Find a Grave (Owned by Ancestry), Seriously, JUST STOP Incentivizing the Creation of Memorials of the Recently Deceased

I’ve been horrified, as has any sentient being, about the massacre in Uvalde, Texas.

I’ve also been increasingly furious these past few days because the practice of awarding “points” by Find a Grave, owned by Ancestry, to people who create memorials is making an already horrific situation much worse for traumatized families whose members perished.

THESE CHILDREN AREN’T EVEN BURIED, yet a non-family member rushed to create memorials for them, including photos and other family details lifted from news articles and other sources! We won’t even mention the copyright violations that Ancestry/Find a Grave consistently chooses to ignore.

This vampiristic death-gathering and memorial-creating behavior isn’t limited to the Uvalde massacre, it’s Buffalo and other victims of mass killings in addition to people who die of natural causes every day.

The same thing happened with one of my immediate family members a few years ago, and I still remember the shock of discovering her via a “hint” in the midst of grief.

Before I continue, I’d encourage you to read Judy Russell’s blog article, Ancestry, this one’s on you, but come back here when you’re done. Judy is on FIRE about this one, and with good reason.

Ancestry’s Failed Policy

Ancestry’s supposed policy of showing limited information about a memorial unless the creator is an immediate family member obviously had a major fail given that Judy was able to take screenshots of the memorial of this recently murdered child.

After a rather loud and persistent outcry from the community, back in January Find a Grave decided to redact some information for 3 months after a death. Yet, the memorial remains in place for the family to find. Ancestry does NOT prevent the creation of these memorials for bounty points.

This situation should never have happened in the first place and has been ongoing with incredible foot-dragging by Ancestry FOR YEARS! It’s just in our faces again with the Uvalde and other recent high-profile mass murders.

Even with the photo and some information hidden, for now, the Uvalde victims’ memorials are still listed. The one above is the same child’s memorial as in Judy’s article.

Even after eventually transferring the memorial to a family member, the original creator is always still listed. Unfortunately, this practice of awarding points and forever listing the “creator” by Ancestry encourages and incentivizes “trophy hunting.”

Here’s an example from one of my immediate family members.

You can then click on the name of the creator or the “maintainer,” which is me in this case, and see their stats. Here’s mine.

Notice that in Judy’s original screenshot, you could see the Find A Grave identity of the person who created that child’s memorial. However, Find a Grave has chosen to “protect” that person in the redacted version by not showing the creator’s identity. So we don’t know who collected that bounty point.

This is not a new issue. Ancestry/Find a Grave has not and is not acting expediently to resolve the situation. In fact, the “situation” doesn’t have to exist at all.

Take a look at this complaint board about Find a Grave. These issues pepper the genealogical community on social media, day after day after day.

Why Is This Happening?

This occurs because Ancestry displays the number of memorials created by volunteers. Some people spend their time finding obituaries and death announcements and creating memorials for people as soon as they die in order to rack up points, like a game.

The problem is that finding your loved one’s memorial, often with incorrect information, created by a stranger is unexpectedly jarring, at best. Especially to discover that your family member was only a trophy harvest whose memorial was created hours after they died. Then, having to ask (sometimes beg an unresponsive person) for the transfer of their memorial to you, only to have the creator’s name forever associated with the memorial adds insult to injury.

I’m not referring here to a volunteer who lives locally and “takes care” of local cemeteries, like the person who created memorials for my parents months after they were buried, not hours after they died. Most of those people are respectful, kind, and pleasant to deal with. They provide their services out of the kindness of their heart AFTER giving the family a respectable amount of time. Those ARE NOT the people I’m referring to.

Those lovely local volunteers aren’t the mega-harvester people searching online funeral home listings morning and night for new points to score. That is NOT a service to anyone except themselves, and oh yea, Find a Grave/Ancestry who can then serve up hints to Ancestry subscribers and garner page views.

Ancestry clearly wants to keep those harvesters engaged but to the detriment of the actual genealogists who subscribe to Ancestry’s services. That’s a mighty high price leveraged on the backs of their customers. And let’s face it, sooner or later, everyone’s parents, siblings, or (God forbid), children pass away. Ancestry is rewarding people to further torture the grieving. Every grieving person needs a respectable amount of time and space. Ancestry, of all companies, should be sensitive to this.

What Needs to Be Done?

I’m not privy to any inside information, but I believe that originally Find a Grave, before it was purchased by Ancestry, began listing memorials and other stats to encourage volunteers to document and photograph cemeteries to assist genealogists. That was the original purpose.

However, that purpose has morphed into something very different. Ancestry has the agency, and responsibility to put the brakes on.

Ancestry needs to:

  1. Stop awarding points like trophies, at least publicly.
  2. Remove the name of the original creator when the memorial is transferred to a family member.
  3. Prevent anyone except close family members from creating memorials for minimally 90 days and I’d suggest a year.

I wasn’t done with my mother’s estate for at least a year and wasn’t ready to deal with seeing her photo and obituary online until then.

And if that was my child, OMG.

Who in their right mind would think that entering those massacred children into Find a Grave immediately was acceptable by any criteria? Any standards of decency? And why would Find a Grave tolerate this for even a minute? Death is traumatic for family members under the “best” of circumstances and it only goes downhill from there.

