I read this post -“Does this couple in Missouri own your relatives on Find a Grave, too?” – over on Young & Savvy Genealogists.
They had an unpleasant experience with a “Memorial Collector”.
I can sympathize.
Yes, I also have had the “collectors” of Find A Grave snatch my deceased family members away from me and my family. They weren’t those mentioned in Young & Savvy Genealogists’ post however they also had a combative statement in their user profile on Find A Grave. Things like: “I went to the cemetery and took the photographs of the headstones and they’re mine” (So very nice of you to go so very often that a family can’t get there quickly enough to get their own photographs of their family member’s grave stone and then tell us that they belong to you.) and “I do not respond to rude or demanding emails or requests” (Why? I’m sure the families you stole from are not remotely happy about what you’ve done. I certainly wasn’t and after several polite attempts to get the memorial transferred, I decided to just not bother any further. I meant that stole too, as much as if you’d come in the house and stolen a family heirloom.) and other things of a similar nature. I also have a problem with the restriction on “direct” relatives. There are many of us who are the only one in the family doing anything like researching our families, creating/maintaining memorials for family members and I believe that if the person is an aunt/uncle, great-aunt/uncle, great grand-aunt/uncle, etc, cousin, and no other person in the family is objecting, the memorial should be transferred to the person in the family even if not a “direct” relative. I have sent requests to add information to various memorials (properly researched and verified information) or photographs which have only gotten me nasty responses to the effect that they are the one maintaining the memorial and they don’t have to add anything they don’t want (Never mind that the memorial is NOT of someone in their family, the person was in MY family and I wanted the correct information for MY family members to know and be able to access.). It is also supposedly possible to add photographs or other information to existing memorials even if maintained by others, however, it isn’t worth the bother if the memorial is under the “ownership” of a collector, they just delete the information and photos – something which was done to a late spouse’s memorial for no good reason, leaving the family members without that information.
I have decided that I am going to follow the excellent guidelines proposed in the above referenced post. I am also going to post memorials to my family members and any others in the extensive family tree who meet the criteria of the guidelines, with proper information, photographs from other family members or persons who give written permission for the use thereof or a link to the location of any photographs or information.
It would, perhaps, be worth Find A Grave/Ancestry.com taking another look at their policies and practices so that “memorial collectors” who really only want to have large numbers of memorials which mean little to them other than as a “possession” be prohibited from such a practice and that a family member must be immediately transferred a memorial belonging to a family member, direct or not.
One of the first questions that should be required before creating a memorial is the person creating it being a family member, there would obviously be a problem verifying the relationship however the immediate removal of any memorial created by a collector for the sake of increasing their tally should be mandatory. Our beloved dead are not there for anyone to willy-nilly abscond with and tote up a huge total of memorials. Those people were members of someone’s family, and family has first dibs. I’m sure there are plenty of people who don’t give a hoot one way or the other if there are memorials of their family members, and those the collectors can have. It simply is wrong that a family can not have the right to maintain memorials to their own.