When is it ok to create a duplicate profile?

+11 votes
As Arborists several of us are working through the large number of duplicate profiles and we've been running across profile owners that feel justified in creating duplicates.  Their logic seems to be that since they don't agree 100% with the dates or facts in a current profile that it is ok to create a duplicate.

The only reason to create a profile is if you believe it to be a unique individual.   If you've created a duplicate you need to take action as quickly as possible to merge it by working together with the other profile owner.

We've seen numerous situations where profile owners agree on the names of children, spouses, parents yet continue to add their own versions of profiles.  This clutters our WikiTree and is in violation of our honor code.

Jointly editing a profile and adding questions about facts and sources is what makes WikiTree unique.

In a rare case that you run across a profile owner that won't allow you to add information to their profile please notify the admins.    This has been addressed in our honor code.

So to answer my own question When is it ok to create a duplicate profile?  My answer is NEVER
WikiTree profile: Dorothea Henry
in Genealogy Help by Ed Burke G2G6 Mach 2 (23.2k points)
retagged by Philip Smith

I've not been here long, and many of my ancestors aren't here on WikiTree, so I've been very lucky so far.  I've only had two that were duplicates of the profile I was creating and they've both turned out wonderful.  What I do when I'm entering one of my "people" is when I go to add them and it comes back that someone else already has, I just don't finish the profile, leave the page I was working on without saving, and then get in touch with the other profile owner, as instructed.  I simply do not create a new profile for someone who has already been created.

If in the future it develops (as I'm sure it will once I get back far enough.) that the other profile creator is unresponsive, I'll notify someone with the ability to help the process along.  After all, my people aren't going anywhere, they're dead, right? And I still have all their information and documentation in its own place in my software.  So I don't get to add the father of Leah Romans right away.  I can still add her children and her spouse and her documentation, and ammend the profile when I'm added to her father's trusted list.

I struggled with this at first, but once I worked it out in my own head, it no longer became an issue for me.  The good news is that for some of my Meredith clan, profiles had been created and then abandoned, so I just adopted them.  Win-win!


That's the way to do it!
Um, I have just today discovered that I created duplicates without realizing it simply by misspelling some of the names.  Duh, Denise.  This WikiTree thing?  It's really HARD!  But in a totally good way.  It's forcing me to be very careful.

Totally agree that a duplicate profile should never be created!

Makes it a little hard to understand that this very thing can happen when a "new" ged.com is accepted.  Many times the "new" ged.com is based on the same "old" incorrect information/sources, but there it is again.

So we should not be "shocked" when duplicate profiles appear, when many are based on the same "sources" and carried on in "new" ged.coms.

OK, I'm off my soapbox -

4 Answers

+8 votes
Best answer

Along with others, I received a great lesson for a supervisor last week.  If you take a look at Burton-578, you will see how the conflicts were documented by the supervisor as the merges were done.   Then, all of the profile managers were "challenged" to find real sources that support their data.   The real issue is that many managers believe that another person's family tree is a "source".   There is so much "incorrect data" out there,  where one person puts something in a tree on one of the other family tree sites and then everyone copies it.   What I love about Wikitree is the focus on providing REAL Sources.

by Robin Lee G2G6 Pilot (755k points)
selected by anonymous
I like the commentary about sourses. I'm working from my fathers papers I don't consider hem a source, jus a daring place, same thing with first hand knowledge should be a starting place.

Trudy, they're still a source-- your father's papers. We shouldn't be discouraged from using and citing them. Here's an example of how Evidence Explained says to cite them (see Chapter 3 for more details and options; the following is derived from p 115):

Roach Family Notes. Charles Roach, Jr., compiler. MSS Notes, c. 1980-1985. Privately held by Trudy Roach, [address for private use,] Wallhala, South Carolina.

[I made that up based on what I found through your profile.]

+2 votes
Perhaps I'm too new at this...but if dates, husbands, wives and other important information doesn't gel with what I have and what I have is documented, then until it is worked out with the other profile owner, I don't feel we are doing justice to the public record by supporting undocumented information. How are we promoting the idea of preservation if we are preserving known mistakes? There does not appear to be a way to enter more than one answer for any type of information (dates for example).

Second, when adding more than one or two profiles at a time, it is simply too time consuming to review all of the proposed matches. This is ideal to do when only adding one or two, but it took 4 hours to add the 30 or 40 profiles I added last week and there was no way to check the matches before. I'm cleaning them up now as quickly as time allows, but it isn't ideal. In some cases like Dorothea you mention above, those merges were done before I found them and when I noticed the duplicates I sent out merge requests.

