Redirects - Unknowns

+10 votes

I have read a lot about redirects on Wikitree such as in the previous discussion -

We are constantly reminded not to merge to many profiles into one as it will cause too many redirects. In the above discussion Chris Whitten states the following:


When someone merges hundreds of profiles into one how does this affect the ranking?

commented Jul 2, 2014 by Michelle Hartley G2G6 Pilot

Michelle, as long as they are all merged into the final profile, it strengthens that one profile's ranking in Google quite a bit. Not only is the ranking/juice divided by 100 when there 100 duplicates, Google may actually penalize us for having 100 duplicate pages.

commented Jul 2, 2014 by Chris Whitten G2G6 Pilot


I am still confused about when is it appropriate to merge many profiles into one and when not.

In the Recycle Unknowns Category there are at least 40 Unknown Unknown profiles that are essentially duplicates of each other.

These profiles are all orphaned and have no other profiles attached to them. What would the impact be on redirects if all these profiles are merged into one?

in WikiTree Tech by Esmé van der Westhuizen G2G6 Pilot (119k points)
retagged by Keith Hathaway

3 Answers

+7 votes
I understood that if there were multiple duplicates, they were each to be merged into the lowest number. I didn't think it mattered how many.

ie. 250 in 5, 217 into 5, 350 into 5, 34 into 5 etc.
by Dawn Ellis G2G6 Mach 8 (84.7k points)
Correct. The problem were seeking to avoid is:

350 into 250, then 250 into 217, then 217 into 34, then 34 into 5.
Hi, Jillaine that is exactly how I understand it and have been doing it but have been informed by numerous people that I can not merge too many profiles into one.
I have never seen such a reference; please ask those people for a source to their claim.
Thanks Jillaine, will do so.
There's no problem with merging lots of profiles into one, e.g. B into A, C into A, D into A, etc. That's fine. You could merge hundreds into A.

As Jillaine says, the problem is with chained merges. A into B, B into C, C into D, etc.

I think that what's being suggested with these unknowns is that after merging a bunch of unknowns together, then the unknowns would be merged together into one. That would be a massive, ugly chained merge. I haven't looked at the unknowns project in a while. I hope nothing is being done there that is causing trouble.
Hi Chris

I have been doing merges of a large number of Unknowns recently and have been using as my target profile. This was the lowest ID# that I could find.

My methodology was as follows:

1.    Identify Open/Orphaned UNKNOWN UNKNOWN profiles such as (I have adopted them all and changed the privacy as I want to keep them as an example.)

2.    Determine if there is any useful information on the profile or in the biography - if there is just tidy up the profile and do not merge.

3.    If there is no useful information that will help identify the person, detach from all other profiles.

4.    Once the profile is cleaned, merge into the Lowest ID target profile.

As can be seen from the Changes info I have always merged into a lower number. I have made one incorrect merge but thankfully it was picked up by my Team Member Nan and I corrected it immediately.

I have been told that my methodology is flawed and have now stopped merging unknowns and have just added them to the Recycle Unknowns category – which has now grown to about 600 profiles.

If I have done it incorrectly I do apologize. I am very passionate about Wikitree and I am always prepared to learn from my fellow Team Members.
Hi all.. I work with Paul Bech on the Cemetery Project - Initially when a new Cemetery is photographed, we work as quickly as we can to get the Profiles up so that the photograph can be linked appropriately.  Although we do some initial research such as Tributes & Trove search, all too often especially for Women the Maiden Name is set as unknown until such time we can go slowly back over the profiles and perform more indepth research with more information & evidence which hopefully includes appropriate Maiden Name.  I have a concern that these profiles will be considered 'unlinked' and risk being put into the recycle Unknowns - Could we ensure the work directions/instructions include a warning something like "if the profile has a cemetery category" please do not recycle?

On a positve note however - with the creation of so many profiles for Cemeteries it is an ideal place to use up some of these "Recycled" unknowns, last night I managed to redeploy around 50 into Cemetery profiles. Yay.. Keep up the good work all.. and keep this subject high in G2G to remind people to use them.  Cheers Trace.
Trace, perhaps if the profile had a cemeteries project template on it people would leave it alone.

