If an orphaned profile has no info and is connected to nobody, may/can I adopt and merge it away? [closed]

+12 votes

If a profile is truly orphaned (no manager, no connection to parents or siblings, etc) is there any reason I should not adopt the profile and merge it into one of my existing profiles?  

Couldn't I pick up dozens of orphans like that and merge them all into my sister's profile for example?  Does it help the wikitree?  Any reason I should not do this?  

Thank you very much for your time and consideration.

Above is the original question posted.  Since then, throught the discussions below, I have expressed that the profiles of which I was speaking are unidentifyable.  Nothing but a name alone.  No dates of birth or death, no places or relations, no sources or managers.  Just bare-bones names sitting on ID#s.  Thank you all so much for your input!

closed with the note: Thank you all very much!
in The Tree House by Keith Hathaway G2G6 Pilot (606k points)
closed by Keith Hathaway

4 Answers

+5 votes
Best answer

Please don't merge it away. There might be a connection in the future when someone else might find info to help connect it to family.

Please use the Research Pending template on profiles that have no connection.(see below for links)

When you merge different profiles into one it can create a mess later. The profile might be involved in a bad merge in the future. Correcting bad merges can be tricky. This is why we don' merge away or merge a lot of profiles together.

THere are templates for this type of thing.





by Michelle Hartley G2G6 Pilot (153k points)
selected by Phil Grace
I have to agree with Michelle, I cannot even imagine taking a profile, changing data just to merge it away.
Hi Robin, thank you for your input.
+9 votes
No it doesn't help.  Merging creates a redirection from the existing ID to the ID you're merging into, to avoid broken links.  That's the main point - it's more about managing the IDs than the profiles.  But that's not what you're trying to achieve.

If you're sure that the ID on the orphaned profile hasn't been assigned to any real person, assign it to a real person by finding somebody with the same LNAB who hasn't got a profile yet, and filling in enough data to identify that person.
by Anonymous Horace G2G6 Pilot (568k points)
I appreciate your answer very much, but humbly admit I do not yet understand what you said...either part.  Sorry.  I will try to read up on the things you mentioned and educate myself better.  I will refrain until clear on the issue.

I do not understand why it is better to have an issolated name and number floating around rather than combining it into another.

Why would someone work all day to identify a person that may be entirely fictional?  And if they are, then what is the harm to the tree in merging them away?


Respectfully and with appreciation,

LNAB is Last Name At Birth. :) I think what RJ is saying is that it's better to recycle the number than waste it on a redirect merge. If there is a new profile that can be created using that profile number, that would be preferable. There's nothing wrong with what you are offering to do, there just may be a few other options. We do appreciate the desire to clean up the tree wherever you are!

Hi Robert,

Great question!  And it does open up a whole bunch of complicated issues.  One is the problem of re-directs.  Here's a great explanation of that http://www.wikitree.com/g2g/51703/behind-merges-identifying-lowest-numbered-profile-correct

So, if you do complete a merge to "merge it away," which is perfectly acceptable, just make sure you merge into the final profile, or the lowest numbered profile (with the correct spelling of the last name at birth).  Otherwise, you could create (or maybe contribute to) a re-direct.

The other is how WikiTree works, which is really by Profile IDs.  So if you change the spelling of the last name at all, it wil assign a whole new ID # (thereby back-firing on any idea to simplify things).  I learned this when I tried to change a name  UNKNOWN into Unknown, and started a whole new profile number!

So in order to recycle a profile ID (or number), you need to use exactly the same last name.  Otherwise, all data is changable.  Maybe you could find a family where there were several children, but only one child has a profile already in WikiTree.  That's where I might start.  Maybe choose a child with a first name which is not too common (to make searching for duplicates easy).  Then do a search for existing profiles, just so you make sure you don't make a duplicate.

A lot of nuances, aren't there?  Not at all sure I understand all of it yet (not a programmer).  It's just one of those things where I learn something new every day, and that's one of the best parts . smiley

Well said! Thank you.
I looked through the abandoned profiles and came across several that were siblings to my great great great grandparents and I had information on these individuals.  I have adopted the profile and added document information to these profiles.  If they had been merged away I would never have seen them and been able to up date them.
Thank you for sharing Carolyn.

I'm not sure you understood fully.... the profiles that we were talking about originally and as are described in the question are ones that are not anone.  They are not identifyable by anything other than a name like William Smith.  There was nothing whatsoever as to identify them as any William Smith in particular; no dates of birth or death, no locations or relations, no sourses, no manager, etc.  Just a name.  

