Data Conflicts

Started by <private> Clewien (Orvis) on Thursday, April 21, 2011


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<private> Clewien (Orvis)
4/21/2011 at 7:11 AM

I have been working alot in trying to clear up Data Conflicts in the Collaborators list. It would be so much easier if we all input NAMES in the same way. I am constantly clearing out MAIDEN names for men. Women have no married names. If you have both married and maiden, put them in correctly, there is a spot for maiden, if you don't have a married name then don't put maiden names in anywhere but maiden. This alerts us that this women/girl isn't married, so easy huh? Also put the display names in correctly Elizabeth Ann married name (maiden name). Don't put extra info in the names section, this has confused the merging process, the suffixes should be for Sr or Jr, or maybe I, II, III nothing else. If you have Lord William leave the Lord part off, its not his name nor is 'of Sunset Valley', there should be no descriptive info in the names. There is a perfect section for extra info and thats where it belongs. I've had to learn from this myself, so whoever is following up and cleaning some of my mystakes thank you! Also on merges do not merge unless BOTH parents are the same, having only one match and the other one not only screws up the section please be very careful!!! Ok

<private> Clewien (Orvis)
4/21/2011 at 7:19 AM

Oh I forgot, if you have several married names put them in sequence ex: marr1/marr2/marr3, found that putting all of the married names helped alot in merging, Thanks everybody and jobs well done!!!! ;)))

4/21/2011 at 7:56 AM


+1 on your methods from this American English curator. The Geni fields as labeled are very easy and intuitive. If only people would follow, would make it so much easier in merges!

- Frankly I get sick when I see the way name fields are abused.

- The "suffix" field is a nice use for a topographic clarifier such as "of Sunset Valley" is you have many generations of William Smiths to keep straight.

- Since when is "Sir" a first name? It's a prefix, people. Oh, no prefix field? Then ask for one from Geni -- or better yet, use the "display name field" to write it out the way you see it in Wikipedia. DISPLAY is **different** from "field."

- The multiple last names in the last name field is a problem because I believe in one name per field. I don't have an easy solution or answer for that but my working method is to go with "best known as" for now -- or name at death -- or to match the names of the children -- and list "other names" in the "about me" and "nicknames" field. Eventually Geni will give us a technical solution.

- In the "about me" I use narrative --

1. date, place, name
2. date, place, name.

In the tree the spouses should show sequentially and with correct distance if you fill out the "married on" fields in the "relationships tab.

Hope this helps and thanks for the topic, Cathey. You make soo much sense!

<private> Clewien (Orvis)
4/21/2011 at 8:06 AM

I agree about the last names to a point, I found that if Margaret married Johnson and Smith, then if we allow Johnson only then the Smith's cannot merge. Sometimes we don't have the marriage dates for the correct sequence either, so that gets to be a problem as to what was her reall last name. Does that make sense? I'm open to suggestions but found that for now this did work.

4/21/2011 at 8:27 AM


You know what? I'm all in favor of "what works" as long as we're not setting ourselves up for total nightmares down the road.

Multiple last names in the last name field is *not* a nightmare, the names can be parsed out programatically when we have more fields available. I just made my decisions based on thinking through "use cases" on my grandmothers and great grandmothers as I had that data available.

For example, one GG mother hyphenated her married names and that's her name at death, so that was easy (she must have anticipated Geni merging issues!)

So that lead me to think - OK, let's go with the legal name at death as that's a record I can often find and validate. Then of course I've learned that for instance someone may have a brief and late in life marriage and never bothered to change her name again for it -- so go with the children's last name until I can find out.

Now --- "Lord so and so" in the first name field ... that IS a data nightmare, because "Lord" is a valid first (or last!) name. So how will anyone (or a program) know which case is which? Eish.

There are a couple more tools available to keep the data happily merging along correctly.

1. Curators can make a good historic profile into a "Master Profile." A "Master Profile" cannot merge with another "Master Profile." We have a discussion to ask curators for this:
for curators: my profile is good enough to be a Master Profile!

2. You are quite correctly understanding that profiles are "works in progress" sometimes and the more information available, the better the clues. So we are working towards building out the MPs through documents and better narratives. That will in turn lead to better and easier merging.

3. Some people have "don't display middle name" ticked on in their preferences (I did by mistake for a long time ... blush). So everyone, check your name display preferences too! There is another person in the world with my first and last name, I don't think she'd appreciate being merged with me (and vice versa).

Private User
4/21/2011 at 8:52 AM

Add me to the list of people confused by men having "maiden" names in so many profiles! I can see it for some specific cultures where multiple names might be used, but when I find American men from the 1800 and 1900s with maiden names, my brain kinda boggles for a minute. Thanks for noting this issue.

4/21/2011 at 9:06 AM

I would like to add two points to what is an excellent discussion -

I DO use maiden name for men for early Colonial Americans in cases where the spelling was extremely variable, such as with my Wilbore / Wilbor / Wilbur ancestors. Otherwise people come in and change the name constantly. So I might have Wilbore (Wilbur) showing up for a man, having put Wilbur in the maiden name field.

