    Honestly, I had a pretty laid back attitude with most of the less than ideal behavior by others until then. I could not believe how many total strangers were so ready to lay claim to the man’s memorial despite not knowing him or anything about his family. I waited until I felt the family would be okay with it and did eventually post the obituary information for reference, but also noted the “typos” with correct information for future researchers. But seeing that flower there still irks me since it wasn’t “placed” by anyone who cared enough to respect the feelings of those closest to him.

    I love that everyone can contribute, but some people could use a few lessons in being respectful and not trying to actively anger upset family members. Angry family members who don’t see the genealogical value don’t help the effort to document burial locations. Instead, they can get memorials permanently removed so that we lose vital information for researchers.

    • If you click on the image on a flower you will see a link to Report Abuse. I would report this through that link and FAG admin should remove it (and perhaps the contributor as well).

  67. Any,

    I had the same thing happen to me when my children’s father died. However, the transfer was made immediately when I put in a request for it.

    I disagree with you about the numbers showing though. I say let’s keep the motivation, no matter what it is. Walking the cemeteries and adding photos of complete stranger’s graves and/or adding memorials from the comfort of one’s own home takes a lot of time, effort, and even gas money. I like seeing the numbers. What I don’t like is the inability to see the memorials or photos that a person has added once that number goes above 10,000! Seems stupid to take that away from a large contributor or those who would like to peruse them.

    Barbara

    • But walking a cemetery and transcribing them is different than culling the obits and funeral home websites to get more names. Those people in the cemetery have already been buried. Most of them have been gone more than 30 days.

      There are some fabulous FindAGrave volunteers who have thousands of memorials to their credit and have done so by doing what you mentioned — visiting the cemeteries. Unfortunately, there are also those who have thousands of memorials who get their info solely from a funeral home website or obituary and created those memorials before the family even had a chance to.

      • I’d love to see statistics about memorials for recently deceased. Things like
        #1. daily number of memorials created for recently deceased.
        #2. number of those that family members complained were made “too soon”.
        I’m pretty sure #2 would be a tiny fraction of one percent of #1.

        • I totally agree with Sally M. In fact, I mention “Find A Grave” to people all of the time, and almost without exception they have never heard of it. So, those people are NOT going to be entering memorials for their recently deceased loved ones. The percentage of people who are upset about this are already members of FAG and if it is that important to them, they should get on FAG the moment their loved one dies and submit a memorial. They should already know that someone else is going to post the memorial if they don’t do it first.

  68. I know we’re not supposed to do it, but if push comes to shove and there’s bad info on a memorial that the owner/maintainer won’t correct, I add a flower. My flower message is usually “Rest in Peace”, but it can be “daughter of ZZX and VK!” or “name is really Yolanda, not Jolanda.”
    Most of the people I’ve contacted through FAG have been really nice. The one that wasn’t really upset me. We genealogists like to have things correct.
    As to memorials that don’t have photos of grave markers, we have several family members who were too poor to buy markers. I posted the cemetery burial record in lieu of grave marker along with a photo of the grassy area where their graves can be found.

  69. I am late to the plate learning that Find-A-Grave is not a real record of burials in a cemetery. I don’t understand the concept of posting Memorials before a person is buried, sprinkled, or scattered. I really do hope that Ancestry can reign in or at least tries to reign in the growing scope creep of posting duplicate, early, and unsourced entries. Just before discovering this blog post I came across a duplicate listing in Michigan. The gentleman’s first wife’s family had made a memorial with family tree info and the second wife’s family had displayed the actual double grave, grave stone. I thought duplicates were rare but did not want to upset either family with a correction request. I would prefer that Find a Grave be just that, a collection of documented grave sites. I am finding a few of my ancestors have documented burials without markers. Documented with paperwork in the cemetery records. I can see using a Virtual Memorial entry to publish those. I think Virtual Memorials that are not sourced should be quarantined to a separate menu or flagged as such. I would not consider an obit or Facebook thread as documentation. The race to post really makes no sense to me. You can’t “Find-A-Grave” if a person has not been buried or cremated yet. Find-A-Grave will lose out to Billion Graves as a reference tool if the virtual memorials and unsourced Bios continue to spam the site.

