How Ancestry.com’s Find A Grave Encourages Bad Actors and Bad Data – Medium/OneZero – Tombstones Tuesdays August 6, 2019

I chose this article by Katie Reid as this week’s Tombstone Tuesdays post.

I saw this recently on OneZero/Medium – https://onezero.medium.com/the-digital-undertakers-inside-the-obsessive-community-racing-to-put-the-dead-online-f3199147e968 and I think it makes some great points in relation to my re-blog of Judy G. Russell’s A modest proposal — The Legal Genealogist post (original post: https://www.legalgenealogist.com/2019/08/05/a-modest-proposal/). As I mentioned in this post, Pet Peeve Rant Warning – Find-A-Grave Plopping and Burial Unknowns/Cremated August 1, 2019, you shouldn’t blindly trust obituaries and death certificates when it comes to cemetery information.

The sub-title by Katie Reid of OneZero sums it up well

By gamifying memorials, FindAGrave.com became a Wild West for chronicling the dead

While many Find-A-Gravers don’t fit in this category, a large enough group does to give the rest of a bad name:

Call them the digital undertakers — a motley crew of Find A Grave superusers who have made a competition out of racking up as many memorials as possible. Some of the users I spoke with race to create memorials for the deceased within hours of their death, while others embark on international scavenger hunts to find and photograph graveyards not yet documented, scrape data from funeral home websites, or even post memorials for individuals not yet deceased. Still others have stepped into Find A Grave’s moderation void, taking it on themselves to ensure that members are using the site according to their own standards — and meting out consequences to those who aren’t. These volunteers operate with little corporate oversight or guidance in deciding how our dead ones will be documented. Online, the land of the dead can feel like the Wild West.

This is a recipe for disaster – John has added over 3.2 million memorials to Find-A-Grave; accepting without checking is not the way to go:

John recently began a new property management business, and he told me that he doesn’t have the bandwidth to fact check the edits he gets. “I just accept 100 [requests] at a time — I don’t know what’s right and what’s correct and what’s not,” he said. He doesn’t seem overly concerned about inaccuracies. “I think most people… they’re not in there to muddy things up or make it unclear. They want accuracy.”

In addition, there are plenty of people who want you to make changes that aren’t valid. For example, some of the edits I have declined or not added involved linking children to parents when it was obvious the child was born before the parents or the parents would have been much too young as in infant children. I do my best to verify and in case I can’t verify, I may add the information in the Bio section and note claims by different people.

Another Contributor, RosalieAnn, makes a great point:

“Find A Grave is a place to record where people are buried or what happened to their physical body after they died,” she said. “If you can’t do that, then you don’t enter the memorial, even though you might really, really want to because it links up the rest of your family.”

As I have previously mentioned in other posts, I have not added an uncle and his wife to Find-A-Grave because I don’t where they are buried.

About ICT Genealogist

Originally from Gulfport, Mississippi. Live in Wichita, Kansas now. I suffer Bipolar I, ultra-ultra rapid cycling, mixed episodes. Blog on a variety of topics - genealogy, DNA, mental health, among others. Let's collaborateDealspotr.com
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