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Select language of headstones

On 6/26/2018 I tried to transcribe records. I set the language to English, clicked done, an promptly got headstones in Hebrew, Russian, and Croatian. After 5 attempts I went back, set English (no country, no cemetery) and had the same results.

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Yes - we all have this problem. And have had it for some time. There are several serious flaws in the filter systems, and I think the programming team has tried to come up with fixes, but it is a tricky part of the website. My observations and suggestions for further discussion:

1. I have suggested that when someone adds a new cemetery and 90% of the stones in that cemetery are in a particular language there should be some way to set a language at the outset for the entire cemetery, so all the photos are coded for that language. Then if during transcription someone encounters a stone in a different language they can reset it for just that stone. 

2. I have also suggested in the past that someone in the staff should sort through the multitude of cemeteries represented in the "all languages" and "unknown language" groups and do what I have suggested in #1. This would clear the backlog of some 40,000 images and make it easier for those who can transcribe in other than English to find records in their language. 

3. The fundamental flaw seems to be that English is set for the default language, but when photographers upload images from non-English stones, they also go to "all languages/language unknown. 

4. There should be a way to "mark" certain images as untranscribable, so they don't keep coming up in that open queue. I would not want this to be an open to anyone option, but if we keep seeing the same bad image, report to staff to have it removed or hidden from the queue. 


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@DSWright- The problem has more to do with having too many transcribers and not enough photo takers. Many of our users are older than 65, it is really hard for them to get out into a cemetery to take photos. They love to contribute in a small way and so they like to transcribe.

Most of our photo takers are younger, but there are not as many of them. Also many of our older photo takers want to ensure that their photos are not transcribed poorly, so they place a 14 day hold on the photos and transcribe many of these without releasing these into the general pool. ( I know many many users who fall into this category.)

We also have more English transcribers as we have many users in the United States, New Zealand, Canada, Australia and the United Kingdom. In fact, this is where most of our users are currently located, and English is what they feel most comfortable with in the transcribing process. When English records are released to the public, our site becomes like a children's Easter egg hunt for adults. People scramble rather quickly to snap up as many transcriptions as they can on English stones.  When all of these are done, all that is left is the non-English transcriptions whether these are in English speaking countries or abroad, this is what is left. I know this to be a fact as I recently traveled from Utah to Alabama, Georgia and Tennessee for family cemetery photos. I stated that I wanted to do my own transcriptions, but there were over 2,000 of these. I probably transcribed about 200 of these on my own before their release date on July 10th These were completed within 36 hours of being released to the general public.  What needs to happen is this....we need more English photo's just that simple. 

I will try to respond to all of your comments from a support  standpoint. 

#1-Cemetery languages are set depending upon the home country and location of the cemetery. Also, users can mark these stones in other languages, as well, during the transcription process.  Languages can be set for just one stone, and moved through the que. 

#2-People are always able to change the transcription language. This is up to the user to do. I have never had a complaint about lack of transcriptions in other languages besides English due to the problems I mentioned above. 

Those who speak other languages actually have the advantage on our website, as they do not have to fight others for transcriptions. I have NEVER had a complaint about transcriptions from any of our users in Brazil, Germany, Russia, Ukraine, Poland or any other country for that matter. All complaints about lack of transcriptions come from our English speaking users, due to too many transcribers and not enough photo takers.

#3- The default set in languages comes from the user, it also comes from the geographic location of where the photos were taken. If the home country is Brazil all of the stones in the cemetery will be marked in Portuguese.  If a user finds a Greek, Hebrew, or Spanish stone within Brazil, these can be marked on an individual basis and moved through the que.  

#4- As far as setting stones as untranscribable, this we do not want to do. There are many users on our site, such as myself who love to figure out who the stones belong to, and are usually very good at it. If there are fingers covering headstones, poor quality photos or just really no legible writing on a stone, these can be sent to support to be deleted with the URL, as I do this all of the time. However, it is up to BillionGraves discretion which stones are illegible. You would be amazed at stones people mark as illegible, because they do not want to figure out a puzzle. 