      • I think the poster is referred to unsourced or undocumented memorials. There is a systematic habit on FAG for persons to enter memorials that are duplicates or sometimes will create a fictitious one (I call them “plops” so they have a placeholder to put another one. That way, if they find a memorial for someone they are interested in and someone doesn’t want to relinquish that memorial for management–they can literally cut and paste new information into an existing memorial. I’ve found a few of those myself–what folks do basically is create memorials and wait. They can then claim their memorial was created “first” and the other memorial is a dupe if anyone calls them on it.

        Many games played on Find a Grave.

        • In Find A Grave lingo, a “plop” is a memorial placed in the wrong cemetery, usually as a means to avoid creating a Burial Unknown. They are a problem. As are the placeholders where someone changes the info so it appears their memorial was first. Luckily, Find A Grave administration can see every change made to a memorial so when you suspect a memorial has been changed to a different person, you can ask admins to take a look at the history of the suspect memorial. Then the altered memorial is merged into the true original. Another case of breaking the rules backfiring.
          Again, these issues are part of the “Me, Myself and I” mindset that justifies doing whatever it takes to get what the member wants rather than what the site wants.

  70. I had the same experience when my father passed away earlier this year. I waited to create a Find A Grave memorial for him until we held the funeral and disposition ceremony at a national cemetery. Meanwhile, a complete stranger created a memorial for him. Fortunately, she took it down when I contacted her and told her that I would create a memorial when he was actually in the cemetery.

    I concur with your suggestions, particularly to stop displaying the numbers of memorials created. FAG should not be a competition.

  71. No longer displaying a number of memorials is so important to stopping the practice of listing memorials in families other than your own. Someone posted that the family ‘should’ be glad someone thought it so important to post a memorial to their family member immediately after death. WRONG! Don’t tell me how I SHOULD feel. And it’s not important if the memorial you are posting is your first or your 500th. If you’re running directly from the newspaper obits to Findagrave to post someone you don’t even know, then you need to get another hobby and give peace to the grieving family!

  72. Thank you for the info, I personally don’t do that.. people need to have respect for the family. I did volunteer to go take pics at the local cemeteries, unfortunately I can’t seem to find the time to do it :'( I barely have enough time in a day to do my own/or the family tree research.. I do applaud those that can & do it though… Thank you…

  73. My problem with Find-A-Grave started when Ancestry bought them. I no longer get notified when someone requests a photo from a cemetery in my area. Another is the members of Ancestry who have stolen [yes, stolen] family pictures of my family and put them on their Ancestry trees. And Ancestry just uses the F.A.G. posts to mine the information and put it on Ancestry.

    • Unless you took the photos (and therefore own the copyright), you don’t own them, therefore they can’t be stolen from you. Many people are uninformed about this. On the other hand, if you did actually take the photo with a camera (and therefore own the copyright), you can request that Ancestry enforce a copyright claim on anyone who copies the photos and posts it on their public tree. Why you would want to do that, though, is a whole other topic. I hope this helps! 🙂

      • Ancestry changed Find A Grave’s photo use policy earlier this year and photos that are posted on Find A Grave can be copied to any Ancestry-owned website so As such, Ancestry will no longer remove photos copied from Find A Grave to Ancestry trees.

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  75. I agree with this but should also state one more fact of the people in the numbers game.they do them so fast they do not proof read and put up many mistakes and errors. had one for a family member that they put under the wrong cemetery and took weeks for them to correct it

  76. Cousin Amy,

    This is such a splendid example of best-practices for blogs; examples and recommendations. With so many thoughtful replies, too.

