Why Is There So Much Drama On Find A Grave?

Why Is There So Much Drama On Find A Grave?

by Kerry Scott on 13 April 2011

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Find A Grave is one of those tools that appeared while I was away from my research for ten years. I’ve used it to find graves (and even living descendants who have posted memorials), but I haven’t actually contributed anything, and don’t really understand how it works. I get that volunteers enter information and photos, and that other people can post memorials and stuff, but there seems to be an ownership component that I don’t get. From what I’ve seen lately, the ownership of the online graves or memorials and some of the other features seem to cause some occasional drama.

So I’m curious. Do you use Find A Grave? Do you contribute? Have your good experiences outweighed the bad? What advice would you give to someone who is new to the site and wants to begin contributing?

Photo by kyle simourd

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Matty March 12, 2013 at 3:30 pm

I’m going to toss out for all of you another problem that we will all have someday.

What happens when we become a FAG Memorial.

Yea, yea, I know we are all going to live forever….but what if…….?

I have already designated by grandson to manage my memorials. He has my user name and password and can make my memorial if he wants.

If someone should ask for them, transfer them. If in the meantime I find another genealogy oriented relative that is much younger than I am now, I’ll have him transfer the whole thing to them if they are willing to take on the job, which at this point there isn’t much to do.

I’m just trying to plan ahead so they don’t become inactive and in FAG’s control. No one will get them transferred then.

Just doing what any good computer user would do….making a backup :)

Lee March 12, 2013 at 9:21 pm

I’ve thought about that, too. I thought that I would find someone to transfer what’s left to when I’m too old to do this anymore. I hope that between now and then, a great many of the memorials will already be in the hands of others. If I go suddenly, I guess people will just have to email the FAG managers to get their memorials. As to my own memorial, that is a bit of a dilemma. Have to think about that one. Maybe I’ll have to entrust someone to put it up before the obituary hits the newspaper.
I wonder what the hoarders think will happen when they go. Are they hoping to still enjoy their death grip on these memorials from beyond as their account becomes inactive and people keep hopelessly trying to contact them to no avail?

Kerry Scott March 13, 2013 at 4:39 pm

That’s really smart. Good for you for thinking ahead…and good for your grandson for recognizing that this is something that’s important to you.

JC April 3, 2013 at 1:39 pm

When I am memorialized myself, the memorials I managed at the time of my death will be under the care of my designated steward. All it takes is writing an email designating who you wish to be steward.

Jan Wukasch Pelosi May 29, 2013 at 4:20 pm

I’ve had that thought as well. Good planning! I just need to find someone in my family who is interested in this. Wish me luck!

Passing On June 12, 2013 at 2:21 pm

You can pass on your FAG memorials to whoever you want….but if he/she is not related within 4 generations of that memorial (like you are),,or related at all….,,someone who is will order him to transfer the memorial to him/her.

Will K March 12, 2013 at 4:37 pm

I think these Genealogical sites such as Find A Grave(Adopt a Grave), Ancestry.com & Fold 3 would fair much better if they would create gift cards you can buy at 7/11 like the ones Face Book uses for it’s Zynga games.
Everybody and their brother wants into your bank account these days, it’s just plain scary..
Remember the good old days, when you only had the Bank, yourself or a spouse to blame for a banking error?

JC April 3, 2013 at 1:40 pm

You can use Find A Grave and never pay a dime. No one is forced to sponsor a memorial.

Donna May 4, 2013 at 12:24 pm

Yes, I have been a member for over 3 years and the only memorial I have sponsored is my Dads. As I am doing family research, I will probably sponsor more members of my family, but FAG doesn’t require ANY financial contributions……

Cheryl Cayemberg March 12, 2013 at 8:40 pm

I guess I’ve been lucky. I haven’t had any drama on FindAGrave. I’ve transferred memorials to other people that I’ve created and I’ve had memorials transferred to me as well. I’ve even dealt with a memorial that I discovered was created by someone that had passed and FindAGrave transferred it to me as well.

It’s been a great resource in getting photos of tombstones (with that important info!). I’ve also never had anyone say “no” to me using a photo they took on my blog.

I usually attract drama so I hope my luck holds! LOL!

Lee March 12, 2013 at 9:28 pm

Fortunately, most people who do this are happy to cooperate with one another. And hopefully you will never have to deal with someone who isn’t.

Diana March 14, 2013 at 9:44 am

I sponsored a memorial that had been there for 10 year. Then the memorial was deleted. My money was wasted. Luckily, it was only five dollars.

Diana March 31, 2013 at 4:54 pm

I decided to notify admin, and they solved the problem for me immediately.

Cheryl Sigsbee March 14, 2013 at 12:28 pm

I’ve been entering memorials and have requested and had many transferred to me (as a family member). I’ve been working on ancestry.com and their “hints” are now locating Find-A-Grave memorials in many cases.

I have found that if you don’t enter a Memorial, somebody else probably will, or has, since many people enter grave sites for entire cemeteries (perhaps as a hobby). Before entering a Memorial, do a really good search for the person, you there’ll end up being a duplicate. Find-A-Grave even allows entry of individuals in cases where their ashes have been scattered.

The FAQ section is really helpful: http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?searchArg=transfer&page=listFaqs

K Goins March 19, 2013 at 8:17 pm

I’ve been a volunteer contributor to Find A Grave for several years. I was contacted by one of the “notorious” drama-queens, but I thanked her for her input, corrected what she said was wrong about my memorial, and put it behind me. Sometimes I think how we respond can either reduce or inflame those folks. I enjoy taking pictures of graves and uploading them to the site. Other than very rare instances, I have enjoyed working as a volunteer contributor to the site. I’ve been thrilled to find several of my ancestors on the site that I would not have known about otherwise.

Sunny April 16, 2013 at 7:50 pm

I was also contacted by someone from FAG…she sent me a message on my Ancestry account, telling me if I was one of those findagrave stalkers to stay away from her!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

While I’ve been a member for about a year, I don’t usuallyd memorials at all. I like to do photo requests and with winter snow, I’ve been inactive for months and haven’t been on the site. I don’t really like doing the memorials preferring to be out in the cemeteries, though I have done a few for family a a couple friends. I keep a very low profile, have never set foot in the forums and my interacton with people over there has been limited to conversations about photos. I have no idea why she thinks I would be stalking her or even who the person was who sent me that message. When I asked for an explanation, I got no response from her. Her ancestry name didn’t come up as a FAG member either, so I assume she goes by something else over there. I loved FAG when I first started going there but it’s definitely changed. It’s not fun anymore.

Lee April 17, 2013 at 4:09 am

That’s really odd that someone would contact you randomly like that. Sounds like what they call a “troll”–someone on the internet just looking for ways to stir people up.
I know what you mean about it not being as fun anymore. I will continue to work on my family line on FAG, but for simply documenting grave markers of people I don’t know, I’ve switched to Billiongraves. I can photograph multiple stones and upload them directly and I don’t even have to transcribe them if I don’t want to. There is no ownership–as soon as they are uploaded, GPS assigns them to the correct cemetery and they go into the database for people to transcribe. i took a bunch of photos at a local cemetery the other day and when I went to transcribe them that evening, many were already done!
It doesn’t have all the features that FAG has but you can still add info and there is no hassle of “managing” the memorials and squabbling over “ownership”.
I enjoy cemetery photography and am dedicated to historical preservation, especially of genealogical data and I like helping people locate their lost relatives and this site fulfills that for me. For sharing more in depth research and linking family members, FAG works better for me.

Sunny April 17, 2013 at 6:32 am

I was shocked Lee! I am so not into that drama and stay as far away from it as possible. But what was more puzzling was to have it be on my Ancestry account since I don’t go by the same name there so how could they even know I had a FAG account? Add to that, I haven’t been on Ancestry in weeks and yet I log in on the very day this message is posted. I used my full name at FAG but I don’t on Ancestry. I’m now wondering if I’m not the one with the stalker, though why anyone would bother??????? I sent the person a message and asked why they thought I was stalking them but of course, they didn’t respond. So then I sent Ancestry a copy of the message and asked them to deal with it. I also did a search on this person and found links going back to 2007 where he/she had asked if there was a complaint board for FAG…. they were all the same but they were addressed to Ancestry and the messages had been removed.

Lee April 18, 2013 at 9:50 am

Definitely sounds like a troll. I wouldn’t worry about it. I got a similar message via ancestry.com a while back asking about something on FAG–can’t remember exactly what it said. It looked odd so I googled the question and it turns out a lot of people got the same message. There are some people who enjoy stirring up trouble. The more attention you give them, the more they like it. Best not to feed the beast.

Find a Grave FAG March 25, 2013 at 7:47 pm

The problem with find a grave are the grave squatters aka grave hoarders aka bean counters.

They rapidly type as many graves into FAG from on-line cemetery lists AND THEN SIT ON THEM. Hoarders are NOT related to 99% of the graves and they have no intention of researching the non-relative graves.

Grave hoarders SQUAT over a grave and expect the relatives of these graves to just give them their hard earned research.

Grave squatters also refuse to transfer non-relative graves to people who do care enough to research them.

