Findagrave needs some empathy

A few days ago I wrote about how Findagrave had taken credit away from me, even though I added some close family graves first. Instead, they reversed their own algorithm in order to give credit to one of those people who compete with each other to see who can add the most memorials. A stranger.

Now I see an article by Judy Russell (“the Legal Genealogist”) suggesting oh so gently that Findagrave might want to reconsider the way they allow (I would say “encourage”) strangers to add memorials even while the family is in deepest mourning.

This struck a cord with me because this is what happened to me when my sister died. We weren’t even back from the funeral before a stranger had created her memorial on Findagrave, and added her obit, and picture.

It doesn’t take much for me to see that my sensitivity to having credit for my step-mother’s and step-brother’s memorials taken away from me is just that much worse because some other stranger grabbed the credit for my sister’s memorial.

Truly, the folks at Findagrave aren’t thinking about the human connection. They are working to reward the volunteers who churn out the volume and create the money. Which is really what matters.

More Information

  • Judy G. Russell, A modest proposal (Aug 5, 2019), The Legal Genealogist, visited Aug. 5, 2019.

Findagrave Shenanigans

I’m increasingly convinced Findagrave is moving toward a naked power grab of our data. I learned this week that they have no scruples about taking away “added by” credit and giving it to someone else. Dates don’t actually matter.

The point of altering the facts seems to be rewarding the people who add masses of information at the expense of those who just add a few memorials here and there.

Here’s what happened to me. There’s a cemetery plot that has three graves in it—my step-mother and two step-brothers. The three of them share one grave marker. I added two of the memorials, then months later another user added the same memorials. Then on the third grave, she added the memorial first, and I added a duplicate without noticing.

There is no doubt that they were duplicates. This other user even added her photos to the memorials I had created.

When I requested a merge, Findagrave reversed the order of the merges so the other user got credit for adding them. Why? According to their email, it was because I had edited the memorials I created. Presumably they don’t like people adding things like obituaries and relationships.

I complained. And they came back saying essentially, “No, ignore our email. That wasn’t the reason.” The real reason, they said, was because of some confusion (on both our parts) whether the graves are in the main cemetery or in one of the sub-cemeteries. Since the other user added two of her three in the sub-cemetery she wins the credit. I had all three correct now but I had originally added them to the main cemetery so it didn’t count.

The tone deafness here is staggering. I don’t want to actually name names here since the other user didn’t do anything wrong. She’s added masses of memorials. One might wonder why she didn’t notice that the same marker was probably not located in two different cemeteries, but she didn’t. Findagrave did, though, and used it as a pretext to take my family memorials away from me and give them to a stranger.

The other user was exceptionally kind, as ordinary users often are. She transferred management of the memorials to me. And she still keeps photo credit. Nothing she can do about Findagrave giving her credit for adding the memorials.

I think the one thing I can do now that I’m aware I can lose credit for my work at any time is focus my efforts on Billiongraves instead.

Copyright Problems

One of the truly alarming things in life is stumbling across something you’ve written that has been re-published by someone else without attribution.

I run into that all the time because I’ve been doing this so long.

A while back, I had someone contact me through Findagrave.com to suggest I add a biography to Katharine (Helvey) Roberson. The text they gave me was word-for-word identical to something I wrote a dozen years ago. Errors and all. I haven’t responded yet. I just can’t figure out how to say it politely.

I’ve been working on scanning my old paper files. The other day I ran across a manuscript history of the Howery family by Shirley Danz. She carefully and considerately cites Virginia Howery throughout the document. Except that it was my research. I sent it to Virginia. Virginia sent it to Shirley. It didn’t have my name on it so Shirley gave the credit to Virginia. Future generations will never know it was mine. It’s discouraging.

But for shear ballsy grabbing, I don’t suppose I could ever beat my husband’s experience. His entire gedcom was downloaded and republished by Steve Graber without even changing the name (Statik). Now, because of the interchange between Geni and MyHeritage, there are hundreds of Mennonite profiles on Geni that cite Steve as the source for the Mennonite obituaries originally extracted by Tim. I’m guessing Steve doesn’t mind taking credit for the body of work he didn’t actually do.

On one hand, I would like to see that my lifetime of work survives me and that future genealogists are able to build on it. But on the other hand, I would like to get credit for the work I’ve done, and perhaps also not get blamed for the mistakes of others.

Update May 13, 2020: As requested, I added that biography of Katharine Roberson to her Findagrave entry a few days ago. Slightly edited.