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User Tutorial - Merge Guide

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Merge Guide

Step by Step guidelines for merging duplicate profiles

The purpose of this project is to help users become better mergers by explaining how to safely and correctly merge duplicate profiles on Gen. With a greater awareness of Tree and Data Conflicts we can improve the quality of the tree.

The best approach is Search, Match, Link before building duplicate trees...

... not build, duplicate, merge, resulting in

...Tree conflicts and Data conflicts

Because this is a tutorial project please do not link profiles to it. Translations are welcome.

If you have any specific questions, comments or suggestions about the guidelines below, please contact June Barnes or Erica Howton who are Volunteer Curators. Do not hesitate to ask questions about anything that is not clear, or draw attention to things that I may have been missed!

Alternatively raise a discussion to embrace wider participation and input.

TIP When communicating with other users please include the link address (URL/www) to the profile you are referring to. This is found at the top left of the computer screen. The following is the link address to the Merge Centre project - it changes for every page you are viewing.

// Address location

Please note that profiles used in the screen-shot illustrations have no significance and are merely used to illustrate scenarios - they have no relevance to the tutorials. The illustrations will not always match your own - this depends on how you have set your Name Preferences, and what your choices are when viewing the tree.

Most of the screenshots shown are taken when the settings I prefer are as in this image (Found at the foot of the Tree view page)..

// to ...// - tree view

Occasionally I use a "vertical tree layout" in order to cover more ground.
How much of what is explained you can carry out depends on whether you have a Geni Basic or Pro subscription.


Getting Involved

Feel free to follow, request to collaborate //


Duplicate profiles - are profiles for a single person that appear multiple times on Geni, in separate trees or even in the same tree, usually created by different users
Merging - is the process of combining these duplicates, to create a single unified profile (and tree).
Profile merges are the first step in merging your tree with that of another user on the site, combining the data and connections from both trees into one, leading to a collaborative approach to tree building and management.
There are some privacy related instances when merging is not an automatic option and requests need to be sent to managers to grant permission for the merges to take place.

Merges can sometimes be very extensive requiring many more profile merges. The warning signs are there (matches show on the tree as you build), but are often ignored. Duplication can be avoided if before starting to extend or build a tree you check to see if there isn't an established tree already on Geni using the search tool. The tutorials below illustrate the processes involved using screen shots.

Matches and merges are inter-related. Duplicates lead to matches, matches lead to merges, and merges lead to data and tree conflicts. It is difficult to separate them! This means that you will find it necessary to consult a number of projects. Covering it all on in one project is too cumbersome.

The following user tutorial projects combined deal with this subject:

1. This Merge Guide

- how to avoid creating duplicates in the first place, how to look for matching profiles of people you wish to add to your tree through searching, and how to link your tree to existing profiles if you find them. It will also explain how to accurately merge duplicates which arise through tree building and/or have already been created in the tree.

2. Merging - Case Studies and Examples

3. Searching

4. Matches

5. Data Conflicts

6. Tree conflicts

7. Tree Repairing

8. Basic Techniques 1. Viewing Preferences

9. Basic Techniques 2. Action Menus

10. Basic Techniques 3. Profile Page Tabs

See also

These related projects aim to users get a fuller understanding of what is involved, avoid bad merges and bad merge practice,
...encourage users be more mindful when accepting matches,
...more cautious when building the tree so as to not duplicate existing ones, and
...more thorough in following through -

attending to data and tree conflicts that arise through merging just the one profile in a tree.

There is a discussion dedicated to helping with merges -

If you have requested a merge and want curator help to have the merge completed, please post the url for the 'View Pending Merge' page in the discussion.

TIP When communicating with other users please include the link address (URL/www) to the profile you are referring to. This is found at the top left of the computer screen. The following is the link address to the Merge Centre project - it changes for every page you are viewing.

// Address location

Strictly on condition you do the follow up merges and solve the data conflicts yourself...

Merging is relatively easy. The problems arise when bad and incomplete merges are made, creating Data and Tree conflicts which need to be resolved. These are often not processed - building up a back-log for other people to work through. Part of the problem is that many users don't know how to access their Merge Centre and what to do about them.

The project addresses avoidance by addressing Searching, Matching and Linking in depth - the hope being that fewer merges will be necessary if greater integrity is used in tree building. everyone attended to Data and Tree conflicts in their personal Merge Centre regularly there would be a lot more time available to research, source and build the most accurate tree possible.

If you do add a duplicate profile to the tree, a "blue box" match will flag up on the tree or on the profile page. This doesn't always happen instantly so keep an eye out for them as you build the tree. It is important to check these out immediately to either approve or reject the match as explained below in Matches.


The importance of responsible merging cannot be emphasised too much. Be mindful and careful not to approve incorrect merges of profiles seem to be the same at a glance but for a number of reasons are not. Often siblings will carry the same name, usually if one died in infancy or young. If it is known that this is the case in a family you can ask a curator to place a note on the profile page and to make both profiles a Master Profile so that they cannot be accidentally merged. If the parents of the profiles under consideration are different it is a good indication that something is amiss. Check it out before merging!