I've also been finding uses to recycle Unknowns. In the PGM project, we frequently debunk mythical maiden names for women who are really unknown. I find a recyclable Unknown and merge her into that then get her project protected.
I should clarify given Michelle H's comment below. The Unknowns I recycle are orphaned and disconnected. And empty of data but I think I'm understanding that I should check the changes log before I adopt them.
+2 votes
The Unknowns project covers the profiles in the recycle category.
by Michelle Hartley G2G6 Pilot (152k points)

Interesting to know I have never thought about the SEO effect
Another discussion on the same subject

Would be cool if we could ask Google for duplicates

Magnus the discussion you mention in your comment is the same as the one that I quoted in my original question but I still do not have an answer of what the impact of redirects will be if  40 Unknown Unknown profiles will be merged into one?

Sorry I have no answers I am new into this SEO a wild guess after reading some pages:

Nota Bene: Google ranking of pages is secret so every expert on SEO guess or based it on trial and errors is my understanding


  1. A lot of duplicates as Unknown hurts the ranking
    I assume Unknow profiles is a duplicate for the google search engine crawler ==> is bad for ranking
    ==> merging is great
  2.  A redirect ==> you get a status 301 and that is good
    ==> merging is great
  3. I guess that the overall ranking for the site suffers if some pages are duplicated a lot.... and my understanding today is that Wikitree has a good ranking overall.... thanks to a good work from Chris.... 
    ==> merging is great
Thanks Magnus this is becoming more and more like Greek to me :-)
+2 votes

Some these profiles have a history. Some good profiles have been merged into these unknowns. Some were changed to unknown and then merged. Someone in the future looking at the history might think an incorrect merge was completed. 

See the following links. This one appears to be a good profile before it was merged. 

This one was wiped clean and changed to unknown,

This one had data.

Merged into higher numbered profile.

Another merge into a higher number

Seems a perfectly good profile was merged into this profile

The above profiles were either merged into higher numbers, names changed and merged into another LNAB, or a perfectly good profile was merged into unknown. 

Seems the category needs to be checked. Some seemingly good profiles were merged into some of these unknowns.

Merging the 40 unknown profiles isn't a good idea. Some would probably be fine. Others cause numerous redirects. Some don't really belong in the recycle category. 

Before we slap on the recycle category we should investigate the changes log carefully & make sure there was no data in the profile. Wiping the data from the profiles doesn't erase it from the changes log. 

by Michelle Hartley G2G6 Pilot (152k points)
Thank you, Michelle. I'm seeing too much of this, unknowns having their data wiped, and/or being disconnected from other profiles, just to put the recycle category on them. It's very disheartening.  The purpose of the Unknowns project is to improve Wikitree, not wipe out data.
Michelle, thanks for again pointing out this problem. I have spent some time going through a number of such wrongly categorized profiles and attempted to restore them. As of now, there are over 500 in the category and probably most of them need to be where they are. I've asked members of the Unknowns Project to temporarily stop adding profiles until the protocol is clarified.
Hi Michelle. I do agree with you some of these profiles do not belong in the Unknowns category, but I would like to set a challenge to anybody that can find the connection to the Big Tree for &

These profiles were merged into higher numbers by Sir William Arbuthnot due to the fact that Unknown was spelled incorrectly.
Correct, they really can't be connected to the Big Tree. I was just showing an example of the 40 duplicates and the potential for redirects in this small sampling of those 40 profiles.
Nan, I hope you have been reporting  this kind of behavior when you see it. If not, please do!!!

Yes, I agree it's disheartening!
Shirley, in some instances members may not be aware data was wiped from profiles. They probably see it's unknown and just add the recycled category. I'm sure you're aware that you have to look at all the profiles that were merged. It gets tricky sometimes trying to find the other profiles. I'm glad you are looking through the category and fixing what you can. Thanks!

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