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What are duplicates and why are they a problem?

Duplicates are two or more profiles that represent the same person.

WikiTree's mission is to create a single family tree with one profile for every person. Having two profiles for one person works against this aim.

This is so important that Point I of our Honor Code reads: "We collaborate. When we share ancestors we work together on the same ancestor profiles."

That said, of course, duplicates can be accidently created. Merging them is a big part of what active WikiTreers do. There is even a special project, , the Arborists, devoted to helping to find and merge duplicates.

Is it ever acceptable to intentionally create a duplicate?

There is only one rare situation where it is acceptable to intentionally create a duplicate: if you (or a close family member) were adopted and you want to create a separate profile to explore your biological heritage without disconnecting yourself from your adoptive family. See adoptions and multiple parents.

How can you find duplicates?

Whenever you create a new profile, manually or through a GEDCOM import, WikiTree does a check of existing profiles to see if there are any obvious matches. These will be suggested.

It is important to review the suggested matches. A lot can be discarded quickly. With some, especially if the person is modern and the profile is private, you may need to contact the Profile Manager(s) to ask if your person is the same.

To look for duplicates of existing profiles in your Watchlist, use FindMatches. It's important to do this periodically because thousands of new profiles are added to WikiTree every day. The people adding them may not catch the duplicates.

Dates and locations help avoid duplication

An important factor in avoiding duplicates is ensuring your profile has dates and locations.

WikiTree is one place where an approximation is preferable to a blank space. A new profile "John Jones" will most likely produce many hundreds of potential matches. An approximate date entered, e.g. 1750, makes it easy to rule out a match for a John Jones born in 1850, or a John Jones who died in 1650. A broad location, e.g. "United Kingdom" or "Europe", makes it easy to rule out John Jones who were born in Australia.

When making estimates, just be sure to use the "certainty status" button for "Uncertain" that you'll find under the data entry field.

Getting help

Sometimes it's hard to know whether two profiles represent the same person. Especially with deep ancestry, it is an ongoing challenge for genealogists. To coordinate work on these challenges, the WikiTree community has developed special projects such as the European Aristocrats Project.

Rather than joining the project, you could just post a question in G2G with the appropriate tag, e.g. euroaristo, mayflower, presidents, etc. You might also tag your post arborists.

See the page on merging for more details.

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This page was last modified 14:31, 25 August 2020. This page has been accessed 7,247 times.