And this is clearly the worse of circumstances.

While the individuals who created those memorials before the bodies were even cold were insensitive, and that’s the best spin I can put on it, Ancestry is the only one who can, should, and has the responsibility to stop this. And they have, so far, been unwilling.

It’s time for every single one of us to speak up. Bloggers and influences as well as the rest of Ancestry’s customers. We can all be influencers.

Use Your Outside Voice

Ok, bloggers and social media people – use your voices. We have even more influence cumulatively, together, as a chorus, than individually.

I do need to provide a word of warning though, especially to bloggers and other professionals.

Ancestry is punitive if you don’t always write positively about them. They will pull your affiliate account if you have one. They will exclude you from influencer calls, meetings, and related events at conferences. I’m guessing Judy and I will be enjoying snacks in the restaurant while those meetings are taking place. I encourage you to join us. It’s worth it to do the right thing.

You don’t need to be a blogger to have an influence. Everyone has a voice. Here are several things everyone can do.

Ancestry’s CEO

Deborah Liu was named Ancestry’s CEO in February 2021. She can fix this with one call or email.

This would be a good Twitter thread to reply to:

Based on Deborah’s social media photos, she has children. Ask her how she would feel if her children were massacred, and some unknown trophy hunter created their memorial as soon as their name was available. Would she feel violated? Crushed? Robbed of the opportunity to provide that caring act for her precious family member when she was ready?

God forbid this would ever happen to Deborah or her family, but if it did, this problem would be remedied in about 30 seconds.

Deborah may be “mourning with them,” but she is increasing the grief of countless people by failing to remediate Ancestry’s company policy. Furthermore, she, assuredly, is not following the Golden Rule by “doing unto others.” As if just doing the “right thing” isn’t enough reason alone.

Here’s the Biblical reference, if she needs it:

Matthew 7:12 (International Version), “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.”

Perhaps Deborah didn’t know before, but let’s make absolutely positively sure she knows now!

Other Resources

Here’s a list of other places you can place comments and make yourself heard!

Let’s be that squeaky wheel and get results. Be respectful, but be sure to remind Ancestry that you are a PAYING customer when you call.

Ancestry, it’s way past time to step up.

64 thoughts on “Find a Grave (Owned by Ancestry), Seriously, JUST STOP Incentivizing the Creation of Memorials of the Recently Deceased

      • I 100% agree about people posting tragedies, especially right after they pass. They should be banned altogether. Find-A-Grave was designed to honor, remember and help genealogists. A lot of people don’t have family who can/want to assist with their roots. The only way I see my mom’s grave, and other family, is the site. If someone didn’t post a photo of my dad’s headstone, I’d never know he was a SeaBee in WWII. It had all his military info on it. I take photos for people who request them and so they’re preserved in history for others. Most of us don’t care about the points. Records aren’t always online and more are being restricted at courthouses, etc. I will say that Ancestry is a company out for ONLY money and uses AI now. Records are being sealed by courts and limited due to the baptismal practice of baptisms in their church, especially the Jewish and Catholic faiths. I do request that we keep these sites open to the public for those of us who can’t travel. It gives me the ability to see my mother’s grave across the country.

  1. I already contacted them. I suggested that they put a limit that no one can put up a memorial until 10 years after a burial. This is a genealogy site, after all, not a recent news site. Makes no sense.

  2. I agree on the 10 year limit unless they are a family member. At the very least they they need to allow the owner of a memorial to delete it, no matter who created it. My mother died in 2016 and I hadn’t yet created a memorial as I was waiting until I could get back to where she lived and was buried to take a photo of the headstone. I will be back there this fall, and planned on taking pictures and creating a Find A Grave memorial then. Being a small town (about 8000 people) I didn’t think I would need to worry about people going after statistics creating a memorial in a small town. It turns out I was wrong. I recently found that someone local created a memorial for my father and my mother about a year ago. I practically had to pry the memorials from her, and only after threatening to contact Find A Grave did she transfer them. In looking at memorials in the cemetery for the past year, all are added by her, and in some cases she has photographs of the local obituary. Many are only weeks old.

    I contacted Find A Grave about 3 weeks ago asking that they delete the memorials, now that I am the owner. I haven’t heard from them. Their site says they *may* on a case by case basis. It is ridiculous that a the owner of the memorial I can’t delete the memorials and create new ones myself.

    I don’t forever want this statistic seeker’s name linked to creating memorials for my parents. They also lifted color photos, apparently from Facebook, that they added for my mother. They also typed word for word her obituary (which I wrote and paid for) to her memorial, violating my copyright. I was able to delete that, as I don’t want names of all her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren in such a public place. It’s one thing to appear in a small town newspaper. It’s another to be on Find A Grave.

    If that person had any common sense at all they could see that I had created memorials for my grandparents and other relatives in the same cemetery that are adjacent headstones, and I was listed in the obituary, so if I had not created a memorial there was obviously a reason. Listing statistics for Find A Grave members needs to go, as does not allowing current owners to delete a memorial, because a statistic seeker created it.

    • I have decided that I will set up memorials for my parents before I leave the effing hospital when that time comes. They’re 94.

      • Good luck. You’ll need it.

        When my father died, one of these vultures swooped in and created a page for him. I got control of it, but the stranger’s name is forever listed as the creator.

