Find A Grave citation replaced by a template

+11 votes
Lately, I've come across several profiles where someone replaced a Family Search Citation for Find a Grave with the Template for Find a Grave.  

Is it not still the case that, if a citation is available, it is preferable to a template?  I use a citation and I add the template so I can go directly to the memorial.  But I only use the template by itself if the Find a Grave profile has yet to be indexed by Family Search.  

Has this been officially changed somewhere?
in Policy and Style by J. Crook G2G6 Pilot (232k points)
Their citation can be further be improved by replacing the generic with the url of the memorial page to give you a direct link.Not sure why they did not format it this way as the link embedded in the memorial number goes away once you cut and paste the citation.
I do add the template to their citation.  But some people are replacing my citations with just the template.  So I go back in and add the complete citation, along with the template.  I'm just not sure why people are doing this, so it's encouraging that others also still use the citation.

4 Answers

+12 votes
Best answer

The FindAGrave template is an external link template and is only meant to replace the generic link to the Findagrave homepage that is in the FamilySearch citation. Alternately, it can be added to the citation without replacing the generic link (that's my preferred method).

The template by itself is not a proper citation. Also, it is not required.

Any member who is deleting the citation and replacing it with only the template should be informed that doing so is incorrect procedure.


by Lindy Jones G2G6 Pilot (260k points)
selected by Steven Harris
I'm glad this is true.
Is this policy documented somewhere in the Help Pages ? Then we'd have something to point to when we contact people making these changes?
have to say I am now
confused.  So agree a help page would be useful.

Here is an example of a citation which has been changed only today by a data doctor. Several others have been changed by the same DD  in a similar way. (Citation hopefully anonymised)
"Find A Grave, database and images (********/Joe Bloggs : accessed 17 May 2018), memorial page for name here  (1882–1935), Find A Grave Memorial no. 142277596, citing Webster Cemetery, Franklin County, Maine, USA ; Maintained by H.Cook~Maine (contributor 47312104) .

To a simple link******
 The first is a very full citation, the second uninformative.  

Another citation has been changed from" Joe Bloggs on {{FindAGrave|**********}} 19:20, 17 May 2018 (UTC) to "**********

I suspect that the DD is also confused .

What exactly should the citation look like?
While I don't like the format of the Find a Grave citation at all, it is much better than just using the Find a Grave template alone, or just using a link.  This help page was linked to earlier:

I like what Eddie King says--he just does it his way and ignores all the requirements.  But probably only Eddie King can get away with that.
Not even Eddie is exempt :)

Jillaine, I think this is all covered in Help:Links to FindAGrave, or maybe it just my interpretation of it?

Basic usage is to use the template by itself to create a link to the memorial from a profile; a type of "you can find more info over here" type of link.

Then there is a way to use it within a source citation, which is to use the full FAG source and replace the "Find A Grave Memorial no. XXXX" with "{{FindAGrave|XXXX}}" to provide a formatted link within the FAG provided citation.

So it flows from a logical standpoint that if a user is using a full source citation (citing FAG), and that source citation is being replaced with a standard link (or modified in any other way that diminishes the citation - then that is incorrect and should not be happening.

Thanks, Steve.  That help page did not exist, I think, at the time this thread was first posted.  Glad to know we have something specific to rely on. I will admit I have not been doing this correctly.
The page was still new, but it was up for a few months before this post. Also, we need to close some of these old threads! One new comment and a whole feed opens back up! That's my fault for not looking at the dates!
+8 votes

Yes a citation should be  preferred but why are you not then using the Citation provided by Find A Grave itself instead of citing an index? I must admit I usually just use the template for Find A Grave as that is what the Wikitree X Chrome extension creates when I add information to the various profiles. 

It is always better to have a direct citation rather than one that can leave you running through hoops to actually check the information. 

by Darren Kellett G2G6 Pilot (465k points)
I use the citation, but I add the template --this part {{FindAGrave|number of memorial}} because the Family Search citation doesn't lead one directly to the memorial.  But using the template without the citation--that I find annoying (unless I have no choice).

What Darren was trying to impart is that Find A Grave now provides a citation that leads directly back to the memorial.  You can just copy/paste their citation and then you no longer need to provide the FamilySearch citation and the template.

At Find A Grave, right next to the memorial number is a link called "View Source."  Click on that baby and you find:

Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed 22 May 2018), memorial page for Andrew J Ream (30 Jun 1828–9 Apr 1902), Find A Grave Memorial no. 34714437, citing Ream-Reddig Family Cemetery, Reamstown, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, USA ; Maintained by Dana Dancy (contributor 46998072) .                        

The only thing bad is the misplacement of the period at the end. 

Okay.  Well, that's nice.  I won't be using those personally.  I honestly do not care who created or maintains a Find a Grave profile.  I say this as someone who has created over 3000 profiles.  I do not consider that an important part of the citation.
I've seen a few of those.  So are people now going to go in and change my Family Search citation to a Find a Grave citation?  Because that's happened a couple of times too.
The Family Search URL only goes to their page in their database.... I just take the memorial number and open up FaG and get the full citation from the memorial page.

Roy - what a lot of people do (and what I do) is edit the Family Search citation where the memorial number is given to be in WikiTree's FindAGrave template. In the following examples, "citing record ID 138854543, Find a Grave." is replaced with "citing record {{FindAGrave|138854543}}."