FAG hoarders egos are wrapped up in how many graves they can amass. They also get high off of the power of saying no to someone who is a relative who would like a grave transferred to them.

Many FAG members refuse to give any information about their relatives to a FAG non- relative squatter/hoarder who holds their relatives.

This refusal of FAG members to FEED THE FAG hoarder beast by giving them any information about the graves under them is why FAG hoarders graves have bare bones information even years after the first frenzied input by the FAG hoarder to get that grave in before anyone else.

Hoarders justify their behavior by saying they got their first. That justifies them to SIT on a grave waiting for other to just give them the REAL work which is research data on the person. If the hoarder deleted every grave under his/her management, a relative would quickly snap up those graves and update them with all their bio information. It is easy to enter a grave from a list – it is hard work to research that person.

FAG should REMOVE any grave from any FAG grave manager who has not NOT actively worked that grave in a year. That would solve the hoarder problem quickly.

Sunny March 31, 2013 at 9:19 am

You nailed it. Most of the contributors are great people but there are some who fit the criteria you described. Part of the problem seems to be the lack of consistency in the rules. They don’t seem to apply to everyone in the same way.

James July 3, 2013 at 5:24 pm

Agreed. Funny how the admins bust many of the copyright violators, but allow some to repeatedly violate it.

Matty April 1, 2013 at 8:14 am

You just gave me an idea……

How about if…..when you find a memorial with dates only and you are related and the person who made the memorial won’t transfer it, you contact FAG and ask them.

“This person won’t transfer this memorial to me. I AM related and they are NOT.

Why hasn’t this person added any information on this memorial after a year?

You should be required to fill in a memorial in a years time.



Wonder how long it would take for then to change the guidelines for transfer if they got 50+ of these messages a day.

Matty April 2, 2013 at 10:54 am

I think I mentioned this before, but I’m going to put it in again.

I have another “Beef” with some of the memorials on FAG and the “hoarders” that make them.

They get up early, get their coffee and sit down and access the local funeral home(s) listings for the day. Copy and paste the info into a new memorial including the photo if there is one provided on the obit.

My question is….is that memorial “Legal”?
The key words in a obit are…..
“services WILL BE held”
“burial WILL BE held”
“burial “TO FOLLOW the service”
“burial TO BE….in another city, state”

In my humble opinion these are not “legal” memorials.

The deceased is lying in state in the funeral home, at home, medical examiners dept. or wherever.
There is a high probability the family hasn’t picked out the casket yet.

So if you want a memorial transferred to you, check the date of any obit if it’s in the memorial with the date the memorial was made.
Then you legally make a duplicate. AND email FAG and tell them you have made a duplicate and why. When the original memorial was made the person wasn’t in the ground yet.

Hopefully with enough emails to FAG on people doing this practice on a daily basis, they just might get kicked off, or reprimanded by FAG.

Had that happen with my dad’s first cousin. I made a new memorial, filled it all in with the obit, her photo from my collection, made the links to her parents etc. I made mine the day after the funeral and internment. (I sent flowers to the funeral home)

Then I emailed the guy who made the original memorial and told him to delete his. She wasn’t in the ground yet when he made the memorial so it wasn’t legal. Told him if he didn’t delete the memorial, I would contact FAG. He did delete it VERY fast.

IF you trip over a memorial that has a obit in it and it’s not related to you, and the dates are off, email that info to FAG anyway. Hopefully a new rule will be made.
“The person HAS TO be buried before a memorial is made”

Let’s say the service is at 2pm in the afternoon. Make your memorial 3 hours later. Believe it or not FAG can check their log pages and find the date AND TIME the memorial was made.

Sorry to be so “wordy” with this post. I just want everyone to sharpen their skills.

Kerry Scott April 2, 2013 at 3:06 pm

I completely agree with you on this. I’ve talked to people who have found their loved one on FAG before the funeral was even held. Aside from the fact that they aren’t actually in the grave yet, it’s an astonishingly cruel thing to do to people who are grieving.

FAG drama in general isn’t my thing, but this particular practice is ugly and needs to stop. I don’t know why they can’t implement a technical fix, where the system automatically rejects an entry where the date of death is fewer than 30 or 60 days in the past. It seems like that would solve the problem completely.

JC April 3, 2013 at 8:28 am

It is entirely “legal” to create a memorial before the burial.

Don’t deliberately duplicate for ANY reason.

Matty April 4, 2013 at 10:07 am

Please ‘site your source” on WHERE making a memorial before the person has been buried.

This contradicts what you said below on April 4th

“The main purpose of the site always has been “grave registration”

If a person is “in state” in the funeral home or at home….
They aren’t buried yet. There is no way of knowing if the gave has been dug yet :)

Mary May 15, 2013 at 7:07 pm

Actually, you can request a transfer in the exact manner you described. However, Findagrave decides whether or not to transfer on a case-by-case manner, so it would help to be polite about it.

And they do get 50+ of these types of messages each day.

Jan Wukasch Pelosi May 29, 2013 at 4:24 pm

I want desperately for family members to manage memorials rather than me. I gladly transfer whenever contacted.

J'aime Rubio April 1, 2013 at 4:01 pm

I am an investigative writer and author, and Findagrave has proved invaluable to my research. It has also been a great addition for my writing, to be able to enter names and stories of people into the Findagrave website and create memorials or add to existing memorials, be it with their stories or photos. I have met some of the nicest people on there and it is a great community. If you have your own family “virtual” graveyards listed strangers on Findagrave visit your family members pages and leave flowers which is very nice. So in turn you do it for them, that’s how you make contacts on there. You can also volunteer to take photo requests for people who may want photos of their loved ones graves if they live out of the area and are unable to get to the cemeteries themselves. I met my best friend on Findagrave while researching a story I was writing on my blog….had I never been on Findagrave I would have never met him. Findagrave is wonderful!

Lee April 3, 2013 at 10:16 am

It’s a curious choice to save all your SACs rather than simply giving the person providing information credit for it in the biography. What could be simpler than that? If you are posting info from another source/ researcher then the only honest thing to do is to credit that source / person. And then the interested party can contact the source directly instead of having to go through you. You will find researchers more willing to send you info rather than duplicating if you do this.

JC April 3, 2013 at 1:44 pm

The site does NOT want “credit in the biography”. The biography is supposed to be about the deceased, not who provided what tidbit of info.

Lee April 3, 2013 at 4:03 pm

I don’t think it is “messy” to briefly cite the source of your information. I think it is helpful. And if obits are copied from newspapers, that source should be cited, as well as bios from books, etc.

JC April 4, 2013 at 4:45 am

I believe that, as a guest of the site, it is simply common courtesy to follow the wishes of the owner. Obits and bios from books (published after 1923) should not be copied because of copyright issues; abstracting the facts from those items is okay.

Diana April 4, 2013 at 5:19 am

Courteous people of integrity cite the sources of their information even when not required to do so.

JC April 4, 2013 at 1:37 pm

Even when the site owner doesn’t want them to? I like being a member of Find A Grave, so I’m going to comport myself accordingly. Those who are willing to overlook the owner’s wishes on one thing, may feel it is okay to overlook other policies, such as duplicating.

James July 3, 2013 at 5:16 pm

Obits as late as 1963 are probably out of copyright and some photos taken before 1923 are still in copyright if the photograph or item wasn’t published. While 1923 is a good year, plenty of stuff published after 1923 is now out of copyright.

Example of pre-1923 photo still under copyright.



As mentioned here, citing a source doesn’t give you permission to use the photograph. You do need to cite the source to avoid being sued for plagiarism.


Wire photos and other newspaper or press release photos are also covered by copyright.


Lee April 4, 2013 at 5:51 am

Ok, so here is what it ACTUALLY says in the FAG FAQ’s:
“You should not copy obituary notices from newspapers to an individual’s memorial record unless you have permission from the newspaper to do so or you are the author of the obituary. Some obituaries that were published in 1922 or earlier are now in the public domain. In general, obituaries in newspapers are submitted by the family with assistance from the funeral home. If the obituary is added to the memorial record, it should list the newspaper and date the obit was printed for example “Published in the Hattiesburg American, Hattiesburg, Mississippi, Internet Edition, April 11, 2007″. Please do not include the names of living or surviving relatives in the biography, unless you have their permission. If you do not have permission to copy an obituary to a memorial, you may put a note stating the name of the newspaper and the date the obituary was published.

What can I include in a non-famous bio?
Genealogical data:
Genealogical information about the subject can be included in the biography.”

JC will certainly do as she pleases but I would appeal to others to cite your sources and give the user name and ID number for info added that came from that person. The fact that this website is more than a grave registry is attested to by the fact that it is designed to allow the inclusion of biographical data and family links and that it is LINKED TO ANCESTRY.COM. When I am researching a family line it is incredibly helpful if I can contact the people who know something about that family. And re: books, etc, it is not a copyright violation to quote a few paragraphs IF YOU CITE YOUR SOURCE.

JC April 4, 2013 at 9:30 am

No, Lee, I will do what the SITE OWNER wants rather than impose what I want. To me, it’s all part of the being a “good” guest.