    In my book this is one of the best of the year 2016.

  77. I think that this is “complicated.”

    By allowing “instant” memorials and by allowing “competition” via numbers of memorials shown, we, the users of FindAGrave, have super quick access to the very information we are looking for.

    I am for most anything that will propel the fast growth of this invaluable genealogical service.

  78. Excellent Amy. You have raised very valid points and we all, as a community, must let them know how we feel. I recently had the opposite ‘problem’ (I know, right?). When I first started I took a few seconds to search for the cemetery and did find someone who had already started it. I contacted the person, who lives in a different part of the country, and have been uploading to her account and may be meeting her as she travels through the area this month!! I’ve not only saved duplicity I am ‘meeting’ some wonderful people and am putting families in touch. Nice bonus! I’ve just had someone upload to mine and I don’t want it! It’s from that cemetery and I just can’t see having memorials/pictures scattered all over the site. I will be sending her a heartfelt thank you with an explanation. As long as someone else has started and is still active I will upload to that one. We just don’t need always have to ‘be the first’, ‘know what happened’, ‘have more than the other guy’ and have ‘mine, mine, mine’. It’s all so childish.

  79. I know prior Find A Grave contributors who have switched to Billion Graves for various reasons and never looked back. I have never been able to figure out Billion Graves myself but some people really like it.

  80. I have made it a personal rule to wait until the deceased person is buried before I will create a memorial. I have found though, that there are the obit hounds that have nothing more to do than create the memorials from the obits. I usually do it for family, friends, and co-workers. I also had the opportunity to help a co-worker see his wife’s memorial online just a few weeks before he passed away.

    I do think that there should be at least a chance for the person to be buried first, as a rule.

  81. Making a memorial for my father on Find-A-Grave never crossed my mind, even though I was very familiar with the website. So I was exceptionally grateful to find his memorial on Find A Grave when I actually looked for his name, months later, just for the heck of it. It also never occurred to me to request control of his memorial.

    From a genealogy point of view it is most gratifying to find relatives Find A Grave memorials and photos of their grave markers. I know that if it was up to the direct descendants of the families that I am researching to set up a Find A Grave memorial it would never happen. What a loss that would be, for me and anyone else who is into genealogy.

    Therefore, I am eternally grateful for the people who have taken their precious time to walk cemeteries, take photos, transcribe the information and post Find A Grave memorials online. Maybe some contributors may be into “the one with the most graves wins” but that seems to be a pretty hard way to find gratification!

    What does amaze me are the people who post genealogies on Find A Grave, with no information regarding the cemetery or photo of the grave marker. It appears that they never even went near the cemetery where their ancestor is buried.

    • That (post genealogies on Find A Grave, with no information regarding the cemetery) is a far bigger problem for the site than memorials created for the recently deceased.

  82. Another change I would like to see with FAG is the cemetery location information especially for those in rural jurisdictions. Case in point, the local rural church I belong to and am involved with church records has a cemetery located in xxxx township of xxx county. Yet the FAG location info for the cemetery treats in like a post office address of the closest local village or city. When entering data in my genealogy tree I want the proper physical location, not a post office address when in involves rural cemeteries.

      • Within the last 10 years, nearly all rural areas were brought up to date with 911 addresses (house numbers and street names). This addressing system was coordinated between the local county offices, the 911 system and the postal service. It’s usually just a matter of calling the correct county office to get the “street address” for a rural location.

      • Thanks for your input, my issue is with recording location (not address data) in my genealogy software. I use both TMG and Legacy. Location should be city/township, county, state, country. There are separate fields for an address which is what I find in FAG. Again our cemetery is located in Lincoln Township, Eau Claire County, Wisconsin (FAG has E11620 County Rd JJ, Fall Creek, Eau Claire County, Wisconsin) Fall Creek is an incorporated village about 4 miles away, but I believe my genealogy should site the burial “location” as Lincoln Township.