As for slashes between the various married names of a woman who has been married multiple times, I personally do not like that practice. I put the last married name in and perhaps I put the other married names in nicknames but I assume that the Geni algorithm for search knows that she might be known by the other names. I don't like slash for two reasons - it's very non-standard and it causes too long a name in the tree display.

Otherwise I agree with you and applaud the post.

4/21/2011 at 9:12 AM

Oh and any use of punctuation in name fields? Yeah, geni doesn't seem to like it much. I think we had a thread implode or something from non unicode.

4/21/2011 at 9:15 AM

I should mention that turned out to be a browser issue.

But I've heard that excuse from developers as long as there's been an interweb.

(going to hide now)

<private> Clewien (Orvis)
4/21/2011 at 1:16 PM

Ok I hear all of you but maiden name is NOT where you put mans name. They aren't female. You need to have cross gender for that kind of thing huh? Men don't have a maiden name, if you try to merge data info and it has maiden filled in its not correct and it wont merge correctly you have to take it out ofthe MP or your stuck. These things belong in the informational part of this site not in a name, a title is not a name, therefore if everyone puts that in then you loose the given name and thats what is suppose to be there not the title. Maybe a specific spot for that is needed, but for now I dont see that Lord, Sir, King etc is a given name and correct me if I'm wrong, I'm happy to keep pluggin away at this but I don't agree. Alternate spellings fine put them in the display not the maiden name am I wrong? There is a difference, I would not insult a man of these days by referring to his questioned spelling as his maiden name. Married names I have run into where some profile has used Smith and another Johnson however the woman was married to both, are we to assume the connection or be sure of the connection? I don't want to stir it up but really we need to all be on board with a way to display extra names or titles. Otherwise its the given first, second and surname followed by the maiden, these people weren't born with titles they earned them and to keep it straight with the father and mother I'm at a loss as to how else to do it different. I love this site and myself I hadn't thot much about that until I got into data conflicts and its a mess, the majority of it is simple things like in the name, if a woman is married that is her name and so on and so on, HELP I guess I need some guidance here!!!

<private> Clewien (Orvis)
4/21/2011 at 1:19 PM

Oh and hyphenated names you know those are together or at least I thot I did lol plz dont be aggrevated just help me out here!!

4/21/2011 at 1:44 PM

You're right, data conflicts really teach you what not to do. Also when you're searching on someone and you can't find them because someone has put "Sir John" as the given name. That is very annoying. I have taken to putting titles in display if people like to see the title in front of the given name, such as Lieut Nathan Gallup.

4/21/2011 at 3:07 PM

Cathey I think you got it pretty much right. You follow the field names as they are labeled. Whatever could be wrong with that? I always take "Sir" out the first name field. I am usually gritting my teeth and going: ""Sir" is a nice name for a dog, not a man."

By the way, what is up with people who put maiden name in the Middle Name field? Did Middle Name change its meaning to Maiden Name and I never noticed? Just askin.'

Hatte pointed out a trick: "Use the display name field to display names with a prefix in front" and you pointed out another one: "List the names and titles in the "about me.""

Now in the medieval parts of the tree they come up with all kinds of workarounds. I avoid "resolving conflicts" there so I don't have an "against logic" moment. Once it gets more straightforward I'll help out more there, but there's so much cleanup to do in the areas I curate - mostly Colonial America - they can live without me.

4/21/2011 at 3:11 PM

Cathey I split off the "hyphenated name" question to a separate post.

Because of my own great grandmother who hyphenated her last name legally, my assumption is that when I see it, it's the real deal and their actual last name, so totally leave it as is.

Private User
4/21/2011 at 5:41 PM

Hatte Blejer on partial hiatus, I've seen people do things like Wilbore/Wilbor/Wilbur in the fields, and they seem to show up fine. I know I have a profile for a several-times-back grandmother that says Sarah/Sally (or something like that). Are slashes frowned upon? I guess I haven't seen the issues you all have.

For profiles for my own ancestors with disputed spellings, I pick the most common spellings for the profile fields and then put something in the "About" field noting the other names. (Dulcina Elizabeth Starks is a good example of that.) Then, if there are still frequent edits going on, maybe a curator note at the top could help? That way, it still lets people know about the multiple names, but it doesn't force a male to have a maiden name, which Cathey points out doesn't make a lot of sense historically.

Regarding putting "Sir" and other titles in name fields: I really wish more people knew about the "Display Name" field! Sigh.

Private User
4/21/2011 at 5:42 PM

Ack, it turns out Dulcina's not public, and I don't want to upset family by changing it...but here's what I wrote for her:

"Dulcina Town Starks was born in Sandgate, Bennington Co., Vermont. Her name is commonly misspelled in records -- variations include Dulcina/Delcina/Delcena, Town/Tonn, and Stark/Starks. Town instead of Tonn seems certain; Dulcina and Starks seem to be the most common."

And then I go on to note her spellings in each Census and other records. Not a perfect fix, but it gets the idea across.

4/21/2011 at 6:08 PM

These are all good ideas. We should keep threads like this going because practical suggestions of "how to" do this that and the other thing would be of use to all our users.

I don't know if slashes are frowned upon. I know that having really long names is an issue in tree view.