By the way, Ancestry indexed and linked TO Find A Grave. No agreement between the two companies whatsoever.

Biographical data was always part of the memorials, even when it was only “Famous” graves. The family links were incorporated to make it easier for those who do not know how to do HTML (or read the FAQs where the HTML coding was listed). Many of us were linking from one memorial to another before the family link capability was implemented.

However, all those features are “extras”. The main purpose of the site always has been “grave registration”.

James July 3, 2013 at 5:20 pm

JC, according to Tipton, he only denied one specific type of agreement between Findagrave and Ancestry.

And so far, nobody at Findagrave has denied that Findagrave is being purchased or acquired by Ancestry or another company.

I am surprised you say

The site does NOT want “credit in the biography”. The biography is supposed to be about the deceased, not who provided what tidbit of info.

but later say

The FAQs do not address citing other contributors, only publications (which limits it to having permission). As one admin wrote once in the Forums “Do we need to spell out every little thing?”

Lee April 4, 2013 at 6:27 am

And bottom line, it is dishonest to post someone else’s research as if it was your own. You are allowing others to assume that it is your work.

JC April 4, 2013 at 12:55 pm

Those who use Find A Grave need to understand the purpose of the site and the collaboration that goes into memorials as well as accept the fact it is not a “genealogical site” else it would have a field for Sources. That is the crux of the “drama”.

Lee April 4, 2013 at 11:18 am

JC, like I have said, no one can compel you to give others credit for their research or bios that they have either quoted or written,, and obviously you are very embedded in your position. But please do not tell others that citing sources is against FAG policy, when, as I quoted from the FAQ’s above, this is clearly not the case.

I personally do not care for drama and we may simply have to agree to disagree on this point and everyone else can decide for themselves, based on the facts.

JC April 4, 2013 at 1:07 pm

Lee, you conveniently glossed over the first portion of that FAQ:
“You should not copy obituary notices from newspapers to an individual’s memorial record unless you have permission from the newspaper to do so or you are the author of the obituary.”

The FAQs do not address citing other contributors, only publications (which limits it to having permission). As one admin wrote once in the Forums “Do we need to spell out every little thing?”

Matty April 4, 2013 at 1:17 pm

Are you getting the impression that the FAG police have arrived on this forum in the form of JC ??

Tony April 4, 2013 at 1:21 pm

Obsessive people can’t help themselves. Have some pity. There are reasons people are like that.

JC April 4, 2013 at 1:29 pm

Matty, I’m trying to help those who are dissatisfied with certain aspects of the site to better understand the site. Much of that dissatisfaction is caused by trying to make the site something different than what it is – or trying to make a square peg fit in a round hole.

Lee April 4, 2013 at 1:21 pm

Oh, JC, I haven’t “glossed over” anything. I included exactly what you cited in my previous post. However, you are telling people that the creators of the website don’t want people to cite sources or give researchers credit for their work when clearly they have said no such thing in the FAQ’s. You are giving your version of how you are convinced that things need to be done and misrepresenting the facts.

JC April 4, 2013 at 1:24 pm

Lee, try hanging out in the Forums. The point the admin was making was the FAQs are already long and do NOT address every single thing. That’s the purpose of the Forums…

Lee April 4, 2013 at 1:27 pm

Matty, the police adhere to the law, a set of rules. They don’t decide what they THINK is the law and run around trying to enforce it. ; )

JC April 4, 2013 at 1:30 pm

A good member of any site adheres to the wishes of the site owner… :)

JC April 4, 2013 at 1:40 pm

No reply option on the post of Matty’s post with “Please ‘site your source” on WHERE making a memorial before the person has been buried.”

Turn it around, and cite your source that states that a memorial canNOT be created until the burial has taken place… Or, you can go ask in the Forums. That’s where I learned it is permissible, from an admin.

Lee April 4, 2013 at 1:46 pm

Being a broken record about saying that “it’s the owner’s wishes” doesn’t make it true.

K Goins April 4, 2013 at 3:18 pm

I appreciate the fact that these discussions have been civil, but they still make me a little sad.

My “thing” is taking pictures of graves and uploading them. I’m working on getting all graves in a local cemetery photographed. When there’s no memorial already on FAG, I have to create one.

There are numerous graves where it appears that one spouse has passed and the other has not, so I wasn’t sure what to do, whether to create a memorial for the one who may or may not have passed yet, based solely on the information on the monument. That is, when a double monument has both names and appropriate dates but without a death date for one or the other spouse. I do type in the entire inscription in the correct space when creating the memorial for the one I am sure has passed already.

After inquiring of an admin about whether to create a memorial for a GRAVE that didn’t have a date of death on the double monument, I was told that it is permissible to create a memorial and upload the pic for a spouse whose GRAVE shows that they were born before 1935 (if I remember correctly-I have it documented elsewhere) even though the monument may not show a death date.

My parents had their headstones placed many years before they died and loved taking family and friends to show them where their final resting place would be. I know they wouldn’t have minded a memorial being created for them years before they passed, but also know that there are people who would not feel that way. That’s why I asked an admin.

I have also found single graves with a date of birth but no date of death, and from the date of birth, I was sure they couldn’t still be alive. I generally check the SSDI for those and have often found the date of death there. In those cases, I do create a memorial so I can upload the picture whether I have found a date of death for them or not. Someone born in 1875 is obviously not still going to be alive even if no one ever bothered to have their date of death added to their grave marker.

There are a lot of situations that are not covered in the FAQs but are addressed on the Forums and by admins. I think it’s absolutely appropriate to check before making assumptions and doing that which seems “right” to me.

Lee April 4, 2013 at 5:05 pm

I went on the forums a couple of times. I found them to be very unpleasant and I don’t go on them anymore.

Like I have said before, the vast majority of contributors are lovely people and very helpful. You can usually see where they stand on transfers, etc by reading their bios and by asking politely, they are more than willing to at least add information.

Lee April 5, 2013 at 5:55 am

I think that regardless of whether the administrators give you permission to do something, you still have to use your best judgement. Some people are not going to appreciate a memorial being created for them when they are still alive. And there are certainly plenty of people born before 1935 who are still alive. Someone created a memorial for my father, and I really was not comfortable with that. Which is why I have ceased the practice, myself. If the administrators say its ok, you can certainly do it, but I would ask myself, just because I can do something, does that mean I should? I think that K Goins’ practice of checking to make sure they have actually passed is wise. But keep in mind, many times no date of death on a tombstone often means that they were actually buried elsewhere. Family is the final decider of where we are actually laid to rest and they often prefer to have their loved ones buried closer to where they live.

There are a lot of gray areas and the FAQ’s of course cannot cover every circumstance. It does not surprise me at all that they could become exasperated with people demanding answers to questions about every little thing people “are allowed to do” and say “do we have to spell out every little thing?”

I think that, in the absence of clear cut guidance from the site, you have to go with what you think is right. I am always going to consider it right to cite my sources, for example. It is the right and proper thing to give credit where credit is due and they teach us that in school from the time we are children and write our first book report. To take credit for someone else’s work is plagiarism.

Tony April 5, 2013 at 6:05 am

Lee, you are right. We can (and I think we should) hold ourselves to higher standards. I saw nothing in the rules that says you must not cite your sources. Citing sources shows respect for the reader and displays the integrity of the writer. Citing sources allows others to check the accuracy of your facts, so failing to cite sources shows a degree of smugness.

Lee April 5, 2013 at 12:47 pm

Tony, you make a good point about accountability. One should be able to back up their claims. Not every source of information is reliable or trustworthy and some are even outright fabrications.

Tony April 5, 2013 at 5:44 pm

You can’t even count on obituaries be correct. The funeral home made my father’s obituary. I have no idea where the got the information. They were wrong about his job and got several close family member’s names wrong. I will never trust an obituary again, and I certainly won’t allow a funeral home to compose an obituary if I have any say in it. (The funeral home was not happy with me for pointing out their errors.)

Lee April 13, 2013 at 10:44 am

That’s awful about your father’s obituary. And it’s so true that you can never count on any documentation as being 100% accurate. Another important reason to cite your sources–so that others can consider the accuracy.