        Since I had learned how these buzzards operate and wanted to avoid a repeat, I created a memorial for my aunt right after she died, but it was stolen out from under me anyway! Someone created a duplicate AFTER me, and the site sided with them because they had provided more information. They deleted my legitimate entry and kept the interloper’s. I lived thousands of miles away and couldn’t take a picture of the grave, didn’t have the obituary when I set it up, etc. I had just set up a basic profile thinking I would update it in the coming weeks, but no such luck.

        Infuriatingly, I couldn’t gain control of the duplicate because I as her niece wasn’t considered an immediate relative.

        It makes me lividly angry what these vultures do to people. I don’t want to look at my relative’s sites and see strangers names!!!

    • A ten year moratorium is far too long, IMHO. People will forget, continue to put things off and it will be dropped. A one year moratorium provides time for the family or friend of family to make they entry as they deem fit. Also, especially since the pandemic most cases, it takes a year for a stone to be set,….which most want to be included.

  3. Roberta, Thank you for enlightening me about *why* I haven’t been invited on those calls and in meetings all these years … lol. Honesty, integrity, and ethics have a price some aren’t willing to pay. The question I ask is, “Can any and all of us live without Ancestry and Find a Grave? They own the site; they make the rules. If we’ve proverbially come to the table with a reasonable request to respect the mourning (see the panel about ethics at RootsTech 2022 and its accompanying chat) and Ancestry has denied that request, does Ancestry own us or can we we walk away? Ideally we seek a win-win, but if not, those with integrity will maintain their position and cease to deal with Ancestry. I’ve been researching long enough to know that, although convenient, a subscription to Ancestry is not a necessity.

  4. Slightly different story, but I had a heck of a time getting someone to remove a memorial that had been created for a cousin of mine who is still very much alive! Of course, she only listed that my cousin was deceased, but no date of death. She had her listed with her husband who had, in fact, passed away some years ago. This person had created many thousands of memorials and had a bio that explained rather snootily that she was an “expert” genealogist and while she “might” consider suggested edits, in her experience, she was almost always right. I contacted her several times but she didn’t reply. I then contacted Find-A-Grave, and they wouldn’t do anything because I’m not an immediate enough family member. Finally, I contacted the person who created the memorial one more time, and this time she took it down. I’m glad she did. I really didn’t want to have to get my 93 year old cousin (actually, my 1st cousin, once removed – my father’s first cousin) directly involved.

    • I actually think I’ve seen the bio of that contributor. If not hers, then one very close.

    • The problem is, of course, that they have the power to hold your family’s or anyone’s information hostage, to their whims. Even if you get the memorial transferred, their name and “credit” is still there and there’s nothing you can do about it. Literally, nothing.

      • Roberta,
        You do understand that Find A Grave is a collaborative website, where everyone’s contributions are respected. That’s why you can’t remove the photos someone else added. Or the “flowers” they leave.

        • Yes, of course I understand that. Many websites are collaborate and still have rules that govern behavior. If you look, they all have terms and conditions that govern what users can and can’t do. They can control this.

    • I am in the midst of this exact scenario right now with Find-A-Grave refusing to remove the memorial for a living first cousin. She had her name added to the headstone below those of her parents, in anticipation of ultimately being buried with them on her passing. My own parents are in that same grave and share the same headstone—a burial plot which I own and on which I had the headstone installed. But Find-A Grave says I’m not immediate family to my living cousin so they won’t remove her memorial and only suggest I request a transfer. However the person who currently maintains the memorial can’t delete it because she didn’t create it, so a transfer to me would not give me that capability either. And the two separate individuals who created it and transcribed it are shown as “Not accepting messages.” So is my only option to notify my elderly cousin (living in another country) that she is “deceased” and try to explain to her (a very non-techy person) the process to try to get her memorial removed?

      As a side note, my mother’s memorial in this same grave was added by someone just two days after her passing, by an individual who can only have lifted her details from her obituary. That obit did not, however, make any mention of burial details so how would he have known which cemetery to post it to? Her ashes were not even interred there and the headstone erected until over a year after her passing!

  5. This is why I have already created my own Find-A-Grave memorial. My wife and my daughters have access to my Find-A-Grave account.

    • When you create one like that, is it completely private until you publish it? If so, that’s a really good idea!

  6. THANK YOU for this article! Last year my Dad passed away at the age of 91. I already had a memorial for my Mom and her parents. A few days after Dad passed, I decided to go on FAG and add a memorial for him & connect to my Mom. I was totally shocked to see someone had already done it!! I was livid!! Not only did they do my Dad but based on the obit they added one for my brother who passed away in 2015. They had him buried in the same cemetery as my parents! He was cremated & his ashes sprinkled in the woods where he loved to hunt. I never thought to put a memorial up for him because he wasn’t buried but I guess I should have. I requested that the person give be control for both memorials but they only gave me Dad’s.
    A family should be able to grieve. It’s crazy that anyone can create a memorial based on obituaries that they see & read. How sad for those families in TX! I can’t even imagine.
    I did complain on Ancestry’s Facebook page & there were a lot of comments complaining about the same thing & their own personal experiences.
    Ancestry definitely needs to do something!
    Thanks for the information I will definitely use some of those links.

