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asked in New to BillionGraves by BillionGraves Admin BG Master (157k points)
closed by BillionGraves Admin

2 Answers

11 like 0 dislike
Best answer

To make sure that quality photos are being uploaded, Transcribers now have the ability to rank every photo that passes through their hands by giving them a Thumbs Up (great photo!) or a Thumbs Down (Needs some improvement…). Transcribers will rate each photo based on the photographers quality picture and NOT the quality of the headstone.

Here is how the scoring breaks down.

5 stars - 99+%  (1 out of  every 100 can be bad)
4 stars - 98+%  (1 out of every 50 can be bad)
3 stars - 96+%  (1 out of every 25 can be bad)
2 stars - 92+%  (1 out of every 12 can be bad)
1 star -   83+%  ( 1 of of every 6 is bad)
0 stars - less than 83%
Note: Only Images Marked as "Photo is Blurry or Unreadable" are considered against the Score. 

You will find these new functions on the transcription pages where you can easily select a Thumbs Up/Thumbs Down rating for each image on every record. 

Transcription rating


If you select a thumbs down rating, we want to know why! A thumbs down will “report” the image and ask you why it was a bad picture. Was the picture blurry or unreadable? Is theheadstone unreadable? etc. This is extremely important because only photos that are blurry or unreadable are counted in the rating. We don’t want to penalize photographers if the headstone is just a stone that is too damaged to read.

Only photos where the image quality is poor will be counted against a photographer’s rating. The other ratings will just help us identify what pictures need extra help or special attention in the future! No grave should be lost or forgotten! So rating them properly will help us give attention where it is needed!


Thumbs Down Reporting Screen

To help you keep track of your status, the user ratings will be displayed on your individual Dashboard and monthly Leaderboard pages. So keep an eye on these pages to up to the minute updates on your ratings!

Rating on Dashboard

Rating on Dashboard Page

Rating Display on Leaderboard

Rating on Leaderboard Page


This is especially important for photographers as we will be basing our prize giveaways on their total number of pictures taken AND their overall picture ranking. Photographers must maintain a photo ranking of a 4 or higher to be eligible to win.  We will continue to enhance this feature to provide more and more insights into your transcribing and photographing efforts! For those of you who take the time to take great pictures and transcribe everything on the record, we want you to be noticed for doing a great job! :)

Now all is not lost if your score drops! You can fix flagged or reported images!! Simply check out this link to get that shiny 5 star rating! http://community.billiongraves.com/2149/how-do-i-fix-flagged-reported-images

Transcribers, we’re counting on you to help us with this! You have been asking for this feature and we’re putting it into your hands. Thank you for your help! Obviously, this process will be heavily moderated for accuracy!



BillionGraves Support Team

answered by BillionGraves Admin BG Master (157k points)
selected by BillionGraves Admin
I have uploaded a few photos and sometimes, no matter what you do, you are NOT going to get a better picture. It is a but rude, when a transcriber sees that it a "little", and i mean LITTLE difficult to read a marker, simply marks it unreadable. Not fair to the dead, the photographer and/or the researcher/family.

As for standing to one side of the marker to take the photo, this is to avoid shadows and reflections of the photographer and oft times, to reduce glare. A little more respect should be takes of the photographer and less critical on their work.

I have personally visited and photographed EVERY readable (and some un readable) markers in over 200 cemeteries. this has cost me hundreds of dollars in fuel getting from one place to the next and there is also the data costs uploading the photos.

It is fine to be a stay at home transcriber and do the vital work that you do, but it just cost you your time and data. Please don't be too hard on us. From bitterly cold winter winds in Australia and stinking heat and SNAKES in the summer, ours is not an easy lot either.

Thanks for reading this.

Andrew Barfoot
Thank-you for what you do-this whole point system makes me very annoyed. I would rather skip something I am guessing at, or can only read part of, because I want to make sure what I transcribe is clear. My thoughts is that if someone else can make it out better than me, then thats fine. Sometimes i do wonder if the photographer could see something that hasn't transcribed into the photo , as to me it is completely unreadable. However i sometimes find that ones taken on the side are more readable than ones taken frontwards, especially with the son on them.. I appreciate the job you are doing, please ignore the knockers, there is always a few!
Sometimes one has to take the photo to one side due to the sun's placement.  I do this when shooting straight on would put the sun directly into my lens.

Thank you for your time.  I'm new, and each time out I learn something new. Thanks for the feed back. cool

0 like 0 dislike
I  was a bit shocked why anyone would put dislikes , I suppose because they are graves of family members, one my dad ,and my mother who was murdered ,and a grandaughter .
answered by janine BG Beginner (140 points)

I understand what you are saying, but remember, we're talking about rating photos, not deceased people. Rating a photo as bad is in no way a slur against the deceased person, or their family, or their headstone.

In fact, it's quite the opposite. It shows great respect to the deceased. It's saying: the photographer can do better than this.