"Find A Grave Index," database, FamilySearch ( : 15 December 2015), Thomas J Watkins, 1858; Burial, Alexandria, Alexandria City, Virginia, United States of America, Christ Church Episcopal Cemetery; citing record ID 138854543, Find a Grave.


"Find A Grave Index," database, FamilySearch ( : 15 December 2015), Thomas J Watkins, 1858; Burial, Alexandria, Alexandria City, Virginia, United States of America, Christ Church Episcopal Cemetery; citing record Find A Grave: Memorial #138854543.

I prefer this because the Family Search record may lead to other reliably sourced information. Find A Grave memorials with no pictures/no source citations are not a reliable source. It also does not include additional information - for example, Thomas Watkins' FindAGrave-generated citation includes his birth date from the memorial:

Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed 30 September 2019), memorial page for Thomas Josiah Watkins (10 Aug 1814–24 Oct 1858), Find A Grave Memorial no. 138854543, citing Christ Church Episcopal Cemetery, Alexandria, Alexandria City, Virginia, USA ; Maintained by Brian S (contributor 48354477) .
In this case, the dates are correct, according to other sources cited on his WikiTree profile, but they are NOT sourced in the FindAGrave memorial, which says:

Age 44 born in Fairfax County

Gravesite Details Date of birth and death not clear
This is my personal opinion, but I would prefer to have the citation from the original website (like FaG), over a link to another website ( that is repeating what is on the original website.

I don't care how much "other" data might be on the derivative site (like Family Search or Ancestry), I want to see the original citation with a followable link that takes me to that source. When I do them, I try to use the URL that takes me to page with a link to the actual picture if possible.

Besides, I have already put the link to that person's Family Search, or Stetson Kindred (or any other master source  site) down below the references.

In any case, in yhour last paragraph, I would not use FaG to determine DOB or DOD unless I could clearly read the gravestone picture. In most cases I am using the other sources for dates, FaG is just a backup.

+18 votes
Using FamilySearch record for FindAGrave is bad for another reason. Records were imported to FS at certain point. and they don't update them. So if FAG memorial is changed, merged or deleted, FS doesn't know that. I saw a few cases, where FAG had updated dates and FS didn't.

So you should not cite FamilySearch records for FindAGrave. You should cite the FindAGrave directly.
by Aleš Trtnik G2G6 Pilot (822k points)
What would be great is to have the WikiTree FAG template output more of a citation format, that includes the link to the memorial, instead of just a simple link.
Actually, Ales, that's ridiculous.  I should not cite Find a grave directly because their citation format is inferior to that of Family Search.  But I'm certain that you guys will soon make this mandatory, since you like it better that way.
Just because FamilySearch has nicer citation, it shouldn't be used instead of FindAGrave one. That citation can be out of date or link to nonexisting memorial. Especially you shouldn't set dates and locations based on data on FamilySearch Record for FAG memorial. You should always check the memorial itself.
Ales, every single location on the Internet is to be cited with the date it was accessed.  That is standard citation procedure.  I do not have to use a pathetic citation structure, such as those provided by Ancestry, or the recent ones I've seen provided by FindAGrave.  If it's a non-existent memorial, your suggestion report will catch it, or I'll notice next time I visit FindAGrave.  Any FindAGrave memorial can be deleted by anyone who manages it at any time.  I could go in this week and delete all 3,800 that I've added myself (not that I'm going to).  Any citation can become inaccurate; however, by providing the date you accessed the website, you're stating, it was accurate on that date.  Citation formats, such as MLA actually prefer that you link to the general website, because it is less likely to change with time.  Academic articles are given a DOI--a static web identifier which does not change--but they are the exceptions to the rule.  There's no reason for Wikitree to ignore established precedent in citation.  For example, the Purdue OWL examples MLA's position on the use of URLs on this page:  Family Search includes the date accessed as part of the citation, so I will continue to use it as a preferred citation format.

What would be great is to have the WikiTree FAG template output more of a citation format, that includes the link to the memorial, instead of just a simple link.

Eric, see Help:Links to FindAGrave. What you are describing is a Source Template, and they are not approved.

In general, the FindAGrave template by itself is not a source, but rather a "here is more information" link.

And nowhere have I seen a good explanation why "Source Templates" are not approved. The DAR template is only allowed in the Sources section. Wouldn't that make it a "Source Template"? What is it about a template in the Sources section that makes it bad? Why is it elsewhere are they ok? Why is a template that produces a citation text suddenly bad?

This is what bothers me, are these things that hang around that don't get adequately explained, or fixed.
+5 votes
I use the Citation provided by Find A Grave, but I replace the line "Find A Grave Memorial No. ####" with the template "{{FindAGrave|####}}" which give the researcher a direct link to the Find A Grave memorial.

WikiTree came up with the template because Find A Grave changed some of their URLs - something that broke the link and led to confusion. Using the template allows one change in the master files and everyone's links are fixed.

Now, I do care who maintains the grave record on FAG because if I have a deeper question there is a link on the citation where I can go without opening FAG. Of course, if you don't want that information you can clip it out of the FAG citation.

by Roy Lamberton G2G6 Mach 8 (84.6k points)

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