      • Did you not see that she said she DID request control of the memorials and they only gave her her father’s?

        As she very clearly stated, as have others, it is insulting and upsetting to see a stranger’s name in the “created by” field. A stranger has no legitimate business creating a memorial for a recently deceased person. It’s no more appropriate than it would be for a stranger to try to write the obituary for someone they’ve never met. Apparently, some deranged people have as a hobby inserting themselves into other people’s family lives where they are VERY much not wanted, and then pretending they’re doing a community service..It’s sick and abusive.

  7. Same thing happened to me. Good for you for advocating for action. Will be emailing/posting per your suggestion later today! Thank you.

  8. I agree Find a Grave should not post memorials for recently deceased and the creator should be a family member. However, how would Find a Grave know if the creator is a close family member? Personally, I think Ancestry should be designated a monopoly and be broken up.

    • They could at least ask and if they discover that someone lied, block that person from creating memorials. They could also look for pattern behavior electronically.

  9. I agree. We as a genealogical community may need to consider next steps if Ancestry does not take this seriously. I know I am.

  10. Roberta, I have been a member of Find A Grave for many years and have created some memorials and also have requested and received many more close family memorials. When my dear husband passed a year and a half ago, as you can imagine, the pain and heartache was so intense that the last thing I was thinking of was creating a memorial. But then one day, I think it was 6 days after his passing, I added his death date to the Ancestry trees I have created which he is in and prepared a memorial for him on Find A Grave, To my astonishment, like a punch to my stomach, I was informed that memorial already existed! I looked at it and realized the creators were indeed “bounty hunters” and had over 3000 memorials created at that time. I was furious, to say the least, that I wasn’t able to create this for my beloved husband. Although not published in the local newspaper, they had taken the entire obituary I had written, including his picture, from the funeral home and made the memorial. I wrote a message to them, then after I calmed down, I wrote another message which I actually sent. They then turned the memorial over to me, emailing me a message which I am sure was a stock one they sent to other bereaved family members who tell them how upset they are to find their loved ones memorial already made. This is obviously still a very painful issue for me and I hope that the suggestions made will be implemented by Ancestry soon.

  11. I had no idea but I also am outraged. My mother passed in 2020 and was cremated. Her remains were kept with us until after the funeral as we hoped to honor her wishes at a better time (with no pandemic). Soon afterward, I saw on Find A Grave a memorial for her with photo, obituary and place of burial! She was not yet buried, yet this person ASSUMED the place of her burial due to another family member being buried there. I was outraged and wrote a rather scathing email to the person who created it and also to Ancestry (where it was a hint). Never heard back from ancestry but the memorial at Find A Grave was thankfully deleted. Your article sheds much light on why this occurred – I had been baffled on why someone whom none of us knew would be motivated to do such a thing, now I know.

  12. I agree. I WAS a member of since September 2000. I had a tree of sourced 186,000 people there. Back in Nov 2022, 3 days b4 I needed to renew my yearly subscription, I was sent an email by that their terms had changed. I read through all of it and discovered that in 3 days they proposed that they would then OWN all my family photos I put into the tree but also own all the source records I had found over the years outside of I wrote them a very nasty letter telling them that if they didn’t change this new policy that I would leave the site permanently. They didn’t so I erased the entire tree. Also, someone put a new memorial for my Mom, who had passed 2 days earlier, on find a grave. This was no one I knew It took about 6 months to get it transferred over to me. Luckily I was the only one in our family of 11 that saw this. If I hadn’t been on top of things errors would have been perpetuated..

    • But, how do you know that had not already made and stored copies of your pictures before you deleted your tree?

      • Caith, you are correct. If anyone copied a photo or source from your tree to theirs, then Ancestry “owned” it when the new terms went into effect. Happened to me.

  13. The creator details are still visible in the FindaGrave app. Of the 21 memorials I found for the Uvalde victims, 17 were created by the same ghoul. Although it appears his account may now be defunct.

  14. For a while, I was creating memorials on Find a Grave at a cemetery near me that I had sort of taken on as a project to gather information about Civil War veterans buried there as well as some of the more locally famous interments that are resting there. Many of these people are long forgotten about by their ancestors, and I only added a memorial if I discovered relevant information during my research and felt creating a memorial for a person that didn’t have one was a good thing to do. I would never want to claim a memorial for myself if I am not related. Some of the ones I created brought to light relatives of those resting there and I GRATEFULLY transferred it to them. But you are right 100% about this sickening habit at Find a Grave and how it is like a game to some people. Thank you for the enlightening article and I will also be contacting Ms Liu in hopes that she makes things as they should be.

    • I’ve created memorials for those I’m not related to, also, but like you I will relinquish to a family member. One that I created was for a friend of my fathers, who has no known relatives in the U.S. He was a German national who in WWII joined the U.S. Army to fight the Nazi’s. I thought this man’s valor deserved being known. If interested you can find it here:

  15. Despicable and outrageous! The family members should bring suit against and its officers. Only then with the accompanying negative publicity will they listen. Infliction of emotional distress, either intentional or with wanton disregard, is actionable in most states. Find-a-Grave may have given up on truth and accuracy a long time ago, to my own boundless frustration, but this clearly crosses the line. I could go on and on about the garbage and contrived entries by contributors with garbage trees, but that pales in comparison to what these people have done.