        • I completely agree with recording the city/township, county, state, country in your genealogy software. Find A Grave uses the street address to enable people to navigate to the cemetery. Different purpose than your genealogy database.

  83. Here is another problem that I dealt with. My cousin died and while someone made a memorial, no one noted that he was a locally famous person. I submitted the famous grave form and after weeks received a polite message saying that as written, he did not qualify and suggesting I contact one of the “professional” famous grave writers to get him recognized. These are people who charge to write the essay which qualifies the person as famous. Instead I researched some other famous graves and rewrote the essay which was accepted. Before I wrote this I asked to have the memorial transferred and the person who managed it gladly passed it to me. Now the essay I wrote is posted on the memorial, it is managed by FAG and the essay is credited to the original manager of the memorial. She did not write a word. I don’t care that my name isn’t noted I just feel bad that this woman is being tagged with something she may not wish to be associated with. The whole thing turned me off.

    • I think you might be able to forward a copy of the email in which you submitted the bio to the Famous address to get the attribution corrected.

  84. I knew this may happen when my father recently passed away, so I created his before a “collector” did. I also left the FAG Volunteer Facebook page because so many people were nasty about this subject. There are two schools of thought: those who think you should give it a few days for family to create it and those who want the numbers and stalk the funeral home websites and obits. I was tired of the latter beting nasty to the ones of us who thought their actions were tacky. I believe there should be changes, but I’m not holding my breath. The original manager’s name will always be on there, even if they transfer it to you. FAG also has a rule that you cannot delete the original memorial, even if you are a family member.

  85. Not sure what the solution is, but there is a person who posts many memorials for persons who are buried in my general area. Problem is, he confuses the cemeteries. There are three “Saint Paul” cemeteries in my county on the same road, two of which are the same denomination. Two of the three are only a half mile apart The poster apparently picks one of the cemeteries at random for posting the memorial. I have contacted him on a few occasions when I found my relatives “buried” in the wrong cemetery. He has decided he knows the area better than I do (I attended the church connected with one of these cemeteries as a child and visit it every Memorial day) and has added a town name to one of the cemeteries. This has created another problem as that small town has another church of the same denomination, making it even more confusing. I have pretty much given up on trying to have corrections made.

  86. A good subject to discuss. Reading through the comments I wonder how many actually know what obligations they and the company have in providing materials, usage, how much use is granted to FAG, and the privacy statements. FAQ and user comments are OK, but they are not the policies. The Terms of Service and Privacy Statements found at the bottom of the page in all sites make interesting reading, and usually make you wonder why you are on any site! Noticed FAG had a new terms of service.
    Looking at the Privacy Statement it would appear anyone posting an obituary including a living person would have to go through some hoops; but I doubt if anyone does. However, someone could question having a post with your name on it unless you gave permission (I know little legal, so perhaps incorrect and not sure it means posting a story that contains a living person. As lawyers will probably say, it depends. My personal opinion is all of the privacy of genealogy needs to be discussed especially “living”, when they die, and so forth but that is another discussion).
    Section 1-iii “….If you post information about living persons, you must inform them and seek their consent. If the person is under the legal age to enter into agreements, you must ask for the consent of the parent or guardian of that person. ….”

  87. I feel as if I need to say a word in defense of the fast-posters. Several times I have found distant cousins through the kindness of someone who posted daily from obituaries. Usually I learn this by emailling the poster to ask whether he or she is a relative with more information. I found an important (to me) Sam Smith this way, probably 400 miles and two states from the last known town that I had for him. I couldn’t have found him otherwise, I think.

    So let’s not attribute ugly motives to fast-posters without knowing them. There are a lot of people who want to help their “community” and might be just a little too efficient without considering its effect.

  88. FAG records with family info is really great but is subject to the accuracy of the submitter. I hate it when the tombstones are not shown. They do show another person’s interpretation of the facts which were carved in stone, that I put a lot more trust in normally.

