Training and Help Video Series
Ten’s of thousands of records are created each day on the BillionGraves website. Occasionally mistakes are made during the transcription process that creates incomplete, inaccurate, or false records. This is VERY unfortunate as this makes the photo unsearchable to genealogists and impossible to sync with partners.
Headstones are a treasure trove of information, and EVERY headstone and contribution is important! So today we will discuss the proper method to find, edit, and fix improper transcriptions found on the BillionGraves website.
Watch the video below:
If you are new to BillionGraves, “Transcribing” refers to a process where a user records the information found on a headstone photo in order to make it searchable on the website. You may be familiar with other similar terms that are used in the genealogy industry like “indexing”. Let’s get started.
1. Why Edit Improper Transcriptions:
You may be wondering why BillionGraves wants you, the user, to edit improper transcriptions. It’s simple…We can’t always see the millions of records circulating the website so with your help we are able to find these records and make them much easier to locate.
When a record is transcribed incorrectly, it can cause that record to be unsearchable by researchers. Typing in the wrong birth or death date, miss-spelling a name, or not transcribing all the information on the stone can all lead to an unsearchable record and/or give researchers bad information. Also, these bad transcriptions carry over to our partners sites who are unable to connect the records to individuals in your family trees. All of these cases lead to records that can’t be found or connected to actual people.
Improper transcriptions can greatly affect record watches, notifications, and other search tools when finding family plots and relationships as well. This can hinder further insight and make finding the rest of the family much more difficult.
Finally the quality of the records are very important to BillionGraves and these memorials are some of the last tangible evidence of a person’s life. This means documenting and preserving that information for all of time is important to those individuals researching and to the those who have passed on.
2. What qualifies as a bad transcription?
When going through the search fields you may find records containing numerous wrong characters such as “unknown”, “-“, or “?”. You may find incomplete names or dates. In some cases these may be due to bad photos or debris covering parts of the stone. However in other cases, these are mistakes made during the transcription process.
For international stones and multi-lingual stones, you may even find records which have been transliterated. Transliteration is when a language is translated by a transcriber from its proper language on the memorial to the language of the user.
For example, a stone that is in Russian but is transliterated into the English meaning for any given word is transliterated from it’s original meaning. Often times leading to improper record translations. This is why all records must be transcribed in the language that appears on the headstone. Whatever the error may be, the headstones require editing and correction in order to be properly searched and matched.
3. How to Find Improper Transcriptions:
Now that we have shown you what to look for, now we’ll show you where to look to find records that need to be fixed. The easiest way to start is to look for records in a cemetery nearby. To do this:
- Log into your account at BillionGraves.com
- Next, click the blue “Search BillionGraves” button in the top right corner.
- Click on the “Cemeteries” tab.
- Enter in the name of a local cemetery. If you are unsure of cemeteries near you, use the filters to select the County, State, or Country.
- Navigate to the cemetery by clicking on the cemetery in the search results.
- Click on the tab, “Search Records” just below the cemetery photo.
- You will now see a list of all of the records in the cemetery. At this point you can either use the search function to find common mistakes like “?”, “unknown”, or “-“; or you can scroll through the list of names looking for errors as well.
- For more advanced ways to assist in correcting records:
- Often times the stone holds more valuable information than just the name and dates. Marriage dates, military service, children, and religious icons are some of the many things you may find on a headstone that can also be added to the record. You can review each record in the cemetery to ensure that ALL information on the stone has been entered into the record.
4. How to Edit and Correct Improper Transcriptions
- On the current record Select the “Wrench Icon”.
- Next, click “Edit Record”.
- Using your mouse scroll down to the bottom and review the “Vital Information”.
- Make Necessary edits in the fields by selecting the field with our mouse (Ex. First Name, Last Name, Dates, etc…).
- Scroll back up the page and select the check-mark icon to save your work.
- The record is now edited.
5. Advanced Techniques:
For updated and advanced techniques for finding improper transcriptions, please visit our community at https://community.billiongraves.com/questions/transcribing-images/advanced.
Thanks for watching this video! We hope that with this new information you are able to understand the importance of correcting improper transcriptions. With your help we can improve the quality of the records and help researchers have better results.
For further information please contact our support team at https://billiongraves.com/support/.
Yesterday, our friends over at Ancestry.com say they were hit by what’s called a DDoS Attack, or a “Distributed Denial of Service” attack. It has temporarily shut down Ancestry.com and their affiliated mobile application, Find A Grave, which is frustrating for the company and users alike. In the last 12 hours, BillionGraves has been inundated with questions from all over the place about this attack, wondering how it happens and if BillionGraves is prepared for something similar. While the attack has shut things down for a moment for Ancestry, it’s important to understand what a DDoS attack is, and what WE, and other companies, do to try to prevent them.