Pam April 11, 2013 at 10:37 pm

I am what the poster “Find A Grave FAG” would label as a site hoarder. It seems that bullying and name calling are passing for fact here. Please, do not judge Find A Grave volunteers on the basis of this person’s opinion.
As the child of a military family in active duty for 30 years, I moved around a lot, all around the world. I’d never seen someone else with my last name (that wasn’t in my immediate family) until I was in my mid 20s. That’s when I was finally able to visit a relative in a rural community in the mid-West, where I discovered more than a dozen graves with that surname in one tiny town’s burial ground. No documents were available. No indexes had been created. No photos existed.
Due to injuries, it’s impossible for me to tramp around gravesites anymore.
The truth of the matter is, I know that my talents are with databases and with creating and maintaining large numbers of records. Computers are easier than walking, for me. I didn’t just grab onto a list of graves. I worked carefully through partial records — that are not indexed, got them into a workable format, added grave location information, am attempting to clarify the old information by matching to SSDI or state death records indexes to improve accuracy and avoid human and OCR scan issues, and whenever possible, I am trying to match the info to other biographical information. I have NO intention of keeping these memorials away from family members who are interested in adding information, who want to maintain them. But I’m also concerned about long term maintenance.
There are a core group of volunteers who walk the grave sites at the cemetery near me (with tens of thousands of graves, it’s a huge project), I work WITH them. Combined, our talents shine. I can provide them a row by row list to walk the site with. They add info, take photos, verify spellings, and add military service information to the records. Then, I do the additional data input. The cemetery doesn’t link family members graves to one another in any way in their records. The database work I do includes manually searching, one at a time, to match grave sites next to one another, match families through other records (using my paid membership to genealogy sites) and link up family. The other volunteers do the part they like — going out and taking pictures, or reading memorials or checking on questions that come up. I do the part I can do — work on my computer from home. First and foremost, we want every person who wants to find their loved ones to be able to locate their grave, accurately.
IF someone who is related provides information and doesn’t want to maintain the memorial, then I will gladly add information. IF someone wants a transfer of their closely related family, I transfer to them. But I take care to remind people of the research already done, so that the naming conventions and records match.
Frankly, I could care less about the volume of memorials I have created. All it does is create more maintenance work for me. I’ve asked the admins of FAG to allow for a shared area, so that dedicated volunteers can work together for a particular cemetery project. And to create some means to enter family connections for batches of people. Every memorial that has any birth or death location information had to have that entered ONE person at a time.
This is primarily a labor of love. Each volunteer chooses where their talents lie. Whether to contribute their own family information; take photos of graves; research other people’s families and make connections that you use to fill out your family tree…
Why not give credit to everyone who contributes, instead of name calling and sniping that someone isn’t doing it the way you expect? If people like me quit in droves because people like you keep sniping at us for not filling in enough information, we will all loose. If people like you who want to create a detailed memorial for their family members quit because they can’t find where the person was buried to begin with, we will all lose. The resource is available because volunteers care enough to do something. Do what you can and leave the rest. Be gentle. You have no idea what motivates any of the other volunteers.
For me, I wanted to be sure that no one ever has to be the only kid who doesn’t know where any family is buried. Not for lack of care, but because my father’s service to the country did not include the chance to fly stateside for my grandparents, uncles, aunts, and cousins funerals. I didn’t have the opportunity.
Today, I try very hard to connect these families to each other. Do I have a sense of pride about it? Yes. Do I act protective of the memorials I have entered, no matter how little information is posted so far? YES. Because someone is now going to be able to take the piece of the puzzle that I provided, do more research, and find their family. And isn’t that a good thing?

Kerry Scott April 12, 2013 at 3:29 pm

Yes. It IS a good thing. Thank you for your hard work.

Lee April 13, 2013 at 10:12 am

Hi Pam,
It sounds like you are doing incredible work. You are not the kind of contributor that people would generally consider a “hoarder” at all. There are some people who either take someone else’s transcriptions/on-line database without their permission and download the bare minimum required or randomly snap poor quality photos and add the minimum, often inaccurately transcribed names/dates in order to create a lot of memorials in a short period of time. And even that would not annoy most family and serious researchers if they were willing to transfer or at least add/correct information and give proper credit to the researcher or family member who provided the information. This is clearly not what you are doing at all and I, for one, really appreciate the efforts of contributors like you. I am always incredibly grateful when I am able to find someone in my family tree who I otherwise would never have found.

Sunny April 15, 2013 at 1:29 pm

We have a fake cemetery…hard to believe anyone would go to all that work and trouble, but it appears they have. I got a couple of requests to do photos in a cemetery in a small town nearby. Since I know a volunteer there who is more familiar with the area, I passed the request on to him. His response was “that cemetery doesn’t exist”. WHAT? How can that be? It’s on FAG with over 80 memorials. So I began searching records…historical society, county, city, state, you name it. No one had ever heard of this cemetery and if it existed, someone would know. And the distinctive sign posted in the cemetery photo on the intro page; nowhere to be found. No GPS coordinates or directions either. Now I can walk through any of the cemeteries in a 4 county area and find family names that are familiar to me….not so in this one. Except for Davis and Johnson, every name was strange to me. And when I did a Google search of some of those names, the only reference returned was FAG. No other source came up. The same was true of the cemetery. A Google search led right back to FAG and it’s not listed anywhere else either. I did a search of every state adjoining this one for a cemetery by that name, and found a handful with similiar names but not the one in question. Three of us contacted FAG asking who had entered the cemetery and why we wanted to know. We were all ignored. I learned later that this had come up several times in past years and FAG has never addressed it. Another point…every memorial was done by the same person and in a very short time, (like 2 days). Attempts to contact him have failed as well. He’s deleted his bio and there is no contact info. So this all brings into question the credibility of information posted on FAG.

Matty April 16, 2013 at 3:30 am

Do me a favor and put all the info/details on that cemetery here. I personally would like to take a look at it. I’ll tell you why later.

Sunny April 16, 2013 at 7:29 pm

There are 88 memorials in this cemetery. Here is a link…

When I had no luck searching the surrounding states, I did a search for the sign and it came back to a cemetery in Yale British Columbia: Pioneer Cemetery Sign. Sign marking an 1858 cemetery in Yale, BC.

Matty April 17, 2013 at 7:20 am

In looking at that cemetery and then doing a Google search on the submitters name, BrixtonWy it looks like he has added more in the Big Horn region.

According to USGS and using their find domestic place names search…..

There are two Pioneer Cemeteries in Wyoming

Pioneer Cemetery
1592842 Cemetery Carbon WY 413424N 1065754W 6693 Overland Crossing - 05-JUN-1979

Pleasant Ridge Pioneer Cemetery
1592873 Cemetery Niobrara WY 424952N 1040534W 5013 Kirtley - 05-JUN-1979

However neither one is near Thermopolis
When using the map locator to the right, I personally like the Google GNIS one, you can get not only a map view but a hybrid view.

I didn’t do a nation search on the words “Pioneer Cemetery”

This is really funny. I’m a native of Wyoming….This is the last place I would think the cemetery reference would be.

oh, BTW, I use the USGS Web site to find all kinds of domestic names. You can find all kinds of features, river, streams, churches, cemeteries. THEN find the topo map pre 1940 to locate them. Most times they have the topo map linked. Example on the first listing for the cemetery, The word “Overland Crossing” is the quadrangle map name inside the state.

This submitter just might be in the right church but has the wrong pew….

Matty April 17, 2013 at 7:29 am

You are sooo right, I just looked also and that cemetery sign does in fact show up in BC.

Hey, I would document your findings and then contact the guy at FAG and show him your proof the cemetery is in BC and not Wyoming. There is one contact on FAG that just does cemeteries.

This is a real hoot !!! And it goes to show ya never underestimate the power of a good researcher :)

Great work!!

Sunny April 17, 2013 at 3:59 pm

Matty BrixtonWY’s name can be found in most of the cemeteries in the state from what I’ve seen and he’s from Cody originally I think. A few months ago, I was helping a friend who was trying to locate a relative’s grave in an unknown cemetery in the NE part of the state…As I went from cemetery to cemetery, I was amazed to see BrixtonWY had posted many of the memorials in several cemeteries there. I also found his name in one of the Casper cemeteries.

I sent FAG all the information I had found on the Pioneer cemetery, including the Yale information and no one ever responded. I know of two other people who have done the same, but both were ignored. I know that one person contacted BrixtonWY about the Pioneer cemetery, saying it wasn’t there…BrixtonWY’s response was “I know”. It’s just very odd.

Matty April 18, 2013 at 7:07 am

With BrixtonWYs comment “I know” almost sounds to me like he is “holding” memorial numbers for future use. ie, instead of asking for a transfer, he just changes the info in the memorial and then cries to the one already made “mine was made before yours” and with the lower number….he wins. I’m contacting a friend of mine, also from WY AND really big into FAG and pose this questionable cemetery to him.

In looking at the Pioneer cemetery in BC there are some very old dates in it. Also looks like one person did the submitting on FAG with headstone pics.

Also privately contact anyone you know in WY privately and ask if they have ever heard of this person. I know I’m going to. I haven’t seen his name in the main Cody cemetery Riverside, but haven’t looked at every listing…..there are 4661 there.

use this link when asking….there is a good photo of the guy

click on the photo to see it larger. Maybe someone knows who he is.

Sunny April 18, 2013 at 10:01 am

Check out the two sponsored memorials. One is of his grandmother .

Sunny April 18, 2013 at 10:07 am

I did a quick look at his managed memorials….many done in Cody.

Sunny April 18, 2013 at 8:07 pm

They’re adding memorials to that Yale cemetery at this time and so far only one person is doing it. The write up about it was interesting. Most of the people didn’t die an easy death.

Sunny April 18, 2013 at 8:12 pm

My mistake. That link isn’t to the Yale cemetery. Many Pioneer cemeteries in Canada though.

Robert Yorks May 13, 2013 at 5:52 am

What you are doing is a valuable contribution. First you are helping preserve gravestone data that someday will be too faded to read. Second you are providing extremely valuable data for genealogists and family historians that have neither the time nor the money to search out and document all of their ‘widely separated’ kinfolk. I could care less that you are not ‘related’ to the deceased. In the long run, we are all related, and in the short term, (400 years) you would be surprised to find to whom you are actually related.
Thank you for your contributions.