When a transcriber rates a photo as bad, they're in effect saying: "I respect this deceased person too much to allow a bad photo of their headstone on BG. The deceased mattered to someone during their lifetime. Someone cared enough to erect this headstone in their memory. Very likely the deceased still matters to someone. They deserve the very best picture on BG that it's possible to take. They don't deserve to have a crummy photo which has been taken at night by the light of a torch, or in dazzling sunlight so you can't read the inscription properly, or with the photographer's shadow covering half the headstone so it's completely black, or from twenty feet away so you can't read the inscription properly, or with half their name chopped off, or so blurry that you can't read it, or with the photographer's reflection in the photo, or with the photographer's foot visibly plonked on top of the grave, or with the photographer's children lined up and posed behind the headstone."

All of these things have been complained about on this Community forum at one time or another. That last one, with the group of children in the photo, caused great distress to the daughter of the gentleman buried there, and she had to ask BG to have the photo removed. It would have caused much less distress to her if the transcriber had simply rated the photo as bad and not transcribed it.

Rating a photo as "Bad Photo" simply gets the photo out of the transcription queue and sends it back to the photographer. It conveys the message: you can do better than this. Hopefully, the photographer will return to the cemetery and take a better one.

If you're taking your own photos of your loved ones' graves for BG, and you're happy with your photos but you're worried someone else might rate them as bad and that would upset you, you could always transcribe them yourself. Most people who take photos of their own family members' graves do exactly that. That way, no one else gets a chance to rate the photos - the rating symbols are only visible during the transcription process. Once the transcription is finished, the rating symbols disappear.

I hope this has helped explain the process and caused you to feel a bit less shocked.

In reply, as a photographer, you have no right to even think you know what is in a photographers head. You have no idea.

Sure, there must be some pretty bad photos submitted. I have unfortunately even done so myself. it is a bit hard to see what you have photographed on a "telephone" screen in the brilliant sunshine! When I photograph a cemetery, I take photos of EVERY marker in the cemetery and many that are marginal in readability, hoping the transcriber, whoever that may be can read it.

I get upset, and I guess other photographers do also, when a photograph is "rejected" and when the photographer looks at it, there is basically NOTHING wrong with the picture - perhaps a little hard to read or a bit hard to type an unusual name OR, the photo is rejected because everything is readable except the day or the month is not clear. Perhaps a name like Robert is missing the "e" -  "Rob rt" so the entire picture is rejected.

When there is 200, 300 up to my highest image taking day of 1975 images, if I stopped to look at every picture I would never get the job done.

I wonder how some transcribers would get upset if they were transcribing 17, 18, 19 and even 20 century birth certificates. Would most of them be rejected because the writing was not clear?

It is NOT always easy or straight froward.

Andrew Barfoot

No one is expecting photographers to stand in the cemetery and check every photo they take on a tiny screen with the sun glaring on it. I agree, it's often very difficult. I've stood beside a photographer in the cemetery and watched him trying to do it. I could barely even see the picture, so I don't know how he managed it. I've also seen him struggle to take a decent closeup picture with the Android version of the BG app, which doesn't have auto-focus.

So I'm not unsympathetic to the difficulties that photographers face. They are very real, and have been much discussed here. I encourage photographers to keep raising the problems and to share possible solutions.

But it's not too much to expect photographers at home, after they upload their photos, to click through them one by one and cull the bad ones. They have two weeks to do it before the photos hit the transcription queue. If a photographer doesn't have time to do that, they don't have time to do the job properly. Too many photographers are just uploading every photo they took and then walking away without exercising any reasonable critical judgement over their own work.

I see many examples of horrendous, disrespectful photos, that the relatives of the deceased would be horrified and distressed to see on BG representing their loved ones. The number of bad photos I've seen would now total in the thousands. I've seen complaints from distressed relatives here in this forum, and I've been contacted privately by other people asking how they can get the awful photo of their loved one's grave removed. Many examples of bad photos have been posted in this forum. Some of those examples have been posted by other photographers!  So if you think this is a transcriber vs photographer debate, you're mistaken. There are many BG photographers who feel as strongly about bad photography as I do.

Photographers do not have some divine right not to have their own photos judged, any more than transcribers have the right not to have their transcriptions judged. We're all trying to give BG the best and most accurate repository of data, in a way that will demonstrate most respect to the deceased and their loved ones. No one's hurt feelings - not the photographer's, not the transcriber's - get to take precedence over that.

I wonder how some transcribers would get upset if they were transcribing 17, 18, 19 and even 20 century birth certificates. Would most of them be rejected because the writing was not clear?

Of course not. Strawman argument. The BG equivalent of such a document is Bad Headstone. Bad Headstone and Bad Photo are two entirely different things. My comment above relates to Bad Photo.

you have no right to even think you know what is in a photographers head. You have no idea.