4/21/2011 at 6:23 PM

Hi Cathey, Erica will probably not approve of this, but there are a lot of people on Geni using the genealogists way of writing names. Genealogists use only "maiden" names, or names at birth as I like to call them. A females name after marriage is found in her husbands surname and in his profile. These "maiden" names are written in the "Last name" field by genealogists in every family history software.

I'm also constantly clearing out maiden names from male profiles, it doesn't belong there. I'm also moving "maiden name" to "last name" in a lot of the profiles I merge, when I know that the female never used a married name.

I agree with Erica on this point, I do not like multiple last name in the last name field. Married names, I think, belongs to the husband, so just keep them there.

If Margareth Green, married a Johnson and a Smith, the names Johnson and Smith can easily be found as Margareths husbands in their profiles. In my view the married names have nothing to do in the females profile before we get an "Alternative/Other names" field.

As a genealogist I disagree with your statement " If you have both married and maiden, put them in correctly, there is a spot for maiden, if you don't have a married name then don't put maiden names in anywhere but maiden." I agree with your first part to put married and maiden name in correctly, if you have them both, too bad Geni at the moment doesn't have name fields to accomodate this. What I most disagree with, is "if you don't have a married name then don't put maiden names in anywhere but maiden." This is exactly what genealogists do, we put maiden name in the surname field. After decades of testing out the best way to write names, both male and female, the genealogical community of the western world, included western peoples in the colonies, have found that this is the way that work best.

I know that a lot of peoples on Geni disagrees, but the genealogists keep writing names this way.

You say that we shouldn't use the "Last name" field unless the girl was married. I, as a genealogist, disagrees with you. We use the name at birth in the "Last name" field, that is what we have found works the best, that name never changes, thus easily searchable, and the husband(s) name(s) is easily found in the the husband(s) name(s) and profile(s).

I agree with you on prefix and suffix. I don't even like these in the Display name. I do not think anything else than names belong in a name field, which Dipslay name is.

Well, that was my 2 cents, from a genealogists view.

Private User
4/21/2011 at 6:40 PM

Remi Trygve Pedersen: I guess I get confused about the assertion that there's an agreed-upon "genealogists' way" of doing it because I'm a member of a variety of professional historical and genealogical associations, and there's actually a lot of debate over it -- it seems like we're far from consensus. For most professional historians writing about historical figures, convention is to go with legal names for the longest period of their life and/or to use First Maiden Married format for women. For genealogy specifically, it usually breaks down based upon regional or sub-field preferences. It's not as if there's one group that determines what is and isn't "genealogist-approved"; even the APG barely passes 1,000 members.

I understand that it's a big issue for you, and I completely respect that, but it would be nice if we could be clearer when we're grouping all professional genealogists together, and also if we weren't splitting Geni users into "real genealogists" vs. "hobbyist" categories. I don't see the utility in that, other than to get into credential wars or isolate others.

Back to the topic at hand: I just went through and wiped a bunch of military titles from male suffix fields. Looks like it's already showing some improved search returns. Maybe some others have some spare time to spend on that?

4/21/2011 at 7:02 PM

Spare time she asks! I'm separating Deanes from Rings!

The slash issue is a general IT note from having to deal with the unexpected consequences of unicode / browsers / parsing data / data migration projects.

I love the alternate spellings noted in the "about me." Also, the nickname field is underutilized and that's a great place to store them.

4/21/2011 at 7:10 PM

I'm one of the people who puts military titles in suffixes. But in my defense, I have moved them from given name.

4/21/2011 at 7:40 PM

I would love "suffix" to be just for l, ll, ll or Jr. Sr. as it was originally intended. But I've been using it for topographics (which I really like) and titles too. My reasoning being that "at least it's not a name field being abused." :)

The "display name" field can get really funky really fast so I'm still not trusting it much. Maybe my confidence will grow.

We make those curator notes as fast as we can. Anyone who feels they have a nice clean public profile that should be a Master Profile - be sure and call curator attention to it, with a link so we can find it fast and easy, in this discussion:

for curators: my profile is good enough to be a Master Profile!

<private> Clewien (Orvis)
4/22/2011 at 2:37 AM

Wow seems we have so many ideas on what is the 'correct' way to input our info. Thats great maybe we can narrow it down someday. I think the only true way to resolve so many ideas seriously is for Geni to provide the proper space for these profiles and their data. Then in the tree only put what is necessary - names (only names) and dates. Maybe that would solve both sides of the discussion. The profiles then remain as you want them and the tree becomes less complicated along with the massive data conflict mess. What do you all think?

<private> Clewien (Orvis)
5/19/2011 at 7:33 AM

Just to let everyone know I won't be helping in data conflicts. Its just too messy and no one wants to help by putting the information in the right places. It has made alot of repeat work and confusing work. Come on GENI we need direct, easy to follow places to put names and then titles. Sir John isn't a first name its a title and then a first name, putting birth and death dates in the names is crazy. Help us out and clean this mess up its rediculous to work on. I know it will help alot in merging info, allow titles etc on the profile and only Sr. an Jr in the names in the trees, please do something. Good luck!

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