What is a DDoS attack?
While we could give you a long, drawn-out answer, we think the website HowStuffWorks.com gave a great response, found HERE
“The idea is pretty simple — a [hacker] tells all the computers on his botnet to contact a specific server or Web site (In this case Ancestry.com/Findagrave.com) repeatedly. The sudden increase in traffic can cause the site to load very slowly for legitimate users. Sometimes the traffic is enough to shut the site down completely.”
To simplify it even further, hackers try to make a website so slow with fake traffic that the website ultimately crashes.
Why do people do this?
Why do people steal? Cheat? We don’t know… Possibly boredom or a challenge. Maybe revenge? To quote Batman’s butler, Alfred, “Some people just want to watch the world burn.” While these attacks can be momentarily debilitating for a website, it’s important to note that, usually in specific cases of a DDoS attacks, hackers aren’t capturing any portions of anyone’s personal information. They’re simply using an army of fake computers (zombies, if you will), to “attack” and bog down the company’s website. All the information stored there is safe and secure, IF secured correctly.
What do companies do to avoid this?
There are several safe guards that a company can implement to protect their sites from malicious attacks. Unfortunately, there’s not much a company can do with a DDoS attack. Companies like BillionGraves (and Ancestry) hire entire herds of engineers just to keep a website safe and running. It’s a tiresome, time consuming, and thankless position that often goes unnoticed. During a DDoS attack, a system administrator can block specific users, or IP addresses, or start limiting traffic to the website, but it’s extremely difficult to know where the origin of the attacks are coming from. Many of these “attackers” spoof their addresses, making them harder to identify. In most cases, the system administrator has to take the website down and regroup to ensure their site is safe, which is exactly what Ancestry.com is doing at the moment.
All in all, while DDoS attacks appear to be harmless, they can significantly disrupt operations for a website. Companies make their livelihoods with their websites, and these attacks are taken seriously. While no website is 100% immune to these attacks, we have a solid and intelligent team of computer nerds working around the clock to keep BillionGraves safe and running!
Waiting for Ancestry.com to come back online? Go outside and enjoy the beautiful weather at your local cemetery and snap a few pictures! Register for BillionGraves now! It’s FREE… and working!
NEW FEATURES: A SIGN OF SPRING!
The BillionGraves team has been hard at work over the winter months to bring you some very special additions to the website! As many of you already know, we have made some of these updates already available on the website! Better yet, there are even more coming soon! It’s like Christmas almost every day at BillionGraves!
To showcase some of the changes that we have made we thought we would put together a little tutorial of the new/updated functions.
– LOTS of bug fixes
– Better handling of international languages on the transcription page
– Ability to transcribe and display Hebrew dates
– Transcription enhancements
– Localization into other languages has been completed for the following pages:
> Registration / Login
> Home page
> Search page
> Record page
> Cemetery page
> Transcription page
For those of you that really want to dig into the details, here is a diagram of where some the new changes appear.
1 – 4 (Transcription Filtering): To accommodate the increase in international records that have been flooding in, we have added increased functionality for filtering records by Country of origin, Cemetery, and Language. Now you can select the exact type of headstones that you are interested in. No more guessing or incorrect transcriptions are needed! We have thousands of native users in every language who are anxious to correctly transcribe these records! If you are unsure, please skip the record and leave it to another user to correctly transcribe.
1 (Transcription by Country): Choose what Country to Transcribe from. This was created to allow you flexibility in what country you want to transcribe records.
2 (Transcription by Cemetery): Transcribing by specific cemetery was created to allow those who are doing service projects to have multiple people transcribing for that cemetery.
3 (Declare Headstone Language): We have added this special feature to help identify the language that is present on the headstone. This will allow us to then show this headstone to users who can accurately transcribe the headstone. To use this function, simply select the language of the headstone you see. If you know the language, continue with your transcription. If you do not know the language, click next after selecting the language you believe it is in. (Note if you are not sure of the language, click next and let another user determine the language)
4 (Transcription by Headstone Language Proficient in other languages? You can now select which Language you want to transcribe from. Simply choose the language you want and start transcribing.
5-6 (Hebrew Dates and Hebrew Transcriptions): We have added several new functions to handle Hebrew dates and Transcriptions. These functions are specifically designed to accommodate the incredible historical information that is contained on Jewish headstones all over the world.
