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Is Find A Grave ready to change?

It’s been a long-term, persistent, growing problem at Find A Grave: that people utterly unassociated with a recently-deceased person race the grieving family to be the first to create a memorial.

The Legal Genealogist has added this blog’s voice to those calling for a moratorium on non-family-members posting memorials for the recently-deceased to give the families involved a chance to deal with a loved one’s death before some stranger spreads the information into a space on the ethernet that the family hadn’t yet occupied.

In A modest proposal, I suggested a 90-day moratorium on allowing strangers to post memorials to the site1 — others have suggested 30 days, even a couple of weeks2 — to give the families of the recently deceased time to come to terms with their loss before an utter stranger is allowed to add a memorial to that website.

And every time the proposal comes up, the Find A Grave apologists are out in force to argue that this small concession to the grief of the families would destroy the website, is inconsistent with its purposes and that families shouldn’t have obituaries or death notices online if they don’t want strangers creating memorials before the deceased is even buried.

Every. Single. Time.

Leopards, it seems, don’t change their spots.

Or do they?

Find A Grave post

This week, a post in the Find A Grave News & Announcements seems to suggest that maybe — just maybe — Find A Grave is beginning to understand that it has a problem here. In the post, Memorials for the Recently Deceased, the site notes that the problem is “unusual” but concedes that it “can make a challenging time more difficult.”3

And it offers a rough outline of one idea to deal with the issue and asks for thoughts, ideas and comments to be posted on the proposal.

Here’s what’s being considered:

• “When someone creates a memorial for someone who has died within the past year we would ask for their relationship. (One year is a starting point, but we’d be curious to hear your opinion on how long this time should be.)”

• “If the person creating the page is not related within our transfer guidelines (this is currently direct line relatives within 4 generations, but we’d appreciate your thoughts on this too), we would let them know that the memorial will be in a provisional state and that if a family member would like to claim it, we will transfer it to them.”

• “Once the memorial is created, it would look like any other memorial, but we would add some messaging to let family members know they can claim the page. (What message do you think would be appropriate?)”

• If the family member was related within the transfer guidelines, he or she would need to have or create an account and the memorial would be transferred to the family member automatically. “Once they were signed in we would transfer the memorial to them and ask if they would like the page to continue to say ‘Created by [original creator]’ or not. If they say no, we would remove the reference to the original creator and just say, ‘Managed by [new person].’”

This isn’t a proposal for a moratorium on posting by strangers for a time to give families a chance to post their own memorials — the spots haven’t changed completely. My own view is that the provisional memorial should not be made live online until the end of the moratorium period. Only family members should be allowed to post within some set time after a death.

But it’s a start.

It suggests that Find A Grave is at least beginning to listen.

Which means those who think we need a moratorium need to speak out.

The Find A Grave post says: “We’d love to hear what you think about this idea or any other ideas you have in the comments on this page.”

That page is here: “Memorials for the Recently Deceased.”

If this is an issue you care about, speak up.

Do it on that page.

Do it now.

Before the leopards decide not to change their spots.

Cite/link to this post: Judy G. Russell, “Of leopards and spots,” The Legal Genealogist ( : posted 31 Oct 2019).


  1. Judy G. Russell, “A modest proposal,” The Legal Genealogist, posted 5 Aug 2019 ( : accessed 31 Oct 2019).
  2. See e.g. Amy Johnson Crow, “How FindAGrave Could – and Should – Be Made Better,”, posted 21 Oct 2016 ( : accessed 31 Oct 2019).
  3. Memorials for the Recently Deceased,” News & Announcements, Find A Grave ( : accessed 31 Oct 2019).
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