  16. First let me say that you and Judy are on fire with these blogs! I couldn’t agree more. I’ve had my share of issues with users on Find a Grave. Some experiences have been good. A couple have been mind-numbingly difficult.

    When I first started up with genealogy back in 2017, I saw that a 3rd cousin made profiles for my grandparents and my great-grandparents on the Carrabis side. Makes sense. My great-grandfather’s brother was her grandfather. That was fine and I was given control of the profiles once I messaged her.

    Then I found my grandfather on my mom’s side. At that point he was still alive and I messaged the person saying that he was. He didn’t pass away until September 2017. So, I had to fight tooth and nail to get the profile. I eventually got it and my grandmother’s profiles after much kicking and screaming.

    All was fine on Find a Grave for a while until the summer of 2020. My dad’s cousin Carol passed away and soon after someone put her profile on Find a Grave with a pic and everything. I checked with my second cousin to see if it was her father who made the profile. She said no. Her dad isn’t computer savvy. The person made profiles for her husband and son who were still very much alive. The names were on the stone. I had to fight to get that profile, too. It was crazy!

    It didn’t end there. I recently found that someone made a profile for my great-aunt who is still alive at 99. She has a plot next to her husband who died in 2014 but next to know info. I sent in suggestions and they were accepted but no transfer was accepted as I asked for it. I connected her to her right family but the guy just didn’t let me get the profile. No response from him or Find a Grave’s help.

    On Find a Grave I have added 48 memorials and I manage 84 at this time. The people in the pages are all connected to me in one way or another. Most are from cemeteries that are within driving distance. I don’t go out of my way to add millions of people. What I do is just add profiles for people connected to me and ask for pics if needed. That’s how a sensible person should use the site, right?

    Sadly, some people like to collect profiles. It would be a lot easier if people were to just create profiles for people they are connected to and build it up from there. That and add profiles for people who died up to maybe a month or two beforehand. Maybe three? Give the families some time to grieve. And if no one has a death date? Don’t add the profile! It’s that easy!

    Thanks for the post Roberta. I think you and Judy gave me an idea for a blog myself. =D

  17. Other than complaining to Ancestry, which is owned by an investment company, what options do we have? The owners won’t really care because so many people use the site and there are so many ads (disguised as helpful places to explore more) bringing in more money.

  18. I, like so many others, have been fighting with FindaGrave over the local “Bounty Hunter” who adds memorials as soon as they run in the local news paper. The last straw was when my mother-in-law died earlier this year. I rushed home after her death and added a memorial for her because I wanted control of it. By the next day, despite the new rules that are supposedly in place, the bounty hunter had added the photo that ra in her obit and a screen shot of the obit. After several months FindaGrave agreed to remove them but has yet to stop this person from continuing to do the same to other persons.
    To allow this to happen to the parents in Texas who lost their children to a senseless murder is beyond belief. Thank you for bringing it to our attention, hopefully we can help stop it.

    • Roberta, I didn’t know until I read your email. To say I am appalled is to say the least. We all have been grieving with these 19 children’s parents, families and friends. How could Ancestry/Find A Grave do this? This type of actions are not what we as the genealogy community is about. I am sorry to say when Ancestry was sold this last time I did not have a good feeling. Even though I have enjoyed most of the upgrades, etc that has been made to Ancestry, I do not condone this type of action. This certainly explains some of the Find A Grave’s postings recently that have little or no information. If the whole “game” is to have more than anyone else new listings to receive points with no substance, then this will make Find A Grave obsolete. Even as in this case they creator has more information, they should be respectful of the public, family, friends. Thank you for you email, I would never have known. Mary Jen

  19. Oh, I got Ancestry as an ad on Instagram yesterday.

    I ranted my little heart out as a response to them.

    I think I need to go find a tweet to reply to!

  20. TKU for the info. There is also another issue of people (grave hunters) adding memorial for those who preplanned their burials and have a headstone with only a birth date. My brother in law was one of them. After he passed I went to add a memorial only to find he had one?? Really he had just passed. The person who set up the memorial would not transfer it to me. So I went to Find a Grave, with absolutely not help from them.
    I set up my own memorial ( yes I know your not suppose too). Tough I did so and he finally transferred his to me after 3 years.
    Ancestry has become a Octopus with long tunicles.

    • I had a similar experience. The person set a memorial up for my brother based on my Dad’s obit. Information was wrong. I sent them a message & wanted it transferred to me but mo response. So I did my own memorial for him with correct information. I complained to Find a Grave & no response or action taken. Frustrating!

  21. Non-Family members should not be allowed to post memorials for a set time,at least one year. I would prefer thta non-family members not be allowed to post a memorial at all. I do not see, though, how this could be regulated. I find it shocking to find a family memorial that has been posted by a complete, unrelated stranger. I would prefer that non-family members not be allowed to post memorials at all. I do realize though that in some cases there are no living family members available to post memorials. Close family griends might do this but, how do you regulate who can post and who can’t? How do we decide what length of time we should wait before a non-family member (often a complete stranger) can post. Peronally, I would prefer that only family members be allowed to post. That might prevent posts by unrelated people, people who never knew or even met the deceased.