5A (Show/Hide Hebrew Dates): The Hebrew dates are closed by default unless the headstone language is set to Hebrew. To open the Hebrew dates functions simply click on “Show/Hide Hebrew Dates” as depicted in 5A below. Once the options are open, you can enter in the applicable dates on the headstones. Hebrew dates support both Alpha and Numeric entries depending on the content of the headstone.
For example: Tue, 29 April 2014 = 29th of Nisan, 5774 = כ״ט בְּנִיסָן תשע״ד. All Entries are accepted by the new systems.
Note: On many Jewish headstones, a Gregorian and Hebrew date are listed. It is VERY IMPORTANT to enter ALL information contained on the headstone. We are able to capture both Gregorian AND Hebrew dates on the same headstone.
6A-6D: Basic/Advanced Options: To help simplify options that are not regularly used, we have created a Basic and Advanced mode. To expand these additional options, simply click on 6A: “+ Basic Options”.
5D (Hebrew Marriage Dates): Hebrew Marriage dates are included IF the Advanced Options AND Hebrew Dates have been expanded. Enter Hebrew marriage information the same way as other Hebrew Dates.
6B (Maiden Name): Enter in Maiden Name of the individual on the headstone.
6C (Marriage Dates): Enter in Marriage Dates of individuals on the headstone. Note: The date structure for all dates will change from DD/MM/YYYY to MM/DD/YYYY depending on the language and location of the headstone. Please be aware of this when transcribing headstones in other languages and countries.
6D (Age at Death): We have added the ability to add the age at death. Some headstones only contain the number of years a person lived instead of giving the birth or death date. Others are more specific with the number of years, months, and days. We are now equipped to handle this information and process it to give suggested birth/death dates. Note: Suggestions for birth/death dates will be added to this and search functions shortly.
7 (Others NOT Buried Here): This section is specifically designed to record individuals that are inscribed on the headstone and are NOT buried at that location. In many cultures it is common to designate relationships on headstones. This feature is ONLY for identifying individuals that are inscribed on the headstone and not for identifying relationships to other individuals.
7B (Show/Hide Others NOT Buried Here): The Others NOT buried here section is closed by default. To add an individual that is NOT buried, but listed on the headstone, simply click on the “Others NOT buried here” button as depecited in 7B.
7A (Adding an Individual NOT Buried Here): To add an individual not buried here, simply type in their Given and Family names. After doing this, it is REQUIRED to state the relationship of the individual you are adding. Relationships are very important and is how we are able to tie multiple headstones in different locations together. If the relationship is truly unknown, please select “unknown” at the bottom of the Relationship drop-down menu. After selecting a relationship, click “+ Add” and you and then enter in another individual.
To view and example of the difference between adding another individual and adding a person NOT buried there click HERE.
CHANGES TO THE WEBSITE:
We have added numerous updates to the website as a whole. Some are enhancements to current features that aren’t visible and others are features that you will interact with. The biggest enhancement is the
BillionGraves Website Language Selector:
Billion Grave users rejoice! You can now select what language you want to view the site in. By selecting the drop down box you can
choose from a number of different languages. This language selector will default to the language your computer and location is set to.
To manually change what language you are viewing, simply click the drop-down menu, and select the new language of your choice.
NOTE: Not every page is currently translated. The main pages are in beta, however updates to the languages are happening on a daily basis. If you notice any errors in our translations, please email email@example.com with the old and new translation.
MANY MORE FEATURES TO COME!
We have countless updates and new features that we will continue to add to the BillionGraves website as well as mobile applications. These updates will increase in frequency, so check back often for the latest and greatest! If you aren’t already a friend on facebook, like us now to stay up to date with all the new changes, prizes, and progress!
Like us on Facebook now! -> HERE
May is our annual Million More in May challenge and this year we are going to achieve our goal!! The warm weather is here! It’s time to dust off those shoes, charge up your phones, and get out to the local cemetery! It’s a great way to get out of the house, get your whole family involved, and know that you are helping millions of people around the world connect with their families!
A BIG THANK YOU!
Of course we would be nowhere without the help and feedback from each of you! We thank you for your continued efforts as we reach our goal of documenting and preserving the world’s cemeteries!
-The BillionGraves Team
After months of work in response to hundreds of user requests, BillionGraves has added several new features designed to validate and enhance the headstone records found on BillionGraves.
Introducing BillionGraves “Supporting Records”
The Supporting Record feature now allows users to upload evidence-based documents that support the BillionGraves records that have been collected through our mobile Apps. This means that users are now able to upload headstones, birth/death, burial, marriage, cremation, and many other types of records WITHOUT NEEDING A SMART PHONE!