Thanks for your careful and thoughtful respones. I am one of those OLD people who have a hard time getting out to photo, but still do when I can. And, I do understand that the supply of photos is exceeded by the transcription demand. 

But I do have some questions related to your aswers above.

@1 - @3 - I use Android photo/smart phone and Chrome on laptop. Never have I seen an option to set the language of my photos to any language. Do you mean that if I went to a cemetery in Canada where all these stones were in Ukrainian, there should be some way that I could set that batch to Ukrainian? If so, please put those directions in the help pages.  When I do get my own images, they don't come up with English already assigned in that drop-down box. 

I do a lot of corrections from the index, and I really don't think #3 is the case. I see a lot of stones for Brazilian, Polish, Russian or Israeli graves that come up in the queue and they are not already marked for Portuguese, or Polish, Russian or Hebrew. I know because I will sometimes just do about 15 minutes of language assignments from the general feed. If the system can recognize that someone is in Brazil, but not know that they are in the Hebrew cemetery, then all the Brazilian stones should be tagged Portuguese, but they are not. 

One of the points about this that the many English transcribers are upset about is that they can set the filter to English, and keep getting the same non-English stones. The filters ought to go a few repeats and then just say" there are no more stones in English (or This Language). 

4. As for #4, as you know, I actually enjoy the detective work needed to make a transcription correct. I guess what I would like is some better instructions on how people should deal with what they might think are  "untranscribables".  But that is another topic. I do usually report "bad" photos, unless they very inappropriate, as I figure at some point in the future BG will use some image analysis software to sort out the "readable" images from the "unreadable". Or even scan the images and predict the language(s) on the stone prior to transcription. How's that for an idea? 

Best regards, DS

Hi Donna,

After writing this yesterday and discussing this as a team, we have decided that some help articles are needed on this topic, and they will becoming out soon!  I do like your idea about a pop-up for there are no more English Translations. I will speak to my team about this tomorrow and see if this is a possibility. 

#3- We need people to mark these as they come across them. Our development and technical crews both emphatically declare that languages are set depending on geographic location. There are always anomalies, however. We do need people to set stones in languages if these are not correct in the que. This is done by clicking the blue button next to the red flag button. You scroll down to the language presented on the headstone. I tried this yesterday setting my languages to English and chose an American Jewish Cemetery. All the stones were in Hebrew. I set each of these stones as Hebrew and they went out of my I do know this works. 

#4- The technology isn't quite there yet.  I just tell people when they find a blurry or unreadable photo to send it in to support. It is at their discretion if the photo will be removed for sure, but most of the time if there is a better photo to replace the poor quality photo they will remove it with no problem as long as a URL is attached to both, so they are easy to view. 

I do want you to know that your work on our site is totally appreciated!  We couldn't do this without you and all of those who work tirelessly to ensure quality!  Thank you!  

P.S. I will try to get help desk articles out in the next day or two explaining the process with languages...

I have been trying to transcribe photos for several weeks but after setting language, country e.g. USA, with about 1500 to be transcribed I keep getting message that there are no photos to transcribe.  What am I doing wrong?  Never had this problem before. any help would be appreciated


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Was the above question ever answered about receiving the RED ERROR BOX about there not being any photos to transcribe?

Also, since I'm still knind of new here... Can someone LMK if I am properly understanding which "Language dropdown" is being referenced... 

Please correct me:

-The drop-down at the very top right of the screen (in the bar that's almost black)... that is the language for the site... in the US, it's typically English. yes? no? 

-Then, the little square blue button, that's seen in the upper-right of my taken image... that is for setting the language of the headstone. yes? no? 

-Then the square white button to right of the name fields, which has the same "translate" symbol as the blue button... this is for special symbols within the chosen language of the blue button on the photo. yes? no?


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