  89. My son died on September 7 and within a month his name and the obituary from the funeral home site was up on Find a Grave. As if losing a son at 43 due to an accidental fall weren’t enough, I was notified he was now on Find a Grave. As a family historian, part of me was glad this was taken care of, but it initially I WAS IN TOTAL SHOCK! In checking, I found it was placed by a researcher in the genealogical society of which I am president whom I respect. Mixed feelings here.

  90. I wish that there were a way to differentiate what information is really there on the tombstone or in cemetery records.
    The memorials can be very helpful but some are just reposting “here say” information.

  91. Excellent idea that of losing the numbers counter. DO IT, Findagrave! I have two Findagrave accounts: One for personal use (family, friends, and research interests) and another account for use when I canvass rural cemeteries in seasons under 80 degrees. I feared my family/friends would think my genealogy passion even more strange if they saw the number of graves I’ve photographed when canvassing, LOL! And just as I figured, the far FAR fewer number on my personal account has prompted cousins to gently tease this family’s only historian. If the numbers counter thingie was removed, Shy Gravers might be persuaded to use their real names on Findagrave profiles.

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  93. You have hit a hot topic here, from the number of replies I’ve just looked through — wow!

    Your piece really hit home for me too. As many others, I have become the family ‘historian’. I love what FAG provides for us researchers. It is another wonderful resource. I fully appreciate the volunteer efforts to create the memorials, but I cringe, however at those that have turned it into the numbers game you reference. Clearly it starts with a genealogists good intent, but for some, morphs into something else.

    When we lost my father-in-law inn 2013, a man who was so dear to all of us, I found that his memorial was created by someone before he was even buried! The number count on this member was huge…AND the person had blocked access to emailing them directly. She also had a comment that left one with no doubt that she would not entertain transfers for any reason (!). I left notifications, but no response from the person. It felt like a harsh invasion into our family’s grief process.

    I wrote to the FAG support team explaining my issue, and the lack of response from the creator of the memorial. I wanted the memorial deleted, as the loss was so recent, it felt too soon for us to want it out there. As family, we should have that right to a grieving process. It certainly is not holding up historical research!

    It took some time, but the FAG team finally agreed to take the memorial down.

    I am in complete agreement that there should be a ‘waiting period’ and family rights to owning a memorial if requested.

    Where’s the petition! 🙂 More than happy to sign it!! 😉

  94. I too am a long time FaG member but only use it for my genealogy and family history. I too have been burned twice by fast posters and Amy is right, it does feel like a slap in the face. HOWEVER…….

    I think that fast posters help grow FaG and that is a good thing for all of us. Don’t take away their numbers game, let them have at it. BUT……….

    Give families more control of relatives’ memorials. If a fast poster beat me to creating a memorial for my family member, and I want to make one of my own, his or her’s comes down. Sorry Charlie, that is the cost of playing your game.

  95. Hmmm, interesting that my posts on October 21st are gone since I didn’t agree with you at all. I guess you didn’t like my suggestion to begin your own site if you don’t like Find a Grave. I think it is a great site as is.

    • This is the first I’ve seen a comment from you on this topic here on the blog. I do have your comment on my Facebook page and the email you sent to me.

      To your point about starting my own site — no, that’s not in the cards for me. Like you, I do think that FindAGrave is a wonderful site. I also think it could be made even better.

  96. I LOVE your suggestions for making FindAGrave a better website. I hope they listen to you. The numbers game is ridiculous!

    So many people have copied down listings from published cemetery inventories, mistakes and all (!!!), without giving credit to those dedicated researchers that did the actual leg (and brain) work. These are researchers who’ve trekked to remote places to find long-lost cemeteries, battling the weather and biting insects along the way. I’ve seen some of them give up on sharing their research, having had the wind taken out of their sails by blatant plagiarism. These were actual genealogists, the sort who dug through land and probate records to locate family burial grounds, not the vicious-tempered name collectors seen on the FindAGrave forum. Some wonderful genealogy websites have been taken down as a result. We all lose when that happens.