What's in a photographer's head is not relevant to the discussion. What matters is the end product - the photo - and it's easy to tell the difference between a bad headstone, that the best photographer on the planet couldn't make legible no matter how hard they tried, and a bad photo.

It is NOT always easy or straight froward.

No one ever said it was. But the many BG photographers I am acquainted with have no problem at all judging their own photos and culling the bad ones, and submitting the remaining photos to transcribers to be rated and transcribed. They know that if they've judged their own photo as good enough to stay in the queue, then it's the very best photo they could have taken of this headstone and no one could have taken a better one. Even if the stone itself is virtually unreadable, they will not be penalised for it. It may get a Bad Headstone rating, but it should not get a Bad Photo rating, because it is not a bad photo.

Let me just say, I have GREAT respect for transcribers.

I have read what you have said and I for the most part, agree. There are a couple of trivial things but ... it does not matter.


Andrew Barfoot

The respect is mutual. I have great respect for BG photographers and the difficult job they're faced with under often very trying conditions. I have accompanied a BG photographer several times, and it can be a hard slog in cemeteries where the ground is uneven and muddy and the graves are haphazardly arranged. Unless you're strolling around a beautifully laid out lawn cemetery, it can be strenuous work.

I also agree with your edited point that some transcribers do rate far too harshly. That's a real problem, and I don't blame you for feeling annoyed. I said in this post here that I make strenuous efforts to find out from sources external to BG the bits of the headstone that are faded or obscured or didn't come out clearly enough, and I encourage other transcribers to do the same. I would never give a Bad Photo rating to "Rob rt" when everything else is perfectly fine. I'm not interested in scoring points off photographers or wagging a finger at them. I just want the best outcome for the deceased's family and for BG. If that means I have to do a bit of research before I can complete a transcription, I'll happily do it.

And as for illegible headstones (as opposed to bad photos), I tend to skip them anyway, thinking that perhaps the photographer knows more about the grave than I do. Just because I can't tell who is buried there doesn't mean the photographer doesn't know.

But I'll never apologise for giving a Bad Photo rating to genuinely ineptly-taken photos (the examples I gave in my first answer above). They are photos the photographer should have deleted before they ever got as far as the transcription queue.

Thank you for an interesting debate. Regards.

I take both pictures of headstones, and I transcribe.  I do my best to take great photos, different angles, wet down the stone, shade the stone..what ever I can do to get the best shot(s) to make transcribing easy. When I transcribe..If I see a photo that I can't read, I will simply skip the photo for a short while, allowing other 'eyes' to view it and maybe they will be able to read it. In the end it's about getting the correct information in, not the most.  If a stone is readabe in the cemetery, but the photo is questionable....take the time to transcribe right there. Chances are...it's harder to read the photo than the stone. Then the information is correct and I think that is truly the ultimate goal.

Thank you, Gayle. I agree with many of your comments. Unfortunately, if the cemetery is heavily "treed" then you often have to crawl under low hanging branches to photograph the stones. The older the cemetery or the more rural, you are faced with weeds, bushes, and even wildlife. (I have encountered deer, elk, raccoons, and poison ivy that is taller than me.) 

I carry photography reflectors to improve reflected light; a spray bottle with water to spray the letters to increase contrast;  grass clippers, a soft brush, a broom, and a trash bag to clear off the stones.  Still it may be impossible to get a good photograph. I take the time to take notes on the headstones I photograph. I have even gone to the Cemetery Office or the Family History Library to research really old headstones that are difficult to read.  I try to transcribe my own photos but at one cemetery, there is someone who jumps in on my photos within an hour of my uploading the images. Photographers are suppose to be given 2 weeks to transcribe before the photos enter the "transcription" photo cue.  It is very discouraging to see someone rush through the transcription and enter only the years and/or family names.  They receive the transcription credit, but I still go back and enter my researched information.  This is out of respect for the families of the deceased who may someday search for their ancestor's information particularly when the headstone is no longer readable.  If you have ever visited a cemetery that is over 100 to 200 years old, we know the headstones will deteriorate and the information will be lost.  Everyone volunteering here should remember why we do this . . .  to establish a virtual cemetery that can help people research their family members even when the actual cemetery has been covered by weeds or the headstones worn smooth by acid rain. 

Remember to respect other volunteer's time and effort.  Neither the photography or transcription efforts are easy.  Both tasks require attention to details.  Remember, volunteers are participating out of the goodness of their hearts and no amount of respect and admiration is too much!

So is it a bad photo if I can't read the headstone because no one would at least brush away the dead grass or move the fake flowers a little so that I could read it or should I just transcribe it anyway quessing the incorrect name or birth or death dates so that someone looking for the headstone won't match up with what I transcribed? And how do I transcribe the headstones that don't have a last name on them because whoever took the picture didn't connect the picture with the name on the family marker? Can BG maybe add an option for missing last name? the pictures are good but no last name how can anyone find out if it's there family or not?