Carol Smith April 12, 2013 at 10:55 am

Hi,I just wanted to weigh in–there are plenty of bean counters.But,I have met some of the most wonderful people in the world.We wanted to put all of West Springfield,MA onto FAG before rain and man completely destroy the old stones.I am on the last cem.-St. Thomas,which is hugh.So take a step and join FAG.

Transfer Graves and Delete April 19, 2013 at 4:52 am

I completed researched 3 family members who were distant relatives right down to linking them and providing their full date of birth and dates of deaths, full obits, etc. Imagine my surprise when after I transferred them, they were all deleted (which included my name) and the memorials re-entered with all my research information under someone else’s name. What a jerk thing to do. Someone told me that FAG fixed that problem because now only the person who originally entered the memorial can delete it. If true that is good to know.

Lee April 21, 2013 at 9:51 am

That’s terrible! Fortunately, it’s true that you can no longer delete someone else’s memorials. I had two identical memorials transferred to me and tried to delete one and a message pops up saying that only the person who created it can delete it.

James July 3, 2013 at 5:34 pm

Lee, that’s why transfer delete was removed.

Would love to see at least a date option that shows when the cemetery, person’s name, and preferably also birth/death dates are changed. Better yet, it creates a new memorial number. This would prevent someone from claiming they have the older memorial if they change a major element. Seen too many people claim they have the older memorial when they had the name misspelled or plopped them in the wrong cemetery.

After the debacle of some admins pre-dating some memorials to allow a few people to have the “older” memorial, relying on date alone isn’t a good solution. Think it’s sad they reworded a few of the FAQs so admin discretion can now override someone with the older memorial. In my opinion, if a person places a person as BU or wrong cemetery or wrong/misspelled name, they aren’t the oldest memorial.

How To Get Even With Hoarders April 19, 2013 at 5:06 am

Do NOT update any grave they manage if they are not a relative of that memorial (and you are).

That is why grave hoarders (should make a TV show about them) have so many scantily information pages because other than the bare minimum they rushed to enter to get there first – NO ONE ELSE WILL GAVE THEM ANY INFORMATION.

Matty April 19, 2013 at 2:31 pm

I’m glad there are others that agree with me on this issue. IF I am related to that memorial, I will not send any any additional info and tell the submitter that I won’t be adding the info. NO transfer – NO info.
I had one guy that filled info from the SS Death Index…..that was his definition of “additional info”. I kept asking for this couple. So then he got me really got ticked off and sponsored them, and he got a automated message that they had been sponsored. He sent me a message and called me a few choice names. I told him, keep up the good work filling in and working with relatives asking for transfers. Don’t ask what I did on the flower tributes that he can’t erase.

Lee April 21, 2013 at 11:18 am

Personally, my experience has been good, most of the time, in adding information to memorials that have not been transferred to me. Most people will add your info and also list you as the source of the info. People can have a lot of reasons for not wanting to transfer. Some are more sticklers for the guidelines. Some have been burned in the past by having their memorials deleted or altered. Some may feel that they need to hold onto them until a direct descendant requests them. Some just feel protective of their hard work in creating them. For me the main goal is information sharing. I don’t have to manage a memorial in order to share information with other descendants/ researchers. If the person is willing to add info/links and my name/contributor #, so that other descendants/researchers can contact me, I am perfectly happy with that. Most of the time, I will still send updates even if they do not include my contact info.

Most people, even if initially not 100% cooperative, will eventually come around if you are consistently nice with them. Only on one occasion have I had to just stop sending someone updates and go another route to get the info out. I don’t look for fights on FAG. However, one individual decided to come looking for fights with me–repeatedly. It is not fun to be harrassed by someone like that. I do not send them anymore info because they refuse to transfer OR give me credit for my work and send me badgering emails about my photos and memorials every time I send them an update. They have even reported me to FAG, which was the last straw. They are the rare exception to my mostly very positive and cooperative experience on FAG. Some people you can work WITH, some you just have to work AROUND.

JC April 25, 2013 at 2:42 pm

The attitude displayed by “How to” is all about “me” (How to) rather than about the deceased. If you don’t want to work with others in a cooperative effort, F*A*G isn’t the site for you.

Sunny April 25, 2013 at 10:20 am

Anyone know how to cancel membership on Findagrave? I’m not going to be doing them anymore and would like my information removed.

Lee April 25, 2013 at 1:08 pm

I don’t see where it says how to do that anywhere or gives you an option to delete your profile. If you go to your profile, you can edit it so that people can’t see your email and can’t leave you messages. I think that they can still send you updates on your memorials by hitting the edit tab on the memorial page.

DPSB May 2, 2013 at 4:13 pm

Post rude things about people. You will immediately have your account made inactive. Nothing will ever come to you again. No one can see it. It will be as if you are dead, pardon the pun.

I hate Find A Grave. I could never get my relative’s memorial pages transferred to me. There are some rude bitches that just can’t give up control.

DPSB May 2, 2013 at 4:10 pm

My experience with Find A Grave is that, for the most part, there are people who post memorials on the website because they want to feel important. They walk around cemeteries and take picture and write down names and dates… they go through public county records and type in memorials and post them there… and if you are a person who is an actual relative of one of those people, you actually have no hope of being in control of your loved-one’s memorial. It is always the property of Find A Grave, and you can be deleted or excluded on a whim of the website. It sucks, and they deserve to be in hell. That’s how I feel about this webiste.

Andrea May 3, 2013 at 10:09 am

Hello all~

Would anyone mind explaining the “details and workings” of FAG? I’ve only used it to look up family members – successfully and it’s been great. I don’t understand the “memorials and the transferring” that I’ve read on these posts. What does SAC stand for? Are the photos not supposed to be used elsewhere? What do the “horders/squatters”?

A few years ago, I requested a photo for my GGG Grandfather’s grave. Just this week a very kind woman emailed me and asked for more details; she also mentioned that she found another person with the same last name and had already took a photo of that grave. He is realated, so I said great! I found the picture she took and uploaded it to ancestry.com In a later email, she told me that I would have to get that memorial transferred to me. Should I have not added it to ancestry.com? I don’t want to step on anyone’s toes… I guess I don’t understand the rules. Please help!


Lee May 3, 2013 at 5:05 pm

The rules/guidelines for FAG are in the FAQ’s–Frequently Asked Questions (home page, lower left corner under Questions and Answers). SAC’s are Suggestions and Corrections. Memorials are the pages with the tombstone photo/info about the deceased. If you open a memorial page that someone else has created, you can’t add to their bio/vital stats or link them to other family members. If you hit the “edit” tab, you can send a message to the person who did create the memorial and ask them to add/correct information or link family members. You can also ask them to transfer the memorial to you to manage. If they do, then you can make changes. The person who created it is still listed as the creator, you are listed as the manager. You cannot delete a memorial that someone else has created. According to the FAQ’s: “Transfer requests should be for direct relatives within four generations. This would be your siblings, parents, grandparents, great-grandparents, children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. ” However, there is nothing to prevent someone from transferring a memorial to anyone, regardless of their relationship to the deceased. And therein lies the issue. You have a whole spectrum of contributors, from those who will transfer no memorials regardless of the relationship to the deceased on one end, to those who will transfer to anyone who asks for the memorial, regardless of whether they are related or not. On the other side of the coin, some people never ask for a transfer, even if it is their own child, while some people expect that any request that they make for transfer to be granted. So there is a lot of room for conflict.

Hoarder/squatters is not an official term and the unofficial definition varies depending on who you talk to. If you read the prior postings on this page, you’ll see a lot of debate on that.

This is what the FAQ’s say about using other peoples’ photos without permission: “ONLY post photos for which YOU hold the copyright (meaning photos you took)!!! The copyright of all photos posted to Find A Grave remains with the original submitter. No use of photos for any other website or personal use is given without prior consent of the original submitter. ”
So to avoid issues, just ask permission before using a photo on ancestry.com, unless they give general permission to anyone to do so in their biography–some people do. You can get to their contributor page by clicking on their name below the photo. And give them credit for the photo. There are lots of people who have stopped contributing/removed their photos for this very reason, which doesn’t help anyone.

Whoever told you that you had to have the memorial transferred to you is incorrect. I would suggest deleting the photo from ancestry and sending the person who took the photo (their name is under the photo–click on it, go to their page, and post a message or email them) a message asking permission to use it.

Andrea May 6, 2013 at 9:28 am

Many thanks for your time! I went back and reread all of the posts on here and I think I understand now. Also, I just went and joined Billion Graves due to you mentioning it.

