Not a Question but rather a comment about Find A Grave. [closed]

+32 votes
I know that the Style Guide says that Find A Grave is not a very good source and after finding some incorrect information on some family members of mine on there I decided to take action to fix these problems. The result is going to mean a slight reduction of my work on here but I will be improving the profiles on here as well as my family tree on along with improving the profiles I can on Find A Grave. I think that in the end working on two of the sites that a lot of us use for research and sources will only improve not only those sites but in the end it will also be an improvement to WikiTree. If you see a Find A Grave memorial either created by or maintained by kc8lao then that is me and I am doing my best to make those memorials the best that I can. My first effort can be found here
closed with the note: Too many negative people commenting.
in The Tree House by Dale Byers G2G Astronaut (1.4m points)
closed by Dale Byers
I love using Find A Grave as a source, and am an active contributor as well. Whenever I come across errors, I send in a correction.  If I have information that has not been entered, I'll add it. It's pretty simple.

I really don't think Find A Grave is any worse or any better than tons of other sources, including government documents and censuses, as far as errors go.  It often gives me clues or information I wouldn't otherwise have.

Keep up the good work, Dale.
I don't care what site you talk about the quality is only as good as the people who actually work on entering the data, and that includes WikiTree.
I am also an active findagrave user, and it's definitely a jumping off point source. I don't take anything on there as gospel unless I can back it up with data sources.  I have evolved in what I post on there, now citing sources so any family members can do follow ups. (Same as I did on ancestry.) I learned the hard way!

Thank you, Dale, for taking on the thankless task of fixing what's broken in the wide world of online genealogy!

It can be a tough job tracking down reliable info, especially online. That's why I like it when our best and brightest step up to tackle the job.

Just don't get a swelled head from all my praise!!

Lindy, I don't think of myself as the best or the brightest, but I am willing to try and do what I can to help.

2 Answers

+11 votes
I know a lot of times the people working on FindAGrave just copy biographies they find online which is why I tend to try only using FAG as a source for information on the gravestones.  Of course that can include b,d,m and spouse as well as occasionally childrens names. And, of course, the place buried is almost always correct.
by Dave Dardinger G2G6 Pilot (407k points)

I agree. But the place buried may not always be correct, either. Two examples:

  • I have one pair of ancestors (died in 1800s) with gravestone photos on FindAGrave that are stated to be in what I think is the wrong cemetery (it's in a county where neither of them ever lived). I think someone got my ancestor confused with another man who had the same name who lived in that other county, and who is very likely buried in that cemetery.
  • Sometimes memorial stones are erected in a graveyard where the deceased isn't actually buried.
Dave, That is one of the reasons I volunteered to help there. If I only improve the accuracy of those in my own family line I will be improving the quality of not only Find A Grave but also making improvements to the profiles on WikiTree that do use them as sources. In the memorial that the link leads to I added a birth date and location, death location, biography, Maiden Name, and corrected the cemetery location all based on other sources that can be found on her WikiTree profile. The biography still needs some work but at least the facts are accurate now.

The original memorial was created from the original burial record but did not take note of the fact that she was moved about 1 year after her death to another cemetery, so in this case there was only a death date, age estimate  and she was listed in the wrong cemetery.
The more FindAGrave deviates from its implied goal (finding and documenting graves) and gets into the business of creating "memorials" even for people whose death dates and graves are unknown (and dare I say derived from fabricated genealogies) the less useful it becomes as a source. Every effort to improve that site should be welcome but my question is how much good it does when at the same time no effort is made to check the creation of these bogus "memorials."
There are two types of people when it comes to trying to improve any site, Those who complain about how bad things are and those who try to help make them better. From what I have seen of what you do here Helmut I have a pretty good Idea which type you are. I choose not to continue and belittle any site but rather do what I can to fix the problems. Find A Grave is free to join and can be a good site when the volunteers choose to do good work. In my case the records they used when creating the "memorials", which are much like WikiTree profiles, had some notes that the original volunteer did not see. It is very easy for another to correct but when corrections are needed. Also a lot has changed here on WikiTree since I started using it, change is only bad when others do not use it.

I could show you a picture of a headstone that has incorrect dates so just going by the information found in cemetery records or on head stones will not improve the accuracy of the information only good sources will.
I would have to agree with Helmut on this.