[NOTE] BillionGraves will continue to emphasize the use of our mobile application to upload VERIFIED HEADSTONE RECORDS with their accompanying GPS locations and will remain a FREE resource to all.
Over the last 2 years, thousands of volunteers have uploaded millions of headstone photos with accompanying GPS locations from every corner of the globe. These records are viewed everyday by researchers around the world because these are VALIDATED and ACCURATE records. No fabrications. No interpretations. No assumptions. Here is an example of the information found currently on BillionGraves.
BillionGraves Headstone Record Example
- Headstone Photo
- Exact GPS Coordinates
- Transcribed Headstone Data
- Full Name, Date of Birth/Death, Epitaph, etc.
Thousands of records are being uploaded every day and are breaking down genealogy brick walls and making connections that once seemed impossible. While working closely with our users and genealogists we found that there were many headstones and burials that just couldn’t be accounted for with our current systems; including unmarked graves, cremation scatterings, destroyed stones, and so on.
Our Supporting Record features eliminate this problem while maintaining the validity and accuracy of the BillionGraves database.
Our new Supporting Records feature allows users anywhere in the world to add evidence-based documents that validate and create additional insight into headstone records found on BillionGraves. The addition of these Supporting Records will serve as an invaluable tool to genealogists in their research.
Here are some examples of supporting records:
Supporting Record Types
- Birth/Death Certificates
- Marriage Certificates
- Burial Records
- Cremation Records
- Unmarked Graves
- Military Records
- Headstone records WITHOUT GPS coordinates
- Any other type of record that supports and validates any BillionGraves Headstone Records
Let’s face it, we’ve all been plagued with headaches caused by incorrect/assumed information in our family trees. BillionGraves’ Supporting Records IS the solution to your problems!
By adding and linking supporting documents to headstones on BillionGraves, we are able to connect the dots between each headstone and each member in your family tree by using EVIDENCE and not assumptions. Creating an accurate family history to pass on through the ages.
How to get started?
Supporting records are already appearing in the search results. Search now, to see our Supporting Records in action!
To add Supporting Records of your own:
- Log in to your BillionGraves account. (Don’t have an account? Register for FREE today!)
- Select “Add Supporting Record” from the “Tools” drop-down menu to add one record at a time.
- To upload multiple records at once, select “Add Batch of Supporting Records” from the “Tools” drop-down menu.
Have headstone images, birth/death records, or documentation of unmarked graves? Use the new Supporting Records feature on BillionGraves today!
If you’ve ever taken pictures in a cemetery that is within a few blocks of a neighboring cemetery, you might have found that sometimes the images will end up in the wrong cemetery. This is especially common if you’re taking pictures along the edge of the cemetery.
For example, when you are in a cemetery, (see Cemetery 1 below) taking pictures, the BillionGraves app will automatically search for the nearest cemetery based on the cemetery marker (i.e. the star in example below). So even though you might be in Cemetery 1, the app might think you’re in Cemetery 2 because that cemetery marker is closer.
As you can see, this can be problematic if the images keep getting categorized in the wrong cemetery, so we developed a system called “Cemetery Boundaries” to fix it. When two cemeteries are very close together, we draw boundaries around each cemetery.
This new feature is still in the beta testing phase, but we need your help to test it out! Send us any cemeteries that are in need of having specified boundaries (i.e. two cemeteries that are close together) and we would love to set them up on BillionGraves. All you have to do is show us where the boundaries are and we can set them up for you. Here’s how:
Step 1: Look up the cemetery in Google maps. Go to https://maps.google.com/ and type in either the address or the name of the cemetery in the search bar in the top left corner. Then verify it’s the right location based on the map you see.
Note: If you have the Google Earth software, you can use it in lieu of Google Maps. You can also take a screen shot of the cemetery on BillionGraves.
Step 3: Paste the screen shot into Paint. Open up the Paint program (if you’re using a Mac, try PaintBrush) and right click. Click “Paste” and you should be able to see your screen shot in the Paint window.
Step 4: Use the paintbrush to draw a line around the cemetery boundary. Choose a color that will be easily recognizable.
Step 5: Draw any additional cemetery boundaries.
Step 6: Save the image and email it to firstname.lastname@example.org. From here, we will program the boundaries you specified into our systems. Then the next time you are in that cemetery, your BillionGraves app will correctly recognize and categorize your images into the right cemetery!
If you have any difficulty with this process or have any questions, please email email@example.com and we would love to help you!