Data doctors: please don't change Puritan Great Migration (PGM) profiles to match FaG profiles [closed]

+74 votes
While monitoring the PGM activity feed, we noticed that some people-- perhaps data doctors?-- are changing vitals indicating that they are changing them to match dates in Find a Grave memorials.  

PGM does not consider FaG a reliable source.  Therefore, if you're working on FaG-related "suggestions," please do NOT change vitals to match FaG memorials. If you'd like to add a comment to the PGM profile, noting it doesn't match its FaG memorial, that's fine. But the project requires far better sourcing than Find a Grave before changing key data.  Thank you.
closed with the note: Two year old post -- validity still stands, but doesn't really need more comments
in Policy and Style by Jillaine Smith G2G6 Pilot (919k points)
closed by Darlene Athey-Hill

What's the point of project-protecting your pilgrim profiles, if people can poke in and perturb them precipitately?

Add my vote for eliminating the FaG mismatch Suggestion.  smiley

The mis-match suggestion is there for profiles that have "about" "before" or "after" checked for dates or just not selecting anything. FAG IS a source even if it is not a primary source. Therefore it does do some good.

Online family trees are technically sources, too. FaG, like online trees, is user-contributed. The Puritan Great Migration project has no interest in making sure that profiles under its umbrella "match" FaG.

Herbert wrote: "What's the point of project-protecting your pilgrim profiles, if people can poke in and perturb them precipitately?"

Hopefully it slows folks down, makes them pause, encourages them to communicate first. At a minimum, it prevents changes to the parental status.
oh no!  this is distressing!
@ Navarro....this is from 2 years ago, the issue was addressed.
I saw that after I commented - not sure why it popped up in my email,
or perhaps I linked to that old one.
Been offline for a bit, WiFi and computer issues so I am out of
practice - see several changes have come about in my absence!

Thanks Robin
nice you got your computer issues ironed out... good to have you back Navarro...
People seem to have this attitude that once they discover a few incorrect findagrave memorials, that it no longer deserves to be a source. Or the person responsible for a memorial doesn't respond or won't change things.

I have been working on wikitree findagrave suggestions for a year now, and I only add a findagrave memorial to a wikitree profile when someone originally cited findagrave as a source, and I am sure it is the right person with matching dates. I have maybe done 1,000 or more of these missing findagrave memorials, and very rarely (1 out of 100) do I find that the findagrave data is out of whack with other sources. If possible I look for additional sources to add to the profile too because ONE source is never good, no matter what the source is. I never change the dates or locations without looking for additional sources, but here is the rub, sometimes a wikitree profile ONLY has findagrave as a source! All the searching in the world just gives you a gravestone, or worse a findagrave entry without a gravestone. Do we not allow that in wikitree?

So I agree we should always verify with other sources, but to ignore the millions of memorials on findagrave seems like a mistake. Is it any better or worse than the Census data? I see mistakes in Census records all the time, should we not allow Census records? What is next?

And I have made 500+ suggestions to findagrave for changes, connections, and corrections, 95% have been accepted, some very quickly, some automatically. Which means to me that the data is only as good as the people adding the data, which I find no different that wikitree at times. Maybe the findagrave contributors aren't doing the research as much as we do? Who is to judge?
Thanks, Kelly.  Per my comment in this thread two years ago, I volunteer with both WikiTree and Find A Grave, and while I spend far more time on the former site than the latter, I have an abiding affection for both.

My experience with Find A Grave parallels your own.  Many of the contributors there have the same ultimate commitment to accuracy as serious contributors to WikiTree, and will respond to intelligent recommendations for changes when those proposed changes come with clear sourcing and a courteous request.

Yes, it's frustrating to come upon a FAG memorial with no image of an original gravestone that bears a legible inscription, especially if it's accompanied by questionable data.  I think the site suffers peculiarly from criticism precisely because its best offerings are rooted in a dramatic visual record... and when a memorial falls short of dramatic, authoritative visual documentation, it's the more disappointing because our expectations are so high.  That at any rate is my theory for why FAG often seems to take more flak than other sites not based on photographic evidence.