I appreciate your input though.... It all adds to the WikiTree pool of knowledge!

+3 votes
Robert, Hello!  Are you saying, "This orphanened profile only has an ID# with a full name, or only LNAB with no other information?"  Sorry, cause that is the whole idea of someone adopting an orpan file is to take care of it by trying to get more information about the person not delete it or move it to another profile where it doesn't belong.  If, you redirect it to another profile to someone with a LNAB what is that profile manager suppose to do with it?  However, if, you do redirect it put a note with it explaining it was an orphaned file with no details so, the next person who sees it knows where and why it came from.  Appreciate your question.  Perhaps one of the staff members could put their input on this or one of the technical support people who know more about it.  But, just wanted to state my concern.
by Barbara Jean Duren G2G6 Mach 3 (35.1k points)
Good points Barbara.  I originally did not know about the number connection to the LNAB, but now have a good idea due to the responses above.  Now I would still submit the same question but in regards to merging them into a real profile with the same LNAB.

I did express that I was only talking about truly orphaned profiles in that they had nothing whatsoever as to identify them to someone...only a name.  No birthdate, no parents, no spouce, no children, no locations, no sources... nothing.  What says they were ever a real person at all?  Of course I would and have looked up some of these poor orphans to see if I could findagrave or whatever...often to no avail.  

Given the complete anonymity of the profiles I'm speaking of, what would you think now?
+4 votes

Are you saying that the orphaned profile has the same name as your sister, but no other information?

How did you find this profile?  If it is not attached to any family tree and the name matches your sister, and the profile number is bigger than your sister's profile, then I do not see the harm in merging it.

I do not understand what other action can be taken with this profile.

Just my thoughts,

Hi anonymous.... I was on the page to rescue orphaned profiles with my surname. For instance: if there is an orphaned profile for Jill Hathaway with no other information whatsoever, I was asking of adopting Jill, changing her name to Lisa and merging her with my sister Lisa Hathaway. Same last name at birth. And I too think, "What else could I possibly do, other than find another Jill Hathaway (no more the same person than my sister) and propose a merger?" Still learning and appreciating the help from everyone. Thank you.
Thank you Vicki!
Hi Robert and Vicki,

I tend to agree with Vicki. I would very likely create a G2G post with specfics.
How would anyone deal with this family (not Hathaways) ?


Whoever entered the people's names used only first innitials then abandoned the whole family.  Is there someone (realy) who is going to try to track them down based on no birthdates, locations, or first names?  What should be done with them / or what could someone like me do to help deal with them?
Have you sent a message to the original profile manager to see if he might have more information? I know the profiles abandoned but it's worth a try.
At the link you gave, go to the beginning profile (H. Hoag). Then you can click on his father, and then HIS father -- Solomon Hoag, who has dates & places, and appears in the 1850 census with, apparently, some of his descendants. It's a start.
Nan is right. There is data for some of the ancestors. You could add estimated birth dates based on the parents ages. (note this on the profile with the date guess template). Hopefully someone will come along and fill in the research.
I have found this in a couple of cases in the Lee Family (disconnected profiles with just a first and last name0...where I recognize 5 siblings names, and then find the parents already merged into the correct parents, but, the siblings got left behind due to someone not understanding how to do a multi generational merge.   I would rather someone spent the time to investigate that just "merge away" profiles.   Someone spent the time to enter the data, let's respect their effort and do a little research.   I disagree with Cynthia that this is OK to do as long as you merge into the lowest number....

''How would anyone deal with this family (not Hathaways) ?''


The person who uploaded this gedcom is a very active person at Wikitree, though no longer manager of these profiles.  I think you were only quoting that line as an example, but the best thing to do in this instance would probably be to contact him, and certainly not to merge the family away.  Incidentally, he has remained profile manager of Solomon Hoag-190, mentioned above by Nan.



Now that I understand your proposal more completely, I would not take an orphaned profile named Jill and change to Lisa just to eliminate an orphan.
I agree.  Thank you Viki, and everyone else.
Hi Robert,

What if you used it for a new Hathaway profile instead of your sister.
Thanks for your comment Guy, but this conversation was all done long ago.  To me, collectively, the answer was to leave the questionable profiles alone.  In answers to the same question posed by others the answer is always do it, or the "Borge" way (fram Star Trek).  I'm personally going to spend my efforts on other projects.  Have a super day.

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