Robert Yorks May 13, 2013 at 5:36 am

I have just finished reading quite a number of earlier ‘Comments’. I see a common ‘complaint’ about hoarders or people posting memorials on FAG when they are not related to the deceased.
I am a contributor to FAG, both with memorials and with photos. I post memorials both of distant cousins and of non-related people. If anyone wants a memorial transferred to them, I do it gladly. However, I don’t look at ‘hoarders’ or other members as ‘illegally’ posting, but as doing a favor for genealogists and family historians. I am a serious genealogist, working mainly on my family lines, and I have neither the time nor the money to travel the country to locate and document all of my ‘family’ gravesites. The fact that someone, unrelated, has taken the time to document them on FAG, I see as a benefit to me, not as a bad thing, or not as them intruding on my turf.
I ‘give back’, to other genealogists on FAG, by posting what I can from my local cemeteries, and I hope that they see that as a benefit as well, and that they ‘give back’ in the same way.

Lee May 16, 2013 at 7:45 am

I agree with you 100%. I have been so grateful to others who have created memorials for relatives of mine who I was otherwise unable to find. It is really a gift to create these memorials. And I consider it a gift when I create a memorial for someone I don’t know, and like you, I gladly transfer. And if anyone wants to complain about the fact that I have created memorials for people I don’t know, they can save their breath. I create them so that people can find their ancestors and the image of the stone is preserved before it’s too late. And I love to transfer. I do not care about the 4 generation rule. It makes no sense whatsoever to me that I should manage a memorial for someone that I am unrelated to. Like I said, I do it as a gift and to preserve the images. And that is why, more and more, I am working with Billion Graves where there are no “ownership” issues.

The issue comes in when someone creates memorials with minimal or even incorrect info and refuses to make corrections or transfers and then since you are not supposed to duplicate, they can essentially hold that memorial hostage. And sometimes people will make corrections/additions but refuse to add the source and are therefore, by omission, taking credit for your research. Unfortunately, there are people in this world who just enjoy feeling some sort of power or control over other people, no matter how petty. Fortunately, the vast majority of contributors are not like that.

James July 3, 2013 at 5:46 pm

Lee, I usually won’t hold someone to the 4 generation rule if the memorial is for a non-relative. I find it funny that I received a request to transfer OOG (Out of Guidelines) by someone who doesn’t transfer OOG. I went ahead and transferred the memorial because the person was at least related to the individual.

Would be interesting to see how many people Findagrave would lose if they removed the numbers.

I think there should be a a delay in posting for the recently deceased. Too many times I see someone dying and within minutes at least one, if not several, memorials created and attempts to get the famous ones are the worst. The families of the Sandy Hook victims barely had time to start grieving before they were added to Findagrave. If the person is an immediate family member, I can see letting them add a person sooner.

susan May 15, 2013 at 10:05 am

I have used FAG for over 5 years and have entered over 12,000 memorials but have transferred more than 1,000 to others. I have transcribed online lists, added through walking in cemeteries and had others transferred to me.

Now, I am not saying all but some new people come on and want everything that is in their line but while FAG is a good genealogy resource it is a Grave Registration site first.

If people send me links or information for a memorial, if it is not in my family, I will likely transfer to them. But because of the attitudes of some people, I find that I am more and more transferring my memorials that are not family to FAG to maintain. If I have added a headstone photo, filled in the dates, linked if possible to other family and transcribed the headstone, then there is nothing more that I can do.

Lee May 15, 2013 at 7:09 pm

You can transfer to FAG? How do you do that? And what happens if people want to contact the manager of the memorial for updates/transfers?
I’ve never had a rude request for a transfer from anyone. I did get an extremely rude response from someone who had submitted a photo request. I asked them to obtain the plot information (HUGE cemetery, strict limits on the #’s of requests you could make for burial locations). Needless to say, no photo for them! But most people sending updates don’t even ask for the transfer and if they do, they are very polite about it. I always offer to transfer if I have 0 relationship to the deceased. After all, why should I manage it instead of a relative?

susan May 15, 2013 at 8:14 pm

You just need to transfer to #8 like you would with a normal transfer. Then updates/transfers are handled by them in the regular way — do a SAC.

As for photo requests, if there is only a few, I will either go into the cemetery office and ask if there is someone that can get me the information. If not, I will leave the list with them and come back later or give them a stamped self addressed envelope that they can mail it to me.

There are others that want the request from the family, so I usually send a SAC with the email address of the office and ask the person to request the location and add it to the memorial. If they don’t, well they can’t want the photo too much.

The only time I have had any nasty comments is when there were no headstones on about 5 of the persons 8 requests and they comment back to me “Another no headstone, thanks for nothing” like it was my fault.

Lee May 16, 2013 at 5:23 am

Maybe it was the same person, lol. She also said “thanks for nothing,” among other nastiness about how I was too lazy to find the plot myself and just wanted the glory of going out and snapping photos. It was so ridiculous that someone who had come on my page right after to thank me for fulfilling her photo request emailed me about it, upset about what the woman had said. I was the lazy one? Seriously?
This particular cemetery only allows a few requests at a time per person and the sections are huge and the numbering looks like someone tossed a bag full of numbered chips on the floor and said, “ok, this is how we’re going to number this one.” Not to mention that many of the graves don’t actually have a stone or the stone was flush to the ground and is buried. I have literally had to dig them up to photograph them. I eventually stopped going to that cemetery after so many people were too LAZY to obtain the section/plot info.

If there is a source available on-line or at the library, I look up the locations myself. There is one local cemetery that had a sign at the office door saying they charged money for plot location look ups. So I after my experience with trying to get people to get their own plot info, I didn’t even bother sending them messages. If people won’t do it for free, they definitely won’t do it if they have to pay. There was another local cemetery that was going to start charging me for look ups–I used to print up the requests page and drop it off. I don’t go there anymore. Fortunately, most cemeteries I go to aren’t like that, and you can even strike up a friendship with the caretakers.

I still love doing cemetery photography, but for the most part, am doing it via Billion Graves. I can photograph and directly upload over a thousand photos a day and other people can transcribe them. So easy. And no ownership drama. So I’m working my way through my favorite cemeteries and people will be able to find their photos there.

Ron Tipton May 16, 2013 at 8:03 am

I’ve been a Find a Grave member for about five years. I enjoy visiting graveyards and recording that information for the Find a Grave website. However, recently I have notice an increase in competitiveness and proprietary attitude of a few Find a Grave members, which sometimes results in rude behavior. Whenever I receive a rude comment I ignore it and have nothing else to do with that person. I’m not going to let a few selfish and hateful people ruin what is an overall good experience in volunteering for Find a Grave. The same is true in life, ignore the people.

James July 3, 2013 at 6:06 pm

I am also seeing an increase. It’s bad when some Findagravers think it’s their cemetery. Ran across a couple of them. They felt like they were the only ones who should be allowed to take photos or add memorials to certain cemeteries. In at least one case, one of them got a note added to a cemetery claiming it has a fee to look up non-relatives. It doesn’t, but most of the other people don’t know that.

Evonne May 16, 2013 at 12:11 pm

I’ve been around Find a Grave for a number of years, and it’s really a very simple premise. The most important thing you must know about FAG is that it is NOT a genealogical site. The drama of which you speak, I find usually comes from those who insist that it is. The founder of the site conceived it simply as a grave locator data base, never intending it as a supplement to Ancestry.com or any of the other sites that tend to graze freely among the FAG memorials. I’ve never had to deal with said drama personally and I believe that it is in fact minimal, but I do know people who get bent out of shape, often newer people, when the site does not follow their expected genealogical site expectations, not realizing it was never meant to

JC May 17, 2013 at 10:20 am

Evonne, I completely agree with you that false expectations are the leading cause of the so-called drama.

Lee May 16, 2013 at 7:33 pm

It’s interesting that some people insist that FAG is not a genealogical site when there is a very systematic way to enter vital statistics to allow for it to be a searchable database. These vital statistics include place of birth and death, even though that is rarely part of the information on tombstones. There is also the ability to add biographical data. It is rare, indeed, to find biographical data on a tombstone. You can also link relatives. And you can add photos of the deceased. It’s rather like opening a Cold Stone Dairy and saying, “this is only an icecream store.” Ignore all the flavors, the candies, the sprinkles, etc. Just take your vanilla ice cream and get out.”

Also, I find it very hard to swallow that the linking with ancestry.com is a one sided vampiring effort on the part of ancestry with no financial compensation whatsoever to FAG. Genealogy is big big money. It is one of the fastest growing hobby industries in this country. And websites the size of FAG cost $$. The contention that FAG is not getting financial compensation from ancestry.com for direct links to it’s considerable and valuable burial AND genealogical records is simply naive. I can see the motivation for wanting to keep it quiet–volunteers do not want to contribute their time and efforts for free to multimillion dollar corporations. But for them to allow ancestry.com to profit like that while expecting no financial contribution towards their very considerable overhead would truly take the phrase “generous to a fault” to a whole new level.

JC May 17, 2013 at 6:58 am

Lee, Ancestry also links to other sites, like Allen County Public Library. Ancestry calls their feature “Web Search” and it is, in effect, simply a highly specialized search engine. Jim Tipton himself has said there is NO partnership.

JC May 17, 2013 at 10:45 am

“It’s rather like opening a Cold Stone Dairy and saying, “this is only an icecream store.” Ignore all the flavors, the candies, the sprinkles, etc. Just take your vanilla ice cream and get out.”

