Merges are Too Complicated for Me - I Don't Want to Foul Anything Up

+11 votes
I'm still getting my feet wet about how genealogy research works.  I understand that before merging, more than just the 2 names I found need to be checked to find the lowest number of multiple records for the same person ... but I really don't know if the 2 I found are the same person to start with.

I was looking at Strauss names to see if any of the editing I just did on several unsourced profiles created any duplicates.  I happened to notice Strauss-219 and Strauss-260, which are not any that I have worked on, but look like they might be duplicates.  Both were created in 2013 and never touched after that - one is a guest member.  For this reason, I didn't try writing to the managers - even if the member manager responds, I hardly think he'll know how to handle merges.

For this reason, I want to bring this to the attention of someone who DOES know how to figure out if a merge is appropriate.

in Genealogy Help by Gaile Connolly G2G6 Pilot (838k points)
retagged by Keith Hathaway
Wow Gaile!  What a great question to bring to G2G and what great answers you have gotten along with an offer of mentoring!  I love how collaboration works!  Mags

7 Answers

+7 votes
Best answer
Merging is a learning process for everyone! You made the first step by asking for help here. We're here to help. Strauss-29 & Strauss-260 appear to be duplicates. One profile belongs to a guest who hasn't been confirmed as a member yet. I would propose the merge. If after 30 days there's no approval from the managers it will default approve. Then a sys/op will decide after that point due to privacy on both profiles. Does this help? If you would like a mentor I will gladly help you.
by Michelle Hartley G2G6 Pilot (152k points)
edited by Michelle Hartley

Thank you so much for your offer of "mentorship", which I am thrilled to accept!  I only hope I don't make so much of a nuisance of myself with dumb questions that you regret the offer.

If I may, I will keep you informed about any time I make a match or merge to make sure I don't do bad things here while I'm learning.  Of course, I'll ask in advance if I'm unsure of what I'm doing.

Gaile, No question is dumb unless you intend to ask if you are alive. .Lol! I'm glad to help. I never regret helping someone learn. I will send you a pm.
+5 votes
You can propose a merge without completing the merge if you are not sure yet.
by Dale Byers G2G Astronaut (1.4m points)
+9 votes
Bad merges are the enemy.  Ask not whether they might be the same, but whether they might be different.
by Anonymous Horace G2G6 Pilot (566k points)
Hear, hear!!!

My problem is that I don't know how to assess the evidence, so I need someone monitoring me to make sure I do no harm here..


If you're intersted in assessing evidence, I strongly recommend Elizabeth Shown Mills' Evidence Explained. The first chapter in particular does an amazing job of summarizing the value and importance of evidence analysis.  If you don't want to buy the tome, you can follow her excellent online blog:


+6 votes
You can also set them as unmerged matches rather than proposing a merge. If you go that route, put a comment on each profile explaining why you think they might be the same but are uncertain.  That'll both notify the profile managers, if they're at all active, and be available to arborists or general WikiTreers who look at the profiles.
by Sharon Casteel G2G6 Pilot (111k points)
+6 votes

Most merges aren't too complicated, but this one is. This is a case where there is so little info on each profile that I'd probably leave them alone, too.

While it's often a good option, I wouldn't set the profiles as an unmerged match in this case, because there isn't enough info to say they are probably the same person. David Strauss is a common enough name that these two profiles are unlikely to be duplicates. If they were named something like Romeo McGillicuddy, that would be different. 

In the family of Strauss-219, there are parents and a sister named, plus a private brother, but no dates. Presumably, the manager does have dates.

For Strauss-260, the guest profile represents a person who came on WikiTree as a vistor in December 2013. We don't know if he's been back or not. He may have been using the site extensively for research, but just not adding to the tree. By looking at the names of family members, he should be able to tell if he is a match with Strauss-219. 

One option would be to write Strauss-260 a private message asking him to check out Strauss-219 and see if they are duplicates.

If you hear back, then you could set them as a rejected match, propose a merge, etc., if he can't do it.

P.S. I realize now that you were talking about merging other rofiles into these lower numbers. If you start with asking 260 to look at 219, then you can ask whether he matches any of your people.

by Carole Partridge G2G6 Mach 7 (70.6k points)

I had been thinking about an idea I've heard expressed about having way too many empty profiles here.  That's why it occurred to me that a merge might be the way WikiTree would want to go to get rid of the guest profile that has absolutely no information in it.

Please remember, though, that I am clueless, which may well lead to worthless ideas!.
Beginner's mind is good!

We DO want to merge away old open profiles, but at this point, we are leaving guest profiles as they are, because they represent (mostly) living people who may come back to confirm their membership, etc.

In general, when I'm looking for the lowest numbered LNAB (Last Name at Birth) to merge into, I only look for those with green and white privacy settings.

I usually don't even consider merges for people born after 1900, unless they are in my family.
Presumably it will have got the guest user's email address in it?  He needs that to log in with.
+5 votes
I feel your pain, but I don't have an answer. I anxiously await a response from one of the more experienced members. I'm just discovering the point about finding the lowest number. Then there's the different last name at birth and which to choose. Right now, I have about 40 proposed merges that I believe are legitimate, but needing approval from a manager. It's daunting. The "find matches" process doesn't pull up matches for different spellings of the name, first nor last.
by Jacqueline Girouard G2G6 Mach 6 (61.6k points)
+7 votes

Hey, Gaile - two things here; 1.)  You aren't harming anything by proposing a merge.  If it's wrong, it's up to the PMs to figure that out.  They're the ones that presumably have some knowledge of the person the profile represents.  2.)  There isn't enough information on either of those profiles for anyone (except those PMs) to know whether they're a match or not.  All you have is a name in common.  There are no dates or places on either one.  One has some very limited family connections, but those also have no dates, no places.

For myself, I don't think I'd bother proposing that merge.  There really is nothing to go on but a name.  On the other hand, it would hurt nothing to propose it.  It's up to the PMs to figure out if they are the same person.

by Fred Remus G2G6 Mach 4 (40.7k points)

Thank you for this valuable information.  I am still concerned, though, about these cases being inactive profile managers and I wouldn't want to see these merges automatically happen in 30 days if nobody objects ... or am I misinterpreting how it works?

That is another reason for my saying, "I don't think I'd bother proposing that merge."  If I saw that auto-approved, with neither PM approving, I still wouldn't merge it.  As I said, there's really nothing there to tell anyone these are the same person.

Gaile, after the merge is approved, whether the PM's do the approving, or the 30 days goes by and it auto-approves, someone still has to go back in and complete the now-approved merger.  So if you're still worried that a merge might not be right, don't complete the merge and let someone else do it or mark it as an unmerged match.  You could also bring the merge back to the G2G and tell us what you think and you'll have plenty of willing helpers to walk you through it.

I REALLY like what you're telling me here.  It makes me feel so much more secure about not risking doing more harm than good!!!

Thank you sooooooo much for your encouragement.

if there is privacy on the profile, you can't merge it after the 30 days if you aren't on the trusted list, surely? I have a whole pile of ones I proposed thinking the managers would want to do something, that are just sitting there, not completed.

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