  97. I think this article is so appropriate. I was volunteering to photograph grave markers on the request list for FindaGrave, but decided to stop when it became a battle as to who could claim the request first. I actually had claimed a couple and when I went to take the photos and checked in at the office was informed someone else had already been there. I wasn’t in it for the bragging rights, but I think some people definitely are. So I think your best idea is for the numbers to be eliminated and hopefully that would discourage some of these bad practices.

  98. I came by your blog post through Dick Eastman’s Newsletter. In case you are unaware, he posted a hyperlink in his newsletter directing us to your post and encouraged his readers to read it. Since I am interested in Find-A-Grave and have it on my list of topics (my topic will be how Find-A-Graved can be utilized for preserving the family history and to encourage my family to visit it) for a future post for my family history blog, I decided to take Dick up on his invitation to visit your site and read the post.

    I was taken back to learn of your situation; it made me think of my own. My father passed away last December. I knew eventually I would post his memorial and link him to his parents. I didn’t feel a need to rush. In the same year we lost my father, we also lost one of his sisters and one of his brothers. Again I didn’t feel a need to rush to post a memorial for my aunt or uncle. In fact, out of respect for my cousin and her brothers, I had planned to ask her if she would want to post not only a memorial for her dad, but for our aunt as well. You see, she at the request of her dad, took care of our aunt in her final year of her life. Her father did what he could but he was waging his own battle to continue to live.

    It was about the beginning of October when I had asked my mother if it was okay that I post a memorial for my dad on Find-A-Grave. I wanted to be sure it wasn’t too soon for her. I still hadn’t gotten around to it when I learned of your post. After reading it, I logged on to Find-A-Grave to see if someone had added my father’s memorial. No one had. But I certainly did that evening.

    As for my uncle, I noted that my cousin had found her own way to Find-A-Grave and posted her father’s memorial. I am happy she did. Although my mother and I are the family historians, I feel she, more than me, should be the one to manage her father’s memorial. The genealogist in me is just happy she took the time to link him to his parents.

    As for my aunt, I have some mixed emotions about that one. Her memorial was posted three days after her death. It is obvious it was posted by someone who knew my aunt; she posted a home photo of my aunt. However, she has made it clear in her Bio she does not have to transfer the memorial to anyone who is not a direct line descendant.

    It appears the person who posted my aunt’s memorial was someone who knew her. But I questioned her motive for doing so. You see, she has been a Find-A-Grave member for nearly twelve years and has added 95,757 memorials in that time period. Did she post my aunt’s memorial because she felt grief like my family and I or was my aunt just another number to her?

    So, Amy I think you are right for suggesting a waiting period. However, I think that waiting period is going to be different for each person. It took my cousin about forty-five days to post her father’s memorial while it has taken me nearly a year. Unless someone is related to the recently deceased, perhaps a waiting period of one, two or even five years would be better.

    And finally, although Find-A-Graves’ mission speaks of a virtual cemetery experience, its mission tends to emphasize the numbers. Perhaps the owners of Find-A-Grave should consider what exactly is involved in a cemetery experience. Every time I’ve been to a cemetery, whether to visit an ancestor or a recently departed loved one, I’ve experienced some type of emotion. Numbers leave us void of emotions.

    As a family historian, I will always be grateful to those volunteers who have dedicated themselves to preserve large numbers of memorials and cemeteries. I hope they continue their mission of saving cemeteries. But for the insensitive number crunchers, who disrespect others right to post their loved ones memorials, they’ve got to go.

    Amy, thanks for bringing this issue to light.