Although I’m not familiar with Cold Stone Dairy, could it be saying “we wouldn’t have a store if not for the ice cream/dairy products”? There wouldn’t be a F.A.G. if not for the primary purpose of the site (graves registration). The additional features are like the extras that can be added to your ice cream – you don’t have to add a single one but you always start with ice cream.

Daniel May 17, 2013 at 4:51 am

I enjoy being a member of Find A Grave. I gladly transfer memorials that i have made for people I do not know to other family members upon their request. When I joined a couple of years ago a contributor had already created a memorial for my great grandparent’s, but I simply told her how I was related to them and she transferred them to me. That same contributor later volunteered to take pictures of my great grandparents gravestones in a cemetery that isn’t in a very good neighborhood so I am very thankful for that. I have met alot of nice people through the site who kindly leave flowers on relatives that have passed. I am also thankful that it is a free site, and you are not pressured to give any financial support. I think it is a great site for anyone who is intrested in respecting the lives of others who are no longer with us.

Lee May 17, 2013 at 7:28 am

Yes, JC, I, too, have read ancestry.com’s information page on their “Web Search” feature. It also says that if you do not want your website to be included, simply contact them.
There is a difference between partnering with them to set up links between the systems and receiving financial compensation for allowing it to take place. What I am saying is that either FAG is so incredibly generous as to allow ancestry.com to profit from their site with no contribution whatsoever towards their very considerable overhead, or someone is getting a check. The generosity scenario is usually not how things work in today’s world and it would be entirely reasonable for FAG to expect some help with their costs in return for the very considerable benefits to ancestry.com.

JC May 17, 2013 at 8:58 am

Do you remember when Ancestry’s index of F.A.G. first went on-line? I remember the month April was abbreviated to Avr. (French). The index is incomplete missing memorials that were created years ago and have remained the same (not moved to another cemetery, the name has not been changed, etc). Mnay memorials, especially thsoe for women, are missing from Ancestry’s index. To me, these type of things indicate there is no partnership. The companies wiht whom F.A.G. has partnered are allowed to show thumbnails of the photos (from F.A.G.) on their site. Does Ancestry? No. JIm Tipton addressed in the Forums why he allows it. Perhaps if you used them, you’d have a better understanding.

Lee May 17, 2013 at 9:39 am

Yeah, JC, once again, not saying they are partnered. But I may have to find that explanation, even if it means diving into the bullying fest that is the forums. Unless you’d be so kind as to provide a link to the direct quote.

JC May 17, 2013 at 10:10 am

Sorry, I did’nt keep it.
Exactly what bullying do you think goes on in the Forums?

Lee May 17, 2013 at 3:42 pm

From what I saw the one time I went on the forums to look for an answer to a question, people who have been utilizing the site for a long time seemed to feel that they were the self appointed spokespeople for the site. And they were extremely rude about it. Their comments were interspersed by comments from the actual representatives of the site trying to answer questions and keep the rude ones in check. I did not post my question because I did not want to deal with that.

Anyway, I am using the site less and less as I am getting more and more involved with Billion Graves. I am enjoying it, but it wouldn’t be everyone’s cup of tea. You don’t get to control the memorials.

Does anyone know how you can get email notifications of posts to this blog to stop coming to you?

Kerry Scott May 17, 2013 at 3:53 pm

If you want to unsubscribe to future blog posts, there’s a link at the bottom of each new post that allows you to unsubscribe.

If you want to unsubscribe to the comments on this particular blog post, there should be a link at the bottom for that too…but if you’re not seeing it or something isn’t working, you can email me via the Contact Me tab at the top of the screen. Let me know what you need and I’ll find a way to fix it.

I had no idea when I wrote this post that it would still be chugging along Two years later. Someone just posted it to the FAG forum a couple of days ago, which generated a whole new round of comments and emails. It’s wacky.

JC May 17, 2013 at 4:34 pm

So, you decided the forums were bullying based on one visit. What was the topic? The admins are very good at keeping people “in check”. These comments have a fair bit of bullying too…

Glad you’re happy with BillionGraves. I find it sad they have shut out a large part of the population (those who do not have smartphones).

Lee May 17, 2013 at 3:20 pm

It’s like this, if you don’t want people to use it like a genealogy site, then don’t format it like one. Very simple. The creator of the site had total control over the formatting. If he wanted it to only be a graves registry and for people to only consider it a graves registry and only utilize it like a graves registry then it was rather foolish of him to include the added features.

JC May 17, 2013 at 4:30 pm

Odd, I always thought the person who pays the bills gets to decide what their business is/is not. So too a website owner gets to choose what to include/not include and yes, what his site *is* versus what a segment of the users want it to be.

Lee May 17, 2013 at 4:11 pm

Ummm…there’s a “Manage your subscriptions” tab . Clicking it, it gives me the option to unsubscribe to this post or block all notifications. It says that “blocking all notifications should be reserved for cases where someone is signing you up for notifications without your consent.” Then there’s one more choice—you can change your email address.

I just want to stop receiving emails every time someone posts a comment. How do I do that?

Lee May 17, 2013 at 4:49 pm

JC, sure, whatever on all points, I’m sick of debating about it with you. I have tombstones to photograph.
Kerry, so HOW do I stop getting these emails???

Kerry Scott May 17, 2013 at 6:37 pm

I’ll unsubscribe you from future comments manually.

JC May 17, 2013 at 6:40 pm

Good luck to you on BillionGraves, Lee.

bgilpatrick May 24, 2013 at 10:05 am

I was stunned to see that someone has taken photographs of my father’s grave and posted them and his obituary on the site. The obituary contains the names of his living children and minor grandchildren and great grandchildren. But, this is only the beginning of the issue.

The argument seems to be that people lose their rights to privacy when they die, but what about the residual impact to the family? What about common decency and respect to allow us to mourn in our timeframe? Posting these photographs is not about honoring the deceased because a stranger cannot do that. While the argument for posterity increases over time, I think there should be laws to prohibit the public dissemination of such information before a respectable period has passed (25 years?) unless done so by a close family member. I will be urging my legislators to consider.

I do not understand the motivation of the people who do this and have the need to brag about the numbers of memorials they have created and, furthermore, to “argue” over their management. This is about unhealthy control and their need to prove their own importance–not about the stories of our dearly departed loved ones.

In a final note, the photographer who took the photos of my father’s grave had no option but to stand right on top of it to do so based on the angles. What has happened to respecting such hallowed grounds, seriously?

Truly sad. Truly insensitive.

This experience has solidified my decision to be cremated and tossed to the wind.

Donna May 25, 2013 at 12:12 pm

I am so sorry for your loss.

I don’t want to stir things up, but did feel compelled to respond to your post.

I am one of the volunteers for FAG and started documenting the cemetary where my Dad is buried, beginning around the time he died. It helps me in my grieving process. I am heavy into family history and that is partially because of the loss of my father in 2010. I tried to get as much information from him, through his story telling of “the old days” before we lost him. I want to know where I came from, where my ancestors grew up, where they are buried (all over the country) and what their names are. I want my children, grandchildren and great grandchildren, to know who their ancestors are. I am a member of Ancestry also. I have recently signed up with another gravesite recording website that offers GPS coordinates for graves. This will be extremely helpful when I am looking for my ancestors in a cemetery that holds 10,000 plus graves. I am not able to travel all over the country to find headstones and the headstone photographs are so helpful! I have found my son’s g-g-grandfather recently, and thru FAG found additional family members thru information provided on gravesite pictures.

I am not one of the “hoarders” but anytime I go to a cemetery in search of our relatives, I try to photograph as many, if not all, of the headstones that I can. I want to help others find their relatives, not cause emotional upset by any means. I received an email about 6 months ago from a lady who’s relative I had photographed and made a memorial for. She was quite upset that I had posted the picture of her relative’s headstone on the website. I told her I was sorry for her loss and deleted the memorial immediately. We recently traveled 2 1/2 hours in search of pictures. We visited several small country cemeteries and my heart breaks to see how neglected these graves can be. It breaks my heart that no one is taking care of gravesites. If I am in a cemetery photographing, I straighten flowers that have fallen over, pull weeds, etc. to help the appearance of the grave. Anytime on FAG that someone requests that I transfer a memorial, I happily do so. Anyone who asks me to delete a memorial for their relative, again I happily do so.

I do think that strangers can honor a deceased person that they are not related to. That is basically what this weekend, Memorial Day, is about. My utmost respect and honor goes to all of the service men and women who have died for this country and our freedoms. I honor each and every one of the graves I’ve visited, because I expect everyone else to honor my relatives when they visit a cemetery my relatives are buried in. Our great country is what it is today because of the relatives that are buried in our cemeteries all over the world.

I do understand that people grieve differently and some do not want their loved one’s pictures posted. I don’t know the answer to that question. But I don’t think waiting 25 years to post would be a feasible solution. I am interested in finding my family now, and in 25 years, I may not be here or my children may not be interested. Lots of information can be lost in 25 years.

Again, I am sorry for your loss. My intent is not to argue or say who is wrong or who is right, just to tell my point of view.

bgilpatrick May 25, 2013 at 12:34 pm

You are absolutely entitled to your point of view. What you are not entitled to is to tell me how I should feel or apply your values to my situation.

