21 August 2011

BillionGraves Review

BillionGraves consists of a website and smart phone app by AppTime, LLC.

Their goal is to get a billion graves (or more) put online.

The most successful venture in uploading headstone photos to date is Find A Grave with 66 million graves while BillionGraves only had about 50,000 graves two months past their launch.1

Find A Grave has been around for more than a decade. What makes BillionGraves think they can surpass 66 million? I don't know what makes each person think that, but I know why I think so. I've uploaded hundreds of grave images to Find A Grave so I am prepared to compare the services. I think BillionGraves has 2 keys to success.
  1. Smart Phones
  2. Crowd-sourcing transcriptions
What does a smart phone have to do with getting a billion graves?
  1. Increased Speed of Photography - With the Motorola Atrix 4G smart phone I was able to photograph images more quickly than I could with either my DSLR or my 14 megapixel Kodak. 
  2. The Phone's GPS Organizes Everything - It will put them in the correct cemetery and will GPS tag every photo's location exaclty. This feature is exciting for many reasons, such as keeping track of which headstones have been photographed already and helping descendents find the headstone should they want to visit in person. On Find A Grave you had to select which cemetery to upload your photos to after you took your camera home and transferred the photos to your computer.
  3. Instant Uploading - If you have a good data plan, upload images while you are taking more pictures. The phone does it for you, just set it up under the settings tab of the app. If your data plan is an issue you can simply wait until you get to WiFi, start the process, and the phone does the rest. You can even save more time by having your phone auto-delete images that have been uploaded.
How will crowd-sourcing help?

Crowd-sourcing means that anyone can help with transcription. All you have to do is go to BillionGraves.com and click Transcribe. The online transcribing form is easy to use. With Find A Grave you could transcribe them yourself or... oh, that is the only option. Personally, I am good at taking lots of pictures, but I can only transcribe a little at a time. This feature lets people help how they want to. You can even choose to only transcribe or to only photograph graves. It is kind of like a FamilySearch Indexing for graves.

Join today!
BillionGraves is in its infancy, but it is growing fast. This month all users who upload 1,000 or more grave images will receive a free BillionGraves t-shirt. I finished the challenge this morning. Hurry. There are only ten days left.

Which phones does BillionGraves work with? - iPhones and select Android phones
    1Gordon Clark of FamilySearch talks about the way services like BillionGraves will work with the FamilySearch Tree. He says BillionGraves has about 50,000 graves uploaded. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BsVUWIaU2w4

    BillionGraves' Goal
    We hope to provide an expansive family history database for records and images from the world’s cemeteries—but it’s not something we can do alone. We need you to help us by collecting images from your local cemeteries and transcribing the information those headstone images provide.

    Help us make family history research more accessible to everyone. Take the BillionGraves.com iPhone/Android app with you when you go to the cemetery and contribute to the grave image database. Even if you don’t have the gadgets required to collect images for BillionGraves, you can still help build the database by transcribing the images so anyone, anywhere, can find ancestors’ graves with just a few clicks of the mouse.


    1. Mike, you're a great example to me & I'm glad I was able to help a little with this goal!

    2. if crowd sourcing is their goal why don't they make it free?

    3. @Roger
      You are referring to the $2.99 charge for those who download the Free app, and decide to buy the Optional Records Search/View capability for the app. The records can be searched and viewed for Free using their website (even on a mobile device). Many people like the $2.99 record view because it feels easier to search in the app than on the website when you are using your mobile device. Nevertheless, I want to point out that All functionality is Free. The $2.99 is simply a redundant option to do the same thing you can already do for free on their site. I thought that BillionGraves made this pretty clear, but I guess not since you bring it up. Thanks for helping me clarify this for readers. All features of BillionGraves=Free, Extra convenience option for the Free app=$2.99 (the app is free, the option costs as an optional in-app purchase)


    Thanks for your kind and thoughtful comments.