Did you see the new merge system?

+62 votes

Hi WikiTreers,

I am proud to announce that we just released a major round of improvements to our system for merging person profiles.

The next time you merge you'll notice some big differences. (If you want to see them now, you could see if there is a pending merge you can help complete.)

Those of you who are familiar with our tools for merging-in data from external websites (WikiTree X) and GEDCOMs (GEDCOMpare) will recognize most of the changes. We adapted the innovations made while developing those new systems into our original merge code.

Here are some of the changes:

  • You're not limited to selecting data from the merged-away profile or keeping data from the merged-into profile. You can enter completely new data during the merge.
  • You can view, set, and modify the certainty status of data fields and parental relationships during the merge.
  • If you enter or edit the birth or death location, the standardized place name suggestions from FamilySearch will appear. You can hide these suggestions if they're annoying.
  • You can now edit the text section during the merge. Previously, the entire text section from the merged-away profile was appended to the bottom of the text section for the merged-into profile. You then had to edit this after the merge. Now we append biography to the biography and the sources to the sources, and you can do the final edits right there on the merge form.
  • You can preview the text section before completing the merge.
  • When you complete the merge the data is scanned for likely errors. It's the same data validation system that we have for editing profiles.

I feel very good about these changes.

Synthesizing conflicting information into one coherent profile -- figuring out what the sources really tell us and communicating it on the page -- is high-level genealogy collaboration. It is the essence of what we do on WikiTree.

Merging can never be easy. But we can make it easier to do better merges, and hopefully that's what we've done here. In the long run this should relieve some of the burden that's been placed on the generous, experienced WikiTreers who have to clean up messy merges done by less experienced members.

Please post here if you notice problems, or if you have suggestions for further improvements, or improvements to the explanations on the Merging Help page.

Onward and upward,


asked in The Tree House by Chris Whitten G2G Astronaut (1m points)

And this remark right to the bottom is to me rather ill-placed seeing how in the past we all have so much wrestled in G2G discussions on various issues relating to bio-integration: 

Please review this carefully and make improvements. Our ancestors deserve thoughtfully-written biographies. Thank you!

because what they deserve is not narrative, but collated validated data. "Thoughtfully-written" is something aesthetically non-defined.

Yes.  The default scenario here is that the merger knows nothing about the person and doesn't care about the outcome.  They just think it's more important to get the merge off the pending list than to get it right.  So if they're presented with default choices, they'll just accept all the defaults.

I could succesfully conclude the following  (complicated & tricky) merge though: https://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Allison-2080

Privacy Level 60 Johannes de Waal (De Waal-999) and Privacy Level 60 John Henry de Waal Allison (Allison-2080)   Compare compare
Proposed by Wendy de Waal.
Approval from Wendy de Waal for De Waal-999 has been recorded.
No response for Allison-2080. Default approval.
You can complete this merge after a final comparison.
      You might also see the comparison report on WikiTree+. Help
      If De Waal-999 and Allison-2080 are different people, reject the merge.
Last updated 2017-12-20 20:27:37.

I just found a profile that has been through the merge process but is very bad looking in My opinion. The link is https://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Sheppard-2506

I am going to work with the profile manager to try and rectify this mismash of a profile. Please no one else do any editing on it.

The issue is that he must have thought it  automatically adjusted the profile to be good looking yet there is duplicated information all through the profile. 


This is an example of someone doing merge easy style. It isn't what we want to have for Wikitree as it sets a bad example. 

"Error: Invalid data. The following must be corrected:"

  1. Permission Denied.

was because one of them was green locked.

The other profile has a green privacy level so that's perhaps what causes the message Permission denied although it was a default approval?  or maybe that's also a bug ? To make sure I added links to the parents to the Bio of one and in a post to the other one.
I tested a few merge requests from the unmerged list without actually merging them. Unlike the parents, I do not see any option to select and verify children from either profile on the merge screen. I've read the help page and all the comments on this and the other thread about the potential loss of parent/child relationships. So how does one, during the merge, ensure the children are not lost?
All the children of both profiles are kept.  Duplicates should then be merged.  Disconnecting them wouldn't be desirable.
Then how are so many people seeing children being disconnected (hence my concern)?

My feeling ​about this yet another significant & disruptive change is somewhat along the line of what Janis Joplin sang ... 'go on, break another little piece of my heart now honey, just another little piece of my heart now ...' .... bittersweet hurt because of all the countless hours of hard work and research just being merged away like that ... 

There is a huge disconnect in vision and in practical understanding somewhere.


17 Answers

+18 votes
Best answer
Is there any way to retrieve the text if someone elects to use the 'lazy' option and only choose one set of biographical and source notes? If not, this could be a recipe for disaster. We already had this situation with the data fields where the information on the merged away profile disappears permanently. Does it now extend to the text as well?
answered by Dave Rutherford G2G6 Mach 2 (29.2k points)
selected by Ruth Adkins
The text not selected is preserved in the changes.  System inserts a redirect link so all the prior text is on the left, with just the redirect on the right on the "edited the data" change page.  (Hope my explanation makes sense.)
OK Great. I see how that works now. That answers my concerns and makes this an excellent improvement.
+15 votes
Wow, that will make it much easier to merge with old gedcom imported profiles! Sounds great!
answered by Maria Lundholm G2G6 Mach 3 (36.6k points)
I LOVE THE UPDATE!.  I have done some of this kind of work so I have some understanding how much work it took to accomplish it but it is wonderful.  Thank you, thank you.
+15 votes
This is a very helpful change. I've completed two merges with this process now and the merge "cleanup" can be done without extra steps. I have not tried a merge with a long gedcom attached yet, but I assume it will be just as easy to complete.
answered by Natalie Trott G2G6 Pilot (343k points)
+13 votes
I wish I had some pendings to check(!), but this sounds like great progress.  All needed and helpful improvements.  Doubtless, someone will have more ideas for improvement - development is never finished.

