Tropico Gravers maintained memorials - asking for transfers, additions to bio sections, or anything else that cannot be done through the built-in Find A Grave edit system

By Chris Mills

I had put this information (in a much abbreviated form) onto my Find A Grave contributor page in August or September 2015. Within two weeks the information was removed by one of the Find A Grave administrators. You can draw your own conclusions from that fact, although I will revisit it below.

The explanation (as far as I can tell) of what happened starts four paragraphs below, but if you want a memorial that was maintained by Tropico Gravers to be transferred to you, or want information added or removed on the bio page of the memorial, you need to do this:

Compose an email to Put the memorial number into the subject line of the email. Make sure the email message body contains your contributor email address and member number, as well as your contributor name. If you are asking for a transfer say you want a transfer, and give them the relationship (bear in mind that if the relationship is not covered by the Find A Grave relationship transfer guidelines, they can refuse to transfer the memorial to you). If you want something added to or removed from the bio section, I assume you can put that information into the message body.

The reason I believe this will work is because when I put more or less this same information onto my contributor page, as I mentioned above it, was removed by the Find A Grave admins. I believe it was removed because they feel it is too much work for them to deal with these transfer and bio update requests. All I can say to that is, if they didn't want the work, they shouldn't have seized the f*cking memorials!

Other than that, as far as getting changes made to those memorials, good luck! I am writing this page up because I get these requests every week. I am going to put a link to this page on my Find A Grave contributor profile. The admins can remove that link if they want, and I can just put it back again. If they decide to suspend my account because I'm too much of a pain in the ass, well then I won't have to deal with them at all ever again, but if anyone asks about what happened to my account they will just have to make up some malarkey about how I was violating the "terms of service" of the site.

Around August 17, 2015, a group Find A Grave account which I jointly managed with Kathy Salazar was abruptly suspended (this account being named Tropico Gravers), with no notice. I emailed AJ Marik about it later that day, asking what the heck was going on. The response I got from him was that group accounts were not allowed on the site.

By the way, this account had been operating for over two years this way and had over 200,000 memorials transferred to it. 190,000 of these memorials were transferred to the account by the Find A Grave administration themselves, in the spring of 2013. So any excuse they give of being unaware of what was going on with this account is just a load of steaming donkey dung.

I was given the choice of taking these memorials back into my account. One of the reasons I had set up this group account (as well as others) and offloaded memorials to them was that it was too much work for one person to keep up with this many memorials. I can tell you this much, if I had been told in 2013 that I could not use a group account to keep up with all the memorials that would have been the end of my involvement with Find A Grave, right then and there.

I have never responded to AJ's email asking what I wanted to do with the memorials, just as he has never responded to any of my emails asking him if the Find A Grave staff was willing to do the same level of work taking care of these memorials that Kathy and I did. That, in and of itself, gives you the short version of the answer, which is no. The Find A Grave staff are rubber stamping all edits being submitted on the Tropico memorials, without any thought as to whether the edits are accurate, meaningful, or even self-consistent.

Oh, and by the way, the last time I checked the edit system allows you to submit edits linking people as their own spouses and their own parents, that is a bug in the system which to the best of my knowledge has never been fixed. I asked AJ about that too when I was emailing him and never got an answer back on that either.

In any event, very shortly after I had my email exchange (of sorts) with AJ Marik, I discovered something interesting about the Tropico maintained memorials. Since they are now controlled by a defunct account, the edit option to suggest any other correction or addition to these memorials is nonfunctional, when you click on it the option just tells you the contributor's account is suspended so it cannot receive any emailed suggestions or corrections.

My suspicion now is that is not an accident, but is by design. Everything else that can be run through the edit system can be rubber stamped with virtually no effort, but anything that requires an email to the contributor (i.e., additions to the bio section and transfer requests) doesn't work. So Find A Grave has seized control of these memorials, but because they won't transfer them (all 205,000 of them) to member number 8 (which is the non-famous memorials control account for Find A Grave), there is no way within the edit system to ask for transfers or ask for anyting to be added or removed from the bio section of the memorials.

By the way, it is not just Tropico Gravers memorials that have been "locked up" this way. I checked a few other accounts I knew of where the contributor's account had been suspended for whatever reason, and the same thing was going on. The memorials had not been transferred to member number 8, and as such there was no way to suggest any other change to the memorials. You can get hold of the original contributor if you want, but since they have no access to the memorials there's nothing they can do either.

In addition to my contributor page being edited by the Find A Grave administration, on at least three occasions they have "pushed" all my pending edits, even the ones which were set to ignore. If this doesn't tell you something about the attitudes of the people running the site, I don't know what does. And I believe this is what the future of Find A Grave looks like, more and more suspended accounts when they decide they want to grab a bunch of memorials, more and more stomping on the sensibilites and the ability of the contributors to control their own memorials, etc. etc.

I have already transferred a number of the memorials I was concerned about to other Find A Grave members should my account be suspended. I think Find A Grave has already figured out I'm not going to do any more slave labor for them. They would have been much better off leaving my original verbiage on my contributor page about this, because this page (since it's on my website and not on Find A Grave itself) is much nastier than what I said on my contributor page. But it's like the old saying goes, "the truth hurts".

I now believe that the ownership by (a paid site) of Find A Grave (ostensibly a free site) spells the beginning of the end of Find A Grave as it was, a site where people could pretty much put anything they wanted into the bio sections of the memorials and transfer the memorials to whomever they wanted to. I believe now sees their own property of Find A Grave as being a detriment to corporate profits at Ancestry. I also believe that Ancestry is profoundly uncomfortable with memorials being owned by individuals who can modify them as they wish or (horror of horrors!) delete the memorials if they don't want them to be owned or controlled directly or indirecly by

I suspect the last laugh will be at Ancestry's expense. They can buy up every free genealogy site they want to on the internet and get rid of them, but new ones will keep popping up. If they want to make more money they should stop spending so much money on ads on shows like "Who Do You Think You Are?", which is looking more and more like one giant big ad for Ancestry with all the product plugs they are placing in it.

By the way, I will throw in a plug here for Family Search Dot Org, which is a wonderful free site that does a lot of the same stuff that Ancestry does, for no cost.

There are only a relatively small number of people who are willing to spend the money Ancestry wants every month to use their service. There are a lot more people who are willing to use a site that is completely free, or costs almost nothing to use. The more heavy-handed tactics that Ancestry uses to try and crack down on what they think are the abuses on Find A Grave, the more they will drive people to other websites that (for now) are beyond Ancestry's control.

Some ruminations on my part about what happened to Tropico that were written the week the account was suspended

Page created 8 November 2015

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