Love it or hate it, Find A Grave is a unique resource, and I'm grateful for its existence... even when it occasionally doesn't live up to my anticipation.
Can't agree more. Thanks for the reply.

4 Answers

+47 votes
Best answer
I'd like to expand this request to not limit it to PGM profiles.  I manage profiles that are much more modern, in which I have deliberately not used dates found at FAG because they are in conflict with other - more reliable - sources and these have occasionally been changed to match the FAG dates - and places, too, I might add.

In one especially flagrant instance, I had used a FAG citation in a research note that pointed out a FAG entry for a different person having the same name.  A member recently changed the birth/death data to put in the dates from that FAG entry for a different person.  This member also added an entry on the FAG record to link it to the WikiTree profile for the different person!

Thank you for saying this, Jillaine.  If I had tried, I would not have been able to find your gracious words to express it and would have ended up being castigated for saying bad things - I'm not paranoid - this has happened to me in the past.
by Gaile Connolly G2G Astronaut (1.2m points)
selected by Jerry Dolman

Agreed! This should really state that "WikiTree does not consider FaG a reliable source."

I agree. I have quit using FAG totally unless they have a picture of a tombstone since I saw the FAG information for a relative of mine that was totally incorrect. I know it was, because I was at the funeral. I wrote the person a nice friendly note stating that I was there and gave them the correct information. I got a really nasty note back saying I didn't know what I was talking about. I tried the FAG correction thing, telling them the same information, that it was my great aunt who I had known all my life, for a few years she even lived with us, who died at 92 years of age, I was at the funeral, and the information was wrong and the person would not change it.  Several years later, the wrong information is still up there and there is no response from anyone. I cannot get it changed. If they are that far off for someone who you can easily find in the social security death index, just imagine what errors exist where there are very few records! The death date they had did not even match her tombstone! No picture of that by the way but I have seen it in person..

I realize that there are a few good and honest people who work hard to make FAG a help for others, just unfortunately, I only know of one that I trust that gives accurate information on my family tree. The dozens of others that I have run across are numbers collectors who just want to have as many listed under their name as they can and never do any research on anyone.
Maybe create a duplicate profile with the correct info?
SJ, I presume you mean to suggest allowing the first profile to remain for a different person, while creating a new profile for C's great aunt, but using the word "duplicate" wouldn't really be descriptive, since the profiles would be for two different people.

The word "duplicate", if used to refer to 2 (or more) profiles for the same person, is a very big no-no here, where we're working so hard to eliminate all the ones that already exist.
C Nichols, totally agree with your statements about some of the Find A Grave managers as I've had the same issue with a person who manages a family grave.  They will not change the incorrect information after being given documents to prove the correct information, and will not turn over management of the grave site inspite of the fact they are not even related to the deceased.  I've found it does no good to file complaints with Find A Grave as they apparently don't care.  I created a duplicate site on Find A Grave with the correct information.
+25 votes
Thank you, Jillaine. I only use FaG if there are no sources at all. I also avoid PGM profiles except for relatively cosmetic changes. PGM profiles should have tighter rules. Actually. all profiles should rake care with FaG, especially those without an image.
by Doug McCallum G2G6 Pilot (543k points)
Without an image they're worth no more than an unsourced tree, useful for clues, nothing more.
Tombstones are not reliable sources either.  Sometimes, like Find a Grave, they're the only source.  My own grandfather has the wrong dates carved on his tombstone, mostly because he didn't know when he was born (I do).  One family apparently didn't get a stone until the dad died, several years after the mother.  I can imagine them saying to themselves, "What year did mom die? 1939, wasn't it?" because that's what they carved in the stone, even though I have definitive proof that she died in 1938.
Doug, the quality of your work is strong. Don't feel you have to avoid PGM profiles.

To add to J. Crook re: tombstones: check to see if the tombstone/gravestone is contemporary to the time of the person's death.