I couldn't check, but does this mean it won't allow saving if there is more than one Biography or Sources section?  That would be really nice!

And it would be nice to see on every profile save (merged or new) an encouragement to always enter dates and places, even if rough and uncertain (but not made up of course).
answered by Rob Jacobson G2G6 Mach 6 (69.7k points)
+15 votes
New merge process works great! Makes editing so much easier and neater. No need to go back in and edit after the merge. Also like the Preview feature for error checking. Thanks very much for improvements.
answered by Shirley Dalton G2G6 Pilot (393k points)
+12 votes

Great improvement. Easy to follow and makes a great looking merged profile. All in one step! Small GEDCOMs would be easier to handle but I think I would prefer to do LARGE Gedcom cleanups before the merge.

answered by Pat Credit G2G6 Mach 5 (50.6k points)
+12 votes
Thanks, Chris! This is a great improvement!

I find it confusing that the higher numbered profile is on the left when I am comparing the two profiles, but when I click 'merge' and go to the merging page, the lower number profile is now on the left. On the merging page it would be my preference to have the two left hand columns reversed. Is it just me, or does this cause confusion for others?
answered by Kay Wilson G2G6 Pilot (151k points)
I also have been confused because I was accustomed to the old arrangement, but I think I will mange to adapt to the change.
+14 votes

I really like the ability to choose the text from just one profile.  I just used it on a perfect example.

On Middle Name field, there is no radio button choice for "no middle name", just certain and uncertain.  But no middle name is on the edit page so it would make sense if it can be to have it on the merge page too.

answered by Mikey Anonymous G2G6 Mach 4 (44.6k points)
+5 votes
That sounds amazing! Can’t wait to try it. :-)
answered by Charlotte Shockey G2G6 Pilot (917k points)
+6 votes
So no more "Clean up after merge" comments? Yippee!!  Thanks.
answered by Robynne Lozier G2G6 Pilot (417k points)
+8 votes
Wow, I love it!!  This is such a great move forward and perhaps uncleaned merges will be a thing of the past!  Yay Chris!!  Thank you so much!
answered by Cindy Lesure G2G6 Mach 7 (73.7k points)
+6 votes

Great improvement! Thanks!

A small improvement that I was very pleased to see as part of this revamped utility:

If I am merging two profiles with different LNABs and I forget to enter an explanation in the comment box, my choices of profile data and my edits to the text are not lost (unlike the old system).

answered by Ellen Smith G2G6 Pilot (840k points)
+8 votes

Good system but I have a couple of improvements.

  • Highlight the info that came from each profile when you have the profiles combined. That will make it easier to weed out the duplicated info without completely doing a line by line search. 
  • For people doing a Community Challenge nothing pops up so you can mark that you sourced a profile, You connected a profile or you corrected a Data suggestion
  • When A profile already has two ==Biography== and two ==Sources== sections and a third profile is merged into it, It doesn't touch that section so will still be not merged properly if people just accept the rough combined profile

I just did a merge into a not merged properly profile and it still saved even with two ==Sources== and <references/> sections. This needs adjustments with maybe the same system that throws up an error message for two first names, missing <ref> tags , etc.
answered by Darren Kellett G2G6 Mach 7 (71.4k points)
edited by Darren Kellett
+7 votes
Absolutely LOVE it - It is going to make things much easier.

The only other improvement I would like to see is that the marriage date and location fields be split.

Sometimes the one profile gives the date and the other the place. That means that there might be a loss if data if the person completing the merge does not make a note of it and goes back to edit the marriage after the merge.

answered by Esmé van der Westhuizen G2G6 Mach 7 (76.9k points)
edited by Esmé van der Westhuizen
After using the new merge system I have huge concerns!!!!

It is going to detach many profiles from their parents and thereby also from their siblings.

Is there anyway that the system can be improved to prevent this loss.
+6 votes
I have a few merges to complete but am getting the following error:

Error: Invalid data. The following must be corrected:
Permission Denied.

The help link doesn't provide any additional info on what might be wrong. Profile has approval from people on both trusted lists.
answered by Jason Oubre G2G Crew (380 points)
were both of the profiles open?
+3 votes
I do a lot of merging working on graveyards in the 1700s and connecting them. Duplicates come up all the time. I came across the change before the announcement. It is definitely smoother.

Thumbs up, and thanks!!
answered by Elizabeth Winter G2G6 Mach 6 (61.8k points)
+5 votes

Regarding the error message that we see AFTER we have attempted to complete a merge involving locked profiles for which we don't have editing permissions:

Error: Invalid data. The following must be corrected:
Permission Denied.

Could we have an alert banner that appears BEFORE we attempt to complete a merge to remind us that we do need editing permissions for any locked profiles involved in a merge?

Just a thought!!

answered by Lindy Jones G2G6 Pilot (145k points)
An excellent idea, Lindy. We should make it clear that "Default approval" is only approval if the privacy setting on that profile is open. Merging is confusing enough for new WikiTreers without being slapped with a "Permission Denied" message!

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