If you do merge profiles by mistake please contact a curator who can un-merge and help correct the mistake.


Merging Profiles

M1. Drag and Drop
M2. Move this person
M3. Merge this Person - from a Profile Page
M4. Merging from Matches
M5. Requesting a Merge
M6. Merging Private Profiles
M7. Resolve Duplicates - including when you cannot merge profiles

M8. Linking
M9. Refreshing Relationships

Note! It is important that after you merge profiles you access the Data Conflicts and Tree Conflicts for that profile to clear them.


// Profiles //

See Geni help Where can I find general information about merging?


M1. Drag and Drop.

If the merge you wish to make is in the same tree view, for instance when there are duplicate siblings or wives in a family, or perhaps a relationship is wrong (e.g a son his mother's husband) it is possible to drag the node in the tree and drop it directly onto the duplicate.

// do this first click the Command (cmd) button on your keyboard and hold it down. The outlines of all the nodes turn yellow and all arrows, node extensions etc. disappear.
Whilst still holding down the cmd button click on the duplicate you wish to move, drag the node to the other profile and drop the node onto it. Release the mouse. A window opens asking you to select the relationship between the two profiles. (Figure M1:1)

// M1:1// M1:2.//

You will be asked "Are you sure?" (Figure M1:2.) Click yes if you are. The two profiles will then have been successfully merged. Sometimes you are not allowed to make such a move - perhaps you don't have permission because you don't have edit rights for instance. In this event ask the managers of the profiles involved to make the changes, or contact a curator.

// If after you have initiated this merge a yellow triangle with an exclamation mark in it is visible don't be alarmed! This shows that there are tree conflicts to attend to, and that further merging is probably necessary. (Figure M1:3). Go to Tree Conflicts for further help.

// M1:4.


See also 6. Resolve duplicates in Tree view below. There is also the option to "drag-and-drop" nodes when dealing with Tree conflicts (the completion of a merge after a duplicate profile had been merged) in a special "stacking tray" window. To see the technique explained go to Tree Conflicts section B


M2. Move this person - Tree view

Duplicate profiles can be merged whilst in tree view using the "Move this Person" button found in the "more" link of a node on your tree.

Note The following applies when the profiles to be merged are on the same Tree View. Go to M8. Linking below where how to use the same technique with profiles in different tree views is explained.

In tree view identify the profile you wish to merge, click "more" on the node, and then "Move this person". (Figure M2:1)

// M2:1

As a result the node is moved to the "Map These People" position on the tree view page - top right hand corner. (Figure M2:2)

// M2:3

Place the curser over the node in the corner, click and drag the node until it is over that of the duplicate person. Release the mouse hold. A window asking you what the relationship is between the two profiles will open. (See Figure M1:1 above).

Follow the subsequent steps as explained from M1:1 above to complete the process.


M3. Merge this Person - from a Profile Page

To merge duplicate profiles from a person's Profile View page first click on "Actions" to view the drop down menu, and then select "Merge This Profile". (Figure M3:1)

// M3:1.

(Figure M3:2) You are invited to add the name of the duplicate person's name you wish to merge. The most accurate way to do this is to use the unique identity number seen in the link address (Figure M3:2a).

// M3:2

// M3:2a.

Copy and paste the number into the window and select the match that pops up. You may need to press the space bar to get the search option. (Figure M3:3)

// M3.3.

When you press "Compare Profiles" a new window opens where you can assess the match and accept or remove it. (Figure M3:4.)

// M3:4.

After accepting the merge there will be a banner at the top of the profile (Figure M3:5.) reminding you to Merge nearby duplicates or resolve conflicting data. Go to Tree Conflicts to follow through. This example is continued there.

// M3:5.


M4. Merging from Matches

// M4:1.

To summarise the basic process I use when considering a matched profile, or a set of matched profiles as in Figure M4:1, reached via matches in either your merge centre, from tree view or from the profile page is ...

1. Firstly look for any profiles which have exactly the same name as the focus profile in the top panel and tick the boxes down the left side of the page for those profiles as possible good matches.

2. Next look for profiles which have exactly the same parents as the main profile and check those boxes as well.

3. If there is a spouse added check any boxes where the same name occurs.

4. Lastly if there are any dates check boxes with dates similar to within a year or so of the top profile. If dates amongst the profiles you have ticked are vastly out remove those profiles from the selection. There are often no dates at all. Looking at details of the linked profiles (parents, children etc by using the cursor to open a pop-up window may offer some insight - the father of someone born in the 21st is not likely to be born in the 18th Century for example.

5. After these steps you may have ticked no boxes, as in Figure M4:1, in which case select them all by checking the top box at the extreme left of the header line and press Remove Matches at the bottom of the page.

6. If there are some boxes ticked for possible matches press "Compare Profiles" and examine them more closely by working through the side by side comparisons, accepting or rejecting them as necessary.