  22. This is an example of the few ruining it for the many. I would be in favor of simply banning any profile creations with no date of death or with a date of death less than 3-5 years. It’ll slow down genealogy – but who in genealogy routinely searches for the recently deceased on Find a Grave?

  23. Thank you for your email. I actually didn’t know this was happening. I have been a long time photographer for Find-A-Grave and I go out to local cemeteries to take requested photos of gravestones. On occasion I have put in BIOs for people who passed away a long time ago using their obituary for documentation. When I forget to credit the original source I get a slap on the wrist from Find-a-Grave.They won’t post it until I have edited the BIO. I am also asked my relationship to the deceased when I post a BIO. It would be very easy to train the AI who reads new entries to stop entries like the ones you mention. Your suggestions are excellent.

    • Thank you for the service you provide to genealogists and those of us who don’t live close.

  24. Thank you for bringing this to our attention, Roberta! I have also had similar issues with FindAGrave, but didn’t realize how rampant it was, or that the insensitive ghouls are creating memorials so quickly. I recently added a memorial for a cousin, only to discover that someone else had created a memorial for him, with inaccurate information. I contacted FindAGrave and asked them to delete the other memorial, as I was a family member and had correct information. Well, they “researched” the issue and deleted my memorial instead because the other one had been created first. I had started adding memorials with photos and other information and linking the memorials to make it easier for my non-genealogist family members to look at the family tree, but I’m seriously considering whether I want to continue adding any memorials.

  25. Thank you for posting this information. After reading this, I contacted the owners of my grandparents memorials and all of them have been quickly transferred to me. My question is – should I send a thank you message to them? I want to encourage them to do this for others.

    • I wish Ancestry Findagrave would make this easier. When I have wanted to thank a contributor, I was discouraged by all the steps it would take to do it.

  26. Today I cannot get to remove ‘memorial’ for my relative who is a convicted child molester! and someone actually left a paint brush??? as a remembrance on his page, really, you want to acknowledge a child molester?
    originally i put this memorial here and bio tells story of why:’only for reference, not intended as ‘memorial’. i thought that said it all.
    then, it was deleted and now i see recently someone (not a family member to my knowledge) has put it up again and it say ‘merged’. why/how did it get merged??
    i asked that it be removed saying it’s offensive to me and was told “it’s not offensive, everyone needs to be remembered, good or bad”.
    this site is a joke and i will be deleting all my memorials, which you have to ‘request’. guess findagrave owns, not me!!
    frankly, i am schocked at the response from ‘support’ at this site.

  27. Originally Find-A-Grave was to verify someone that was buried, actually there in the cemetery. To have a record of what was in a cemetery as a reference for those that couldn’t travel there; and usually for graves that were old, not new. Visual historical reference.

    Sad, horrific it has turned into a free-for-all. Kind of like co-op trees, we now have co-op cemeteries, with all the errors that go with it.

    I guess this is the danger of our digital age – everyone is just disconnected from immediate emotional feedback that would normally happen otherwise.

    We also have to keep in mind that people would not be doing this without a personal reward. Our society is changing due to technology, and now we see the results that not all of it is good.

  28. Hi Roberta, I just found your post. I find it objectionable that Death Certificates have been allowed. The cause of death is no one’s business except the family’s. Also the person’s exact address is listed.. Those are not facts included in an Obituary, for good reason. Find a Grave has a stated objective of being a repository for memorial pictures. A transcript of the information on the headstone can be added. Count the number of memorials without headstones. The number is amazing. A contributor, who is not directly related, has added picture-less memorials so that he can add his flawed research in building my family tree back to the mid-18th century. This is outside Find a Grave stated objectives. My family tree has been thoroughly researched by family members and professionally-accredited researchers. Per Find a Grave guidelines, the memorials should not have extended past my great-grandfather. The memorials that extend past my great-grandfather have serious errors based on assumption. My 2nd great-grandfather’s memorial, which should not be on the site, has a headstone for a 19-year old Civil War soldier from Ohio. My 2nd great was born 37 years earlier, and on his memorial are children who were born before the young “father” soldier. The memorial manager has extended my family line by two additional generations with incorrect information, including a memorial for my 4th great-grandfather, whose biography is not within my family line. My numerous messages with Find a Grave support since 2020 have not been met with success so far.

  29. For some of its members ‘Find A Grave’ has become an obsession. I go to their forums sometimes for a laugh because they’re so incredibly pathetic fighting over who has the most memorials on the site. When you have over 300,000 memorials on ‘Find A Grave’ I think it’s pretty safe to say you don’t have a life. As for who’s making all the money that would be Ancestry and that was made possible by most of those pathetic users. Family Search is not much different.

  30. Not everyone who makes memorials based on obituaries are “bounty hunters”. Some, like myself, are sincerely trying to memorialize the deceased, as well as create an accurate genealogy on Find A Grave. I hardly ever look up my statistics.

    I would support allowing the creation of memorials, while blocking their viewing for several months.

    A side issue: Even when it comes to family members, who should have control? One relative makes a memorial and thinks that they are doing a beautiful service to the deceased. Another relative is incensed and hurt by its inclusion. This problem exists on any platform; I’ve dealt with it myself. People grieve differently and you can’t always win.