Several years ago, someone based their claim about an ancestor's birth based on a gravestone/memorial that was erected 200+ years after the person had died.
Nothing is foolproof. I have a birth certificate for a girl who was registered as a boy. (Wasn't a physical mistake as she grew up and had children). eventually they got it sorted. Just have to keep adding the sources (primary if poss) and we'll probably get closer to the truth. An unsourced FAG memorial could be the absolute truth but objectively less reliable than a birth certificate. (It's not illegal to put false info on a grave). Not sure an exact date of birth is that important for what we are attempting. Just keep adding the sources.
My great grandfather's death certificate was pretty much all wrong (except for death date). His tombstone had correct for both.  The death certificate was off by more than 30 years (had his last marriage date not birth), had the wrong parents and wrong birth location.

Thanks for the positive comment on my work, Jillaine. Its getting better but, like most genealogists, I'm not satisfied yet.
One situation I've laughed about is the way another member treated sources on the profiles for a great-grandfather's brothers who had died young. In a book he published, my great-grandfather wrote that he had erected the gravestones for his deceased brothers. That tells me that the gravestones were not contemporary with the brothers' deaths, and that my great-grandfather was the authority for the dates on the gravestones. Another member had annotated the profiles to identify photos of the gravestones as a primary source and my great-grandfather's publication as a less reliable secondary source, but in fact the information source (my great grandfather) was one and the same. I think this situation -- that is, a family member creating a memorial stone some time after the person died -- is more common than we like to think.
I meant to add about gravestones being contemporary with the death. The stone for one of my 3 greats grandfathers was erected, I believe, in the 1950s to replace the wooden marker that was deterioration, When it was put up they added text to say that he had been a Captain in the Black Watch. Well, people now use that as proof that he was. Turns out, he wasn't. He mustered out as a private and his wife filed for a widows pension stating he had been a private.  He died about 1824. When they put the new stone up for him, they left the wooden one for his wife.

I was told that the same people who put the stone up wanted to correct the spelling of the McCallum stones to all use Mac.The first trace of that spelling was about 100 years after the first one settled in the area. There are all types of bizarre things done with gravestones.
+39 votes
It would be wonderful if Find a Grave errors could be removed from the data doctors suggestion reports.
by J. Crook G2G6 Pilot (231k points)
I wish that it could be taken away as well. I get stupid errors like when the listing is something like 45,432,874 on the profile and it links it as an error for FAG memorial 45. Plus these errors pop up when I source other people's Fag's in the profiles like when I am putting in burial source for a child or spouse. Granted there are some legitimate errors, but it really is only a clue source at best, especially if no tombstone picture is posted. Unfortunately there are a lot who go for speed and not accuracy. The bot sometimes messes it up as well.
Adding my voice to the wish that FaG errors were removed entirely.

I believe we've asked for this before. It's never been clear to me why those who decided to include it feel it's necessary.
If someone is counting votes on this, please add mine to removing FAG discrepancies from the error/suggestion reports.
This should really be separated as a new proposal in its own thread. You have my support and vote!
You have my vote to eliminate FaG "suggestions".  I do appreciate FaG for more recent (not the GPM era) photos & information that I wouldn't be able to travel to photograph.  But there are just too many "suggestions" generated to track down, I think time would be better-spent sourcing unsourced profiles with good documentation.

If you are deliberately putting someone else's memorial in a profile for reference concerning children, spouse, etc we have a template for that.

{{FindAGrave|######|sameas=no}} ignores only that one instance to FAG and is used if you link to a different person's memorial than the person on the profile.

{FindAGrave|######|sameas=yes}} is when the memorial and profile person match. This will tell the bot to disregard any and all other references to FAG anywhere on the profile.

(###### is the actual memorial number)

+24 votes
I have been recently working on the family of a famous Ohio person and have found that overwhelmingly the dates on FAG do not match State records. I feel it is time to totally eliminate the "suggestions" that try and match FAG information to our site, I have found that most of the time it is FAG that is wrong so why do we waste our time?
by Dale Byers G2G Astronaut (1.7m points)

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