I don't know.....perhaps wikitree is not where I should be "parking' my information. I'd like a clear answer before I continue as I've spent the last 3 months adding documentation and names and have at least that much more to add in the coming 3 months or so. If I am in violation, I'd just as soon remove what I have and move on before investing so many more hours into something that is a problem.......
by Jennifer Kelly G2G Rookie (290 points)
My hope is that others reply to this as well.  Clearly the importing tools are getting better which will allow owners  to be more easily see if they have a duplicate or not.  I know that there are times that as we are working with many profiles that we'll occasionally get a duplicate but we need to be prompt about combining.  I'd be interested to see how others respond to this.
If you create a duplicate with the correct information, then that profile with incorrect information is still out there, still supporting undocumented information. So doesn't it make more sense to correct it? If you have a reliable source for a birth date, and someone else has a different birth date, with no source, you can replace that birth date.

As for the time involved, the way I see it, the time will have to be spent checking possible duplicates sooner or later. If you don't take the time to check them as your creating profiles, then someone will have to later. So that doesn't actually save any time.

It's important to remember that WikiTree isn't just a place to "park" your information. We're trying to build one tree here. And duplicates are never helping that goal. I hope that you will give the site a chance! The collaborative nature here really makes it unlike any other place you could upload your tree. :)

This may not seem like such a big deal when you consider a single profile but it quickly becomes magnified. Simply pick any surname you like.  (I've been working on Boone, Jefferson, Roosevelt recently).  But I just picked Lyman because of a marriage.  Type the surname into the search at the top of the page then sort by birthdate and Voila!  You can quickly see the scope of the issue.  Run you eyes down the page till you find a Richard Lyman.  There are 7 all virtually identical.  (here is the link to the search) http://www.wikitree.com/index.php?title=Special:Surname&s=LYMAN&order=dobup&u= It is far easier to solve these issues when you start with the oldest ancestor.  So, tonight before you log off everyone can do a little arborist work for their own last name and we'll have this licked in no time.

It appears that one of the justifications for creating a duplicate profile or for setting duplicates as unmatched is a difference of opinion about dates or spellings.  What should be the guiding prinicpal is if whether it really is two people or one.  The profile itself gives a lot of lattitude to put in alternate information.  If you have one of those common surnames that seems to be overwhelmed with duplicates please post it here and we'll take a look at it.

Ed wrote:

"So, tonight before you log off everyone can do a little arborist work for their own last name and we'll have this licked in no time."

uh-huh. I'll get right on that.

-- Jillaine Smith

daughter of John L. Smith

grand-daughter of John P. Smith


+3 votes
Looking in WikiTree help, it is acceptable to create a duplicate profile when doing two different family trees as in a biological family tree and an adoptive family tree. It seems the only correct way to honour the parents who raised me by allowing me to list them as my parents as well as delving into a separate tree focused on my actual bloodlines. In other cases, for deceased persons where the information is not shown or does not match - I create them so I can continue adding the people in my sourced tree. Should potential matches appear later, I will check them. It would help if all deceased persons were automatically set to public though.
by C. D. Hackett G2G Crew (520 points)

Agreed. Itis difficult to discern if my addition matches a private profile on name alone. crying

C.D. Hackett, here are the wikitree guidelines for adoptions and multiple parents:


Sounds like a policy change since I made my comment in 2012.

Edited to add: back then it said, "Another option for adoptions is to keep two separate profiles for the adopted child...."

+4 votes
One problem that I have foreseen, is when you share ancestors with someone, but for some reason, they either will not (or due to inactivity do not) provide you trusted list access. This makes some of the features (such as relationship finder tool) to not work. I am still awaiting a response from a couple folks who "own" the rights to some of my ancestors. I can see the temptation to create a duplicate so that you are "trusted" enough to be a part of your ancestor's profiles.

Now I will get off that soapbox. I agree with you Ed that there should not be duplicates and we should all work together to eliminate them and collaborate with one another. When there is disagreement, it should be documented and commented on so that there is the expected collaboration of this shared tree.


by Ron Norman G2G6 Mach 4 (41.9k points)
I too have been patiently waiting for almost two months to get access to a profile which is locked by a manager.  I took the line back to 1030 AD and the parent's have been sitting there waiting to be added.

It's a shame because, it is a wife of an American President.  I recently requested the profile to be opened after repeated requests and an unresponsive manager.

Ran across another wife of an American President who is also a closed profile.  Same issue.

IT IS acceptable to create a duplicate profile if there is an unresponsive manager per:  Unresponsive Profile Managers:  Under PRIVATE PROFILES:  below #3  If you haven't heard back within seven days, feel free to create the duplicate profile...was unable to paste exactly, but it's there for everyone's review.
After the unresponsive profile manager, did you request the profile to be opened through the "open profile request" link at the bottom of the page?

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