  31. Msg left on

    I once had 101 memorial pages set up on Find A Grave, mostly for deceased family members and ancestors. Then in 2021, I transferred one memorial page for a relative to someone who was more closely related to the deceased person, which I had no problem with doing, and which seemed like the right thing to do. However, something seems to have changed recently on the website. Other members of the website created new duplicate memorial pages for the memorial pages I created, and then reported that my memorial pages, which had been on the website for years, were the duplicates. 13 of my memorial pages were transferred to other people in 2022, without notifying me, and I could not even determine if the people who had stolen my memorial pages were related or not, because they do not use their real names on their accounts, but instead have nicknames or handles for use on Find A Grave. They do appear to be collecting memorial pages like hoarders, and some of them have tens of thousands of memorial pages. My memorial pages included photographs and personal details on the deceased, which took many hours of work to find and verify. Because I am a website owner and website content creator as my primary career, I do a lot of research on authors and other unrelated people, and when I found information on deceased persons which was not on their memorial pages on Find A Grave, I made edit suggestion on those memorial pages, thousands of them over the years.

    In November 2022, I decided that I could not accept the policies and bad conduct of Find A Grave employees and members any longer, so I set up my second website, for genealogy and biography, for my deceased family members and relatives, and I permanently closed my Find A Grave account. My website is now ‘under construction,’ so it only shows a landing page or home page, and I will make the genealogy and biography pages visible when they are completed. The cost to register the website domain name and pay for website hosting service for a year is less than the lowest-cost membership in Ancestry for a year. For those who might want to do the same, please know that it now takes about as much know-how and effort to set up a website as it does to set up an account on one of the social media websites, and no coding skills required – it’s that easy. I am also working on a simple text-based genealogy template (Phase 1) and biography template (Phase 2) that I will eventually place on the website so that others can freely use them. I have seen many alternatives to Find A Grave and Ancestry, including other websites set up like mine, by individuals and families, and these websites give the people the ability to maintain full control over the information placed on the websites and allow them to set their own policies and prevent bad conduct such as apparently exists on websites owned by aggressive corporations.

    I encourage people to take back that part of themselves, their family history, which really belongs to them and not to any corporations, other organizations, or strangers.

    As an aside, I have a few questions for the big corporate website operators: Why not allow for the creation of duplicate memorial pages, without having to delete or transfer the other duplicate memorial pages? The increase in data storage space on the servers would be so minimal as to not even be an additional cost. There could be a ranking system, with people giving one to five stars to memorial pages, and the duplicate memorial page with the highest ranking or rating would appear at the top, with the other duplicate memorial pages shown below by their ranking or rating. Alternatively, they could be arranged by date of creation, or just shown in no particular order, randomly. And, why not limit the number of memorial pages an individual member could have, say for example, to 5,000, with any memorial pages over that number being transferred to, and managed by, a team of website employees?

  32. Thank-you for this much needed article. I really feel that only those who are related, or who can prove to be closely associated with the person who has passed, should be able to create memorials. Unrelated people claim to just be “Good Samaritans” yet I have found unscrupulous managers of thousands of memorials, for example, who are trying to profit off of the grief of relatives. Racking up thousands of memorials will just put more eyes on their sales pitch, which is made under the guise of being a helpful citizen. Good Samaritan eh?

    Of course, when I try to find a way to “Report an Unscrupulous Memorial Manager” there is no such thing. And, I know that nothing would be done anyway because Ancestry will have no desire to remove thousands of “records” that are very useful for their continued success.

    It’s pretty disgusting. I made a Photo Request for the grave of my family members. It is halfway across the world from me. I wanted to contribute, in return, and started looking at who needed help with photos in my area. I quickly learned that most of the requests were from people who were no relation whatsoever, each having hundreds, if not thousands, of memorials under their belts. And then to see that people are trying to profit from it….It’s unbelievable.

    So, I have to be very careful about who I photograph for. I certainly will not be photographing for anyone who has gazillions of memorials!

    Having ancestors, who live on another continent, makes me appreciate the idea of Find A Grave. It can be a helpful service for genealogical research, but it needs to be managed with an iron fist. Unfortunately, we know that won’t happen because it drives profit.

    Don’t any of these overzealous Memorial Managers ever stop and think about the fact that they are volunteering an enormous amount of their time to help make a massive company even richer for free?

  33. Thanks for the article and all the eye-opening responses. I’ll have to add my two cents worth as well.

    I have received numerous requests from a FindAGrave contributor regarding my ancestors in a local cemetery. After receiving quite a few, I thought she may be a relative with all this information so I looked her up. What I did find was she is not local; she “researches” names for missing information and makes suggestions; she posts a lot of memorials from the names of spouses that aren’t dead yet but that appear on double tombstones of their spouse that passed before them. I have researched about 6 of a dozen or more in the cemetery I am working on. Only one of them has actually died … several years after her memorial was submitted! Someone else posted a memorial not too long after the burial but at least they included the obituary and death date. I reported this duplication to FindAGrave along with the information about what this “points grabber” was doing just to make them aware. Within a week they accepted the duplication except they honored the “points grabber’s” memorial posted way before the person’s death! To verify if the people are still alive, I do a quick Ancestry search based on the dead spouse and any other information I can obtain from FindAGrave. Ancestry has taken measures to hold back the “obit poster memorials”. What can we do about these memorials to living people!? Do people not know that this information transfers to Ancestry as a FACT?