As others, I find findagrave a useful place to start, but that's it.

Honestly, I don't understand the motivation to update all these various sites. Why have family trees in multiple web sites? Why have gravestone / marker pictures in multiple sites?

This is what I like about WikiTree, is that it can all be done here, in one place.

Yes, it takes more effort to actually do the work here. But I like the focus on a single tree, the collaboration involved, and the idea of continuous improvement towards greater, and greater accuracy over time.

I would much rather spend my limited time and energy in ONE place that has the ability to do everything. I would rather we campaign to get the people who use Find A Grave to come here, and upload pictures here!

And if those people like having memorials, well then figure out an easy way to make memorials here.

It's better if we can get more people to collaborate in one place, than to split time and energy and collaborate in multiple places, with duplicated information.
Eric, let me ask you one question. Where on WikiTree and only on WikiTree can you search for any kind of record? The answer is you can't. To find anything that can be used as a source you must look outside WikiTree. WikiTree is a repository for what you, I, and others add here and has no records of Census or Birth or Death except that which you put into the profiles you work on here that you find in other places. That means that without those of us who do volunteer for Find A Grave,, and other sites finding and adding sources would be much more work and much more expensive. The only exception to this is the Cemetery project, but even then in the case of wrong dates on the head stones or without access to the actual records you could not know if an error was made so I know at least 2 profiles on here that I manage would then have errors in them. We need those other sites more than they need us and our accuracy is only as good as the information that we can get from outside WikiTree. The biggest problem with the way you and Helmut are thinking about this is Find a grave calls the records Memorials and on WikiTree they are called Profiles, just different names for the same thing, a place for facts, pictures, and a biography for a persons life. Yes the Cemetery project could do the same thing but until they reach over 143 million records worldwide they could not even begin to compete.
I agree with Dave. Findagrave is a good point of info, but it may not be correct; however it is important into as it can be compared with official records at the courthouse. Speaking of errors, the Census records are famous for having incorrect data. I've traced the same person for 3-4 censuses and find varying ages between them. The good point is, even bad/incorrect data gives a location for that data and from ther if can be investigated via offical local records, ie birth record, death certificate, marriages.

Ted Clark
I am not commenting on actual grave sites. I am worried about the proliferation of "memorials" without graves like this:

Ted, every site has errors, including WikiTree

Helmut, a memorial on Find A Grave is the same as a profile on WikiTree and  some profiles on here are not even as good as your example from Find A Grave, with No dates, locations, or connections to relatives, so by your standards then WikiTree is not a good site. And before you start again it is easier to correct the information on a Find A Grave memorial than it is to correct a WikiTree profile.

To everyone If you don't like ANY site, don't use it but you should not mock or try to discourage anyone from trying to help make the information more accurate and correct. Those who do have a negative attitude and will be ignored by me in this and all future posts.

If you are not part of the solution then you are part of the problem.


If I would find any incorrect information about my ancestors on any website I would certainly want to correct that information. If you perceived my comments as mocking or otherwise disparaging in any way I apologize for my poor wording giving you that impression.

However, I do hope that recent changes for pre-1500 profiles on WikiTree will prevent more fabricated genealogies like the one I referenced and allow us to slowly catch up with all those fictions. And I certainly hope that other websites will find a way to do the same.
My point is that Instead of talking about how I would like others to improve things when I stated that I was going to actually do the work you did nothing but put down that site and by inference me. As I said if you do not want to help, fine, but why try to convince others that their effort is not appreciated? As for the recent changes for pre-1500 profiles, I will not even try to get that badge and in fact no longer work on pre-1700 profiles because I feel that those restrictions make anything I could do worthless but I do feel that if you want to work on them you should.
Exactly, Dale.  That is why I use Ancestry as my primary tree.  I can find many original sources right on Ancestry using the little "leaf" hints.  I don't generally use other's family trees or the suspect Millineum files, etc. but the original town, state and Federal records are instant success links.

I have 'partnered' with a cousin to be able to afford the paid Ancestry account and my research time has been cut ten-fold.  And then when I have my original sources I then copy them into the correct profile on WikiTree.

Dave Mason
+9 votes
Dale ,I think this is a good idea. I know part of my family has very incorrect info recorded on that site.
by Anonymous Roach G2G6 Pilot (184k points)

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