M5. Requesting a Merge

If profiles you wish to merge are both in your family group or are profiles where you have edit rights merging is very straight forward. (In tree view public profiles have a green border around the portrait)

Occasionally as you look through lists you may notice profiles amongst them where there are strong similarities. This was the case in the above example (M4). Two of the profiles were married to a woman of the same name. They were also both the father of a similarly named child.

In order to get a better look at them open both profiles in separate tabs. After examining them both it was clear that they were a match as both of the wives were born on the same day.

// M5:1.
You can manually merge duplicate profiles within your tree and also any duplicate public profile outside of your tree by using the "Merge This Profile" feature under the "Actions" tab. To compare the two profiles go to the profile page for one of the matches and click on "Actions". The click "Merge This Profile" in the drop down menu. (Figure M5:1.) This opens a pop-up menu in which you can enter details of the profile you wish to merge with. (Figure M5:2.)

// M5:2.

Tip - The most efficient way of finding the right profile is to use the unique identifying number for that profile. If you haven't recently viewed a profile it may not pop up in the results when you type the name (see Figure M5:3).

Next go to the 2nd profile and copy the number only from its Link Address. (Figure M5:3.)

// M5:3.

Returning to the first profile paste the number into the window, press a space, and click "search more". Then click on the matched name that pops up. (Figure M5:4)

// M5:4.

Pressing "compare" opens the comparison page (Figure M5:5.)

// M5:5.

This window raised some interesting issues. There was a warning that the profiles were in different trees (see Figure P1 above) (i.e. not connected to the Big Tree). A curator could merge the profiles, but as a matter of courtesy it is best in these situations to contact the managers involved. Checking the managers of the profiles I discovered that the managers were both active users. I sent a message to them with a link to the match asking them if they wanted to merge the profiles/trees. Had the trees been abandoned they could be reported and the merge completed.


M6. Merging Private Profiles

There circumstances when you are unable to merge profiles and merging duplicates requires the approval of the managers. This will happen when profiles fall into the following categories:

● The people are private profiles within someone else's family group/living. (In tree view there is white border around the portrait)

● An isolated, standalone tree not connected to the World Family Tree (WFT) / Big Tree. (See Connecting to the Big Tree).
In such cases the following message is displayed at the bottom of the comparison screen when you try to merge:

These profiles are in different trees. Caution: Merging these profiles will merge their trees and could require merging other duplicate profiles Figure M6:1.

You do not have the option to merge the profiles. To go ahead you need to "Request to merge". Requested merges are drawn to the attention of the managers involved. (They also are included in the curator World Family Tree Queue merge centre for their action)

// M6:1

// One of the profiles may show a green tick, (Figure M6:2), alongside their portrait indicating that that that profile is approved. If there is no tick the manager needs to be asked for their approval.

Master Profiles - (In tree view there is purple border around the portrait) - If one of a duplicate pair is a Master Profile then only curators can complete the merge. A user can initiate or request that they are merged and the curator of the MP will be notified of the request. It is not possible to merge two Master Profiles - you need to contact the curators involved.

Abandoned tree outside the privacy zone. This means that there is no one to approve the other side of the merge request. You need to ask a curator to assist.

"Zombies" If a historical profile is wrongly marked as living - ask a curator for assistance - they can either merge these directly or set them to public / deceased so that they can be merged

Claimed profiles (active users, abandoned tree users). (In tree view there is blue border around the portrait.) Merges of their duplicates removes any other manager. A curator's assistance is required in the case of abandoned trees, (above); Active/claimed profiles need to be approved by the person involved.


M7. Resolve Duplicates in Tree View

If you know that there are duplicates in a family (children, wives etc.) you can merge them in tree view in two ways - Firstly see 1. Drag-and-Drop above and secondly by opening the menu on a profile node in tree view -"more", (Figure M6:1), and selecting Resolve duplicates" (Figure M7:1), from that menu.

// M7:1.

You will then be shown the stacking tray, (Figure M7:2), where you can merge the duplicates.

// M7:2

To do this drag-and-drop the duplicates onto one another by clicking on one and dragging it over the other, dropping it in place by releasing the mouse. Repeat this for all duplicates found. (Figure M7:3). You will see that there is the ability to "unlink" should you make a mistake.

// M7:3.

Note. Which node should you move? It is best to drag the node which is a Master Profile, is the oldest or has the most managers onto the later less "managed" profile. A Master Profiles cannot be merged with another Master Profile. You need to get assistance from a curator if you run into such a situation.

When you click "Merge Duplicates" you are taken to a comparison page where details for each profile are seen in greater depth. Carefully check the information for each pair of profiles (you will be taken to the next pair when you complete the first) before you elect to either press either "Yes, Merge these Profiles or "No they're different". You can also "decide later" should you need to research further. Once you have completed or removed the merges as necessary the "stacking tray re-opens, this time without the duplicates.

When there are a number of duplicates to be merged they will follow one another until all have been completed, returning to the stacking tray after the last one is done. Watch out for the message that pops up after each merge drawing your attention to "Merge nearby duplicates or resolve conflicting data". Sometimes this message doesn't mention both duplicates and data - which means that there are none of one.


TIP Using cmd+ clicking on the "resolve conflicting