    Robin Slicker

  99. Dear Amy,
    You could not be more right in your suggestions. I too have had the same thing happen and it is sickening. Most will transfer back, but I have had to involve the Find a Grave to get some back. That is ridiculous. I sent find a grave an email stating that it was insulting to the family who to feel they had to post on find a grave before the body ever reached the morgue, to keep the number collectors away. I hope that they will make these changes as you have valid and appropriate solutions. I plainly fail to see why ,except they have nothing better to do and wish to raise numbers, that these individuals want someone who is not their family or they have never even met. The points of if not entered by the first person who can jump on line after coffee and the obituaries, those individuals will be lost and that grief is a subjective time is misguided. Thank you for your input and I hope Find a Grave listens.

  100. I had the exact same experience with my step son, who died suddenly in 2015. I went to create the memorial the day after the funeral. Someone else created it, the day the Obit ran in the Columbus Dispatch. I wrote the man who created it,explaining he was my step son. and he turned it over to me within an hour,

    I was very glad he turned it over, but as my family’s historian, and contributor to FindAGrave, I felt cheated and was angry.

    I think there should be, maybe a 30 day waiting period to add memorials.

  101. I have also been a contributing member of Find a Grave for some years and have had the same and similar issues. I was amazed that there are some people out there waiting like grave robbers of old to beat someone to a memorial, but at least it now explains all the stupid entries and errors that
    has made Find-a-Grave almost useless to me the last year or so. The other issue I have is “memorials” when the location of the grave is not known. Total strangers/non-family members creating memorials for people who are obviously deceased, but no actual grave location is provided. I have been able to get some corrections but not as many as I would like. I too feel cheated and angry. I would like to see Find a Grave able to provide additional information for the empty/mystery graves, as I call them.

  102. My FindAGrave problem is a bit different. Someone has done a really nice job of creating memorial pages (with lovely photos) for my great grandparents and most of my grandmother’s sisters and brothers-in-law, as well as many other people of the same surname. He was very prompt at adding some corrections I supplied to him, but hasn’t responded at all to my question about his interest in this surname. I am at a loss how to get across to him that I am not interested in taking over the management of the memorials that involve my family. I am happy that he is doing such a good job of taking care of these memorials — better than I could do myself, I’m sure. All I want to know is whether he’s also researching the family history and genealogy of this family because my cousin and I have found quite a bit of information about them which we would be willing to share with him.

  103. I’ve got one really odd one: my great uncle who died in 1942 has a memorial on FAG. It’s the only memorial that contributor has created. They took the time to search Ancestry, find a picture of him from my tree and put it on his FAG memorial. It’s all accurate and all very nice, but I’m in a small family, have no idea who this person is, and he/she does not answer my emails. I’m bursting with curiosity to know why they have created a memorial for my great-uncle.

  104. I am a top contributor to the site. I will transfer as many as 100+ of my entries in a month, to pretty much anyone who writes a respectful request. I enjoy finding old records and photographing stones that are disappearing, so that family will know where their ancestors were buried, because often they don’t have any idea or way to find out. I find the comments that contributors just want a “body count” to be disrespectful of the hundreds of hours and real money many contributors put to the hobby, with positive intentions, and a way to shame us for VOLUNTERING our time and energy. There are plenty of bad apples everywhere. But guessing at the motives of people you don’t know, just because they are active in an online hobby, is really not called for. If you write to contributors requesting transfers and updates with that chip on your shoulder, it may explain why they won’t engage with you. I find nearly everyone on the site I commiserate with to be genuinely interested in saving what is often a vanishing history. The site has issues, but I’m not willing to trash it either.

  105. Ok, I’m going to take an apparently unpopular position. Walking cemeteries and entering names and dates isn’t all that jolly and if number competitions inspire people to keep doing it rather than sitting home watching TV then hooray. I would never have located some lost family branches without some stranger’s effort to document an old, overgrown section of headstones in a town cemetery. Or another stranger posting a plot photo that I will never get to visit.