    The great thing about FindAGrave is that anyone can post memorials. The BAD thing about FindAGrave is that ANYONE can post memorials. There is no documentation required such as an obituary or a tombstone picture. I am leery of posts without a tombstone picture. I had a relative post a memorial in a cemetery based on what a book said. I had already posted that entire cemetery, aware that the person was supposed to be there but no tombstone. I chose not to do a memorial. If I had, I would have made a comment to reference my source for posting (book, page, copy of text) and that upon visiting the cemetery, there was no sign of the grave. This same member duplicate posted my GGGGrandfather in that same cemetery quite a few years after I did. It took a while to resolve the issue but I finally won that battle. The “no obvious grave” is still there. I should probably go there and quote my source so that people understand there is no physical evidence. Question remains if the owner of the memorial will accept my input.

    I am working on one small cemetery that has multiple duplicate postings with different information about the same person that I am trying to unravel. When I submit the duplicates, it would be nice to be able to submit my documents proving the correct person so the wrong information is deleted.

    Definitely the number of memorials, photos, famous graves, etc, should be eliminated. I also have a problem with people leaving flowers when they don’t even know the person … again, to get points. (What is it with points on everything these days, anyway!?) Just leave flowers if you must but if you didn’t know them, don’t write anything.

    And finally, the ads that pop up if there aren’t enough pictures to fill up the left column. I am sponsoring as many of my closest relatives as I can afford to prevent this. I’m okay with an ad at the bottom of the page as it helps keep the site free. Just don’t fill up every inch of blank space.

    Ancestry and FindAGrave are some of the best resources but you must due your due diligence to be sure you are recording accurate information. I look for family trees with the most resources that aren’t only other family trees. I also try to get a birth and/or death record and a census record for each person I post on Ancestry. I don’t post on FindAGrave without obtaining a tombstone picture even if I have to request one when impractical to travel.

    • I have a friend that researches people buried locally and she will add flowers with info she finds about the person when the local trophy hunters won’t accept her edits. This allows the family to find some info that they may not know about that is only locally available.

  34. There is a way to find out who the trophy collecting individuals are when they create these memorials. Simply go to the suggest an edit, you don’t actually have to edit it, and scroll to the bottom to find who created it. This will also allow you to click their profile to see just how many trophies they have to their name.

    I just checked one of the local people here that scout out newspapers & funeral homes to create memorials asap and they typically add memorials within hours or a couple of days. Their numbers are crazy (I will add them below) and they used to take many photographs in this area too. Here is the thing they did not just walk through the cemeteries they would straight up run through snapping as many photos as they could, not even good photos, just to boost their numbers. Now that health issues don’t allow them to do that they basically camp on funeral home websites to create them. They claim they are doing it so that these people don’t get lost to time but if that was they case then why do they not allow contact via email or messages? To contact them you have to suggest an edit and select other information to send them a message.

    I purposely check for memorials on my people with upcoming burials at my cemetery (I manage a local, large cemetery0 and when they haven’t created one yet I have a wonderful person that creates and manages memorials for many area cemeteries create the new one. She is a person that lets the family have them without any questions asked, accepts messages and emails, plus she is actually all about genealogy. She does not put any personal information, other than name & date of death, on the memorials until someone sends her edits. If the edits come from the local trophy hunters she leaves them there until they automatically approve by findagrave. It is better that it is with someone that does not fight transferring them to the family, even if it is not extremely close family.

    I may be a little sour about these two people (trophy collectors) here that run one Findagrave ID # to boost their numbers, but they refuse some of the most simple edits for the dumbest reasons. I sent them an edit yesterday listing off a little of the important info from an obituary I added for a person, such as them being a veteran and type of employment for the deceased. They denied the Bio edit because I posted a photo of the obit (correctly identifying the newspaper, date, and page) and the people can read it for themselves. Well I explained it is nice to add it to the bio for people that are blind or don’t have very good sight as their accessibility programs can’t read old newspapers that are blurry, yet I was denied again.

    Personally I wish they would only make the numbers visible to the person making the memorials, that would prevent them from trying to boost their numbers or at least some of them. As promised here are the two local trophy hunters’ numbers:

    Contribution #s of my local trophy collectors who have been doing this for 12 years, 4 months, & 7 days
    95,607 Memorials Added
    137,393 Memorials Managed
    148 Memorials per Week
    174,746 Photos Added
    1 Photo Request
    394 Volunteer Photos Taken
    3,862 Flowers Added
    4 Fame Ratings
    1 Sponsorship
    4 Photos Transcribed

    Contributions of my friend who does this for the older memorials & adds tons of details to them plus researches people to add more to each memorial. She has been at it for 18 years, 16 days and these are her numbers. Just to give you an idea her family tree has over 30,000 people that she has fully researched. Also if you notice the large number of flowers added it is because the Trophy Hunters regularly refuse her edits and she has resorted to just putting them in as a flower.
    38,687 Memorials Added
    40,947 Memorials Managed
    41 Memorials per Week
    19,161 Photos Added
    10 Photo Requests
    1,106 Volunteer Photos Taken
    20,558 Flowers Added
    7 Virtual Cemeteries
    15 Fame Ratings
    14 Sponsorships

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