Take pictures of your relatives’ graves and post them all you want. However, it seems we should err on the side of caution, respect and decency when it comes to other people.

As for your argument that you are doing a good deed in helping other people find their relatives, how do you know? How do you know that you are not causing more pain when you interfere in the lives of strangers, as I have pointed out in my situation? You do not know the circumstances of my father’s death and nor do you have a right to dictate how long it should take for me to get over it.

It’s good that you transfer memorials upon request, but very few are doing so according to the many complaints logged on the web. On behalf of myself and my family, thanks so much for pouring salt in the wound.

bgilpatrick May 25, 2013 at 12:42 pm

Donna, just another thought. You say strangers can honor the dead. That seems most relevant when we are doing so for a service or sacrifice or devotion to cause that directly benefitted us. When we do it otherwise without any connection to the person, it seems lame and hallow. That’s the problem I’m having with all of this.

Tired of Being Charlie Brown - Let Memorial Managers FIND THEIR OWN INFORMATION May 27, 2013 at 12:45 pm

If it is not a big deal for a BLOOD relative to have their name on a memorial they are related to or so say the hoarders…then following that logic…it is even LESS of a big deal for a person who is NOT related to that memorial to have THEIR name on it. So transfer it.

Kathy May 28, 2013 at 9:56 am

DONNA… I feel exactly as you do and share your philosophy of transferring memorials on request, etc. People who aren’t happy with Find A Grave don’t have to visit the site. There are so many old grave markers that are becoming more degraded with each passing year… I feel those of us who take photos & post them are doing future generations a great service. I’ve been thanked for the pictures I’ve taken and posted much, much more than I’ve been scolded for taking and posted pictures. Again, my opinion is that those people who aren’t happy with Find A Grave don’t have to visit the site.

Ron Tipton June 11, 2013 at 5:46 pm

I second your agreement with Donna, Kathy.

Ron Tipton June 11, 2013 at 5:52 pm


I agree with you 100%. There are always those few (very rare thank goodness) who attempt to spoil something good like Find a Grave.com. The thousands of volunteers who take photographs and record the memorials are doing nothing more than honoring the deceased and their families. A cemetery is a public display of a memorial to the deceased. Find a Grave.com is no more than the modern day version of a virtual cemetery. For the life of me I can’t understand why anyone would take offense to a memorial being posted on the Internet but there are those who take offense to just about anything. I’ve experienced it myself. I had one request by the daughter of a friend of mine to remove his memorial from the Internet because she said “It was creepy.” Go figure. I honored her request and removed it but if anyone was “creepy” it was her. It takes all kinds.

Thank you for all the work you have done for Find a Grave.com. This is one volunteer who appreciates your hard work.


JC July 2, 2013 at 10:32 am

bgilpatrick, I am also sorry for your loss. My father died 27 years ago and I still miss him terribly.

First, I do not agree with listing the names of survivors. At one time, F.A.G.’s rules allowed it but it was something I chose not to do. That makes me ask “When was the memorial for your father created?” I believe the rule changed in 2010 or 2011, so if the memorial was created prior to the rule change, the memorial manager did nothing wrong, as far as the site’s rules. Of course, you can ask for the bio to be changed, the memorial be transferred to you or even deleted as it is covered by the “family first” policy.

However, I have to disagree with you about law to prevent public dissemination of the info. Didn’t your family want the obituary published? In other words, you wanted public dissemination of the info.

Tired of Being Charlie Brown - Let Memorial Managers FIND THEIR OWN INFORMATION May 27, 2013 at 12:40 pm

I have been a FAG member 2 years. I used to send out hundreds of hard earned AND PAID (though joining other websites costing hundreds and hundreds of dollar) FOR family data to memorials I did not manage. I didn’t understand why there were so much FAG data missing on memorials when I know someone knew that info. IDIOT ME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I got TIRED OF BEING USED so I stopped sending updates. When I post a photo, I get credit- my name is on it. When I send data which is harder to find/get… I get Charlie Brown’ed (used) because Lucy the grave manager takes ALL THE CREDIT for the information on that memorial. It doesn’t say…FAG member XXX gave that information on a memorial “managed” by someone else. So SCREW the memorial managers. Let them use their own blood and sweat and MONEY…to update their own memorials. In other words – YOU MANAGE your own memorial and find the info yourself.

Also, I no longer ask for transfers of memorials unless I am within 4 generations. Why? Because I got TIRED OF BEING CHARLIE BROWN (Used). If you are second fiddle (2nd name on memorial) and you pour your HARD EARNED family research to update that memorial…and are NOT within 4 generations….. then some family member within 4 generations who did NOTHING to find that information…orders you to transfer the memorial to them. Ok..they are closer blood relatives… but what swore me off asking for transfers (if I was not within 4 generations) is that MY NAME AS 2nd BANANA….DISAPPEARS COMPLETELY FROM FAG. I did ALL THE WORK on that memorial and my name DISAPPEARS. Only the 1st person who entered the memorial who did squat except enter what is on a cemetery list or headstone….and the 3rd person transferee name remains on the memorial – leaving BOTH OF THEM WITH TAKING CREDIT FOR my HARD EARNED RESEARCH.

FAG website owner…PRAISE people who enter THOUSANDS Of names from cemetery lists which is a VERY SIMPLE THING TO DO..IDIOT PROOF Really…..by listing TOP PERFORMERS. Yet FAG spits in the face of the the true work horses…those that dig up the data on each of the people named in those memorials ..they are not only not given credit but screwed over royally.

So SCREW every FAG memorial manager because I joined the rest of the masses in NEVER GIVING OUT MY DATA just so you can take the credit and than transfer it to a within 4 generation person to take the credit. DO YOU OWN WORK. Or delete the memorial so I can add it back with MY HARD EARNED (and paid for by joining other websites which costs hundreds of dollars and buying death certificates, etc. ) research.

NOTE: If those grave hoarders deleted every grave they entered from the cemetery lists EASILY FOUND ON LINE – the TRUE relatives would have that memorial back up in seconds.

I used FAG for photos only now. I take photos and request photos. Everyone gets credit for their work on photos because their name is on it. And memorial managers cannot delete the photos and re-enter it and take credit for the photos either like they do for data.

JC July 2, 2013 at 10:41 am

Dear Charlie Brown. Of course you do not have to “share” your information. The memorial will survive without it and, quite frankly, is fulfilling the purpose of the site without it, since F.A.G. is not a genealogy site. The TRUE contributors are those who understand and accept that little fact.

kickstand June 9, 2013 at 7:00 am

Wow … fascinating thread.

So, here’s a question for everyone who is unhappy with Find a Grave: What is the alternative? Where can we go?

I have looked, and I have yet to find an alternative transcription site that has even a tiny fraction of the records that FAG does, at least in my area.

Ron Tipton June 11, 2013 at 5:44 pm

In response to the recent conversation about taking photos of non-relative’s grave sites: I take as many photos as I can whenever I visit a cemetery. I am honoring those grave sites. I don’t understand why anyone would take offense to those photos being posted on the Internet by Find a Grave.com but be that as it may. If someone takes offense and contacts me, I will remove the memorial as I have done once when I was contacted. To me a cemetery is a public display and the Internet is just the modern version. However, there are always those few (aren’t there always) who take offense to just about anything and they will find something to complain about. My advice is don’t let the few spoil a wonderful volunteer effort that is Find a Grave.com.

Daniel August 5, 2013 at 5:43 pm

bgilpatrick, you have a very nasty attitude. Whatever has happened to you to make you this way toward people, who have kindness in their hearts, is sad and makes you a pitiful figure.

I truly feel sorry for you. And worst, you have to live with yourself 24/7. That must be horrible. People like you try to make everyone else as miserable as they are. Not gonna happen, my bitter friend. Not gonna happen.

Daniel August 5, 2013 at 6:10 pm

There is nothing private about death. It is a matter of public record.

Graveyards are open to the public. Anyone can walk in and look at anyone’s grave. How is that any different than seeing it online?

It’s not.

Some people are just walking around looking for something to get offended about.

Ron Tipton August 12, 2013 at 6:58 pm

My feelings exactly. These people who get offended when cemetery memorials are posted online are just looking for something to get offended about. A fellow high school class member of mine has told me “you crossed the line” by posting the memorial of another fellow class member on Find a Grave. What? A cemetery is a matter of public record. Also the Social Security Death Index is a matter of public record. What is it with these people? I do notice that so far the ones who are offend seem to be exclusively women. Maybe it’s a control thing with them. Thankfully, I haven’t received many negative comments but the ones I’ve received have all been from women who are used to giving orders. When their orders aren’t followed without question, they throw a hissy fit. Calm down ladies.

Kerry Scott August 12, 2013 at 7:30 pm

Okay, folks. I don’t know about you, but I think I’ve had my fill of this thread, and I think we’ve reached the point where we’re unlikely to shed new light on…well, anything. I’m going to go ahead and close the comments at this point.

For those of you who have followed this for more than two years via email…well, rock on. Thanks for sticking with it.

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