Updated July 12, 2019: added some bolding, Tags, a few additional Categories, among other things.
I don’t know when BillionGraves (BG) added the Famous feature, but I stumbled across when I was looking at a famous person. They were military and I saw the option to add them as Famous by linking to their Wikipedia page. This is different than how Find-A-Grave does Famous, and in my opinion, a better way as it doesn’t require approval to mark a record as Famous.
Once you add the Wikipedia link to the BG record and save it, it generates something like this: https://billiongraves.com/grave/Larry-Fine/27762814 (you will have to log-in to see details). At the top right, it will show Famous Record. When you scroll down or click on the Famous Record in the upper right, it should show Life Story with a short synopsis of the beginning of his Wikipedia page. I chose Larry Fine for a reason as I’m in the middle of a blog post about the Three Stooges, waiting on one last piece of information that may take a while to receive. For me, this is a far easier process to add somebody and it uses a standard where the person needs a Wikipedia article for it to a person to be marked as Famous. Also, BillionGraves allows any member to edit a record so it doesn’t have to go through some approval process to get
With Find-A-Grave, you have to do several things. First, you have click Yes when you add a person to Find-A-Grave; the default is No:
Is this a famous person?Yes No
Next, you or somebody has to submit a bio that meets very strict and specific guidelines. Among other things, there are only three chances (doesn’t matter if you submit it or somebody else does) to submit a bio and if they reject all three, the initial Famous tag gets removed. The bio has to be one paragraph long; it can be a long paragraph (up to the limit of the Bio field), but if you submit it formatted as two or more paragraphs, it’s going to get denied. As part of the bio, the first word or phrase should be what field(s) they were Famous in. For example, https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/1581/louise-brooks, Louise’s bio starts with
Silent Film Actress, Flapper-girl Model, Author.
which is a bit more than most Famous memorials have listed for categories. You can add somebody as Famous without a Bio, but the memorial is unlikely to stay Famous without a Bio although the admins sometimes make exceptions. For example, if a major celebrity, politician, etc., gets added without a Bio, they will probably stay as Famous. In general, some Contributors who add recently deceased Famous to Find-A-Grave tend to already have a Bio ready even if it’s a modified copy/paste of a Wikipedia article or press release. You can also temporarily add a Bio using boilerplate language, but the Bio needs to be in your own words. Using part, or all, of a Wikipedia article or other online source has been done, but it is something you really should avoid for various reasons, including getting sued for copyright violation.
You should also avoid adding URLs or website addresses in the Bio as Find-A-Grave has a strict rule against including them and they started cracking down July 2018 on URLs that link outside of Find-A-Grave. You can use a hyperlink to link to another Find-A-Grave memorial, but that’s the extent of what you are supposed to do when it comes to using hyperlinks on Find-A-Grave.
Also, if the admin who reviews the Famous bio decides the person isn’t famous enough, they can deny the request. Considering how many not so famous people are listed as Famous on Find-A-Grave and how quite a few more famous people aren’t listed as Famous, it’s an imperfect system. I won’t say everybody who is Famous on Find-A-Grave has a Wikipedia page, but I would be surprised if too many fall in this category of having a Wikipedia article for those who really aren’t famous. A good example is a former mayor of Wichita; he is still alive, but he has a short Wikipedia page. I did check on some other mayors who aren’t listed as Famous on Find-A-Grave and they don’t have a Wikipedia page.
One downside to BG‘s way is the inability to make a correction to the Wikipedia link if somebody adds a link to a photo on the Wikipedia page or to the wrong person. You can contact BG Support and they are usually pretty fast at correcting it. Overall, I prefer how BillionGraves handles Famous as it uses a standard (Wikipedia article) and doesn’t rely on a judgement call. The odds are that Wikipedia is going to be around for a while should be a good reason for Find-A-Grave to do a similar thing. I am not a fan of the one paragraph rule Find-A-Grave has for its Famous bios. Some of them are very long.