    Let’s think about being the person we would like to work with. When I create a memorial I do my best work on it and then often transfer it unbidden to the local findagrave volunteer. Why not? I’m not motivated by numbers. I don’t need to ‘own’ the memorial. I think of it as continual care for graves that we can’t personally maintain by entrusting them to the local people.

    Or, even if I’m a non-family member I think it’s sad to see that lonely immigrant memorial on findagrave with nothing but the name carved on the headstone. If I find related vital records I will summarize, document and send it to the memorial manager. If they update then great, if not at least I did my part. There are thousands more undocumented graves that I can research.

    I’m sorry for the shock and grief you experienced that someone else did this task for your loved one. But think about a burial of someone who has family in other states with infrequently used ties. If I see that new memorial promptly posted on findagrave I will contact the bereaved cousins while their loss is new. Otherwise it may be a Christmas card mention before I even hear about the death.

    • I’m all for people walking the cemeteries. I’m just asking that strangers wait at least until after the person is actually buried before making a memorial for them.

  106. Just ran across this blog post and want to comment even though it’s not recent.

    Amy, in my area, there are few people involved in Find A Grave. Nearly all of the cemeteries are current (have all known burials entered) so I enter the recently deceased to keep those cemeteries up to date. It has nothing to do with “numbers” and everything to do with the mission of the site – recording the final disposition of the deceased.

    I’ve been on Find a Grave since before transfers could be made by members and have created a good number of memorials. In all that time, NOT ONE recently bereaved family member has contacted me about the memorial being created too soon or by a non-relative. Not once.

    I’m good with whatever motivates people to contribute, even if it is their own stats. If it gives them a sense of accomplishment, in the end, we all benefit by more disposition information being available for free.

    • Lucy, I appreciate your efforts in adding memorials to Find A Grave when there are few volunteers in your area.

      However, just because nobody has contacted you doesn’t necessarily mean that nobody felt hurt. Why not wait 30 days?

  107. This is exactly what happened to me last year. My father passed away and I created his memorial and then happened to see that a stranger had created one. I was shocked and it hurt, as I also was a longtime F-A-G. contributor/member. Your blog says it all! She did delete her entry, and as I had also emailed F.A.G. admin, they also answered me and I thought it was settled. I sponsored his memorial and I assumed that was that. Imagine my shock, again, when a few days ago I happened to be on his memorial, but it wasn’t MY created memorial. Here I was – again – having to deal with my father’s entry and try to get it back again. I still do not know for sure how my entry was replaced by someone else’s, but with my sponsorship. I have contacted the guy, he’s transferring it to me, and I have also emailed F-A-G. to ask how this happened. He had some theory of how it happened, but I found my old emails to the woman and F-A-G about her page and they were in March of last year, my dad died in February and this guy’s entry has a date of February 29, 2016 on it.

    Here is his theory – I know after she deleted her entry that there were no other memorials at that time, only mine, so this makes no sense to me, but it’s what he suggests happened.

    “Sue, I created your father’s memorial on Feb 29, 2016. I can not find any reference to a merger of another memorial to the one I created. Find A Grave administrators preform actions in the back ground contributors do not know about.
    I think this is what happened, someone saw your memorial and it had a creation date after mine and Find A Grave merged them, then transferred the sponsorship to the memorial I created and deleted yours. I have only one known experience where I created a memorial of a relative only to find out there was another one that had the last name misspelled. Find A Grave merged them but they left a digital reference, meaning my memorial # still existed but only as a reference to the other memorial.
    At this point in time there are no other memorials for your father. You now have full control of his memorial with the exception of deleting it, that can only be done by Find A Grave or by transferring the memorial back to me and I can do it. I hope this is satisfactory to you.”

    As I said, your blog captured all that I felt and experienced last year, and sadly I find myself in the same situation again, a year later. I feel like I keep having it “stolen” away from me and it is stressful.

    • I’m sorry you had to go through that. Hopefully, all of it with his memorial is resolved — and stays that way.

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