One Way to Speed Up Deleting Find A Grave Memorials

By Chris Mills

The information in this article can be found within another article I posted on running PHP queries against Find A Grave to do things you cannot do in a normal Find A Grave search. I have distilled this one element as I now have people asking me about this specific functionality.

I am not condoning deleting memorials to just take them off the site (as versus removing duplicate memorials, which is not only condoned but is mandated by the Find A Grave website). I understand people are frustrated with the site management and that may lead to some extreme actions. I myself have not gotten to the point yet where I am willing to delete my memorials, and hopefully I don't get there. However, I am putting this information out there for anyone who is considering this, your memorials are your own, and Find A Grave should not be able to force you to keep them if you do not wish to do so.

By the way, if you don't want to maintain memorials but don't want to delete them, you can transfer them to member number 8, that is the account that maintains non-famous Find A Grave memorials. If you do that Find A Grave will receive edits and emails about the person and have to deal with them, not you.

I do not know of a way to batch delete memorials. It may be you could do something like that with Perl or Python or some other scripting language, but that is way beyond anything I know about. The steps below will allow you to delete memorials more quickly, but it is still not a batch process.

The line below is an example of what the URL is for a Find A Grave memorial:

This particular memorial belongs to another member, so you won't actually be able to delete it unless you are that contributor. If you want to test it on one of your memorials, sinmply replace the number after the text GRid= with one of your memorial numbers.

A cursory examination of the line above may not reveal that it is different from the URL a couple of paragraphs above. There is one small difference, however. There is a string in the first URL, ?page=gr&GRid= (followed by the memorial number). In this URL the gr has been replaced with dr, so the string is now ?page=dr&GRid= (followed by the memorial number). The "gr" presumably stands for "grave record" and the "dr" may stand for "delete record".

If you try and delete a memorial you did not create and do not own, you will receive a "Not Authorized" message with no further verbiage.

These URLs by themselves are of little value. However, if I wanted to actually use this information to speed up deleting a set of memorials I owned, I would start with a list of my memorials and open the list up in excel. If you have other information within the file (for instance if you downloaded a list of your memorials in a cemetery from Find A Grave), you could delete all the columns except for the actual memorial number. Then disassemble the URLs displayed above into the parts before and after the memorial number and then use the spreadsheet to concatenate the columns together until you have a string that is a shortcut to delete every memorial that was in your list. Within excel you can click on those lines once you have assembled them and then just click Yes when the prompt comes up to delete the memorial. Then proceed to the next line in the spreadsheet and keep going.

This is time consuming but a lot faster than having to look up each memorial and find the place to delete it and then clicking on that field. Not a true batch process, but still faster.

By the way, if you want to get a list of all the memorials you created in a cemetery, see the following article:

Downloading your memorials from a cemetery in Find A Grave
Since I wrote that article I found out that the limit on how many memorials you can have a file generated for automatically is less than 7000 memorials. (I know because someone tried to do it who had over 6900 memorials in a cemetery and they were unable to get that file created automatically). Whatever the limit is, if your memorials in that cemetery exceed that number, you have to actually request that Find A Grave generate the file and send it to you. I can pretty much guarantee you that if they think you are going to use that list to delete your memorials you are never going to get it.

The only thing I can think of that might speed this process up a bit would be to take the URLs from excel and turn them into a an html file and use that to pull up the delete prompts. It might save a second or two per memorial, or it might not save any time.

If someone gets sufficiently aggravated at Find A Grave to incorporate this into some kind of Python or Perl script, I am sure I will hear about it sooner or later.

One more point. My suspicion is that Find A Grave may not look with favor on you deleting your memorials, I would imagine that if they noticed you doing it you could very likely have your account privileges abruptly suspended. So if you are serious about doing this you might want to space it out so that your memorial count does not drop too quickly. I also know that Find A Grave can "resurrect" any deleted memorial if they choose to. In most cases there would be no reason for them to do so, as it would normally be a duplicate memorial that was deleted because there was an earlier memorial for the same person. But if they got wind of what you were doing it wouldn't surprise me if they could bring back everything you had deleted over say, the last few weeks or month. They don't recycle the memorial numbers so there would be no downside to them to bringing back the deleted memorials.

Again, this kind of behavior harms the other contributors on the site, so deleting your own memorials to get back at the site management or site ownership is a sad thing to do, but unless the terms of use of the site say you don't actually own those memorials and Find A Grave owns them instead of you, you are within your rights to do this. I tried looking at the Terms of Service just now to see what I could determine, but it is such a hash of legalese gibberish that I can't make heads or tails of it, so I have no idea. Of course, I'm sure that was the point. It is a moot point for me as I am no longer creating memorials on the site, but if I were still creating memorials and then found out that Find A Grave owns them instead of me, my memorial creation activities would come to a screeching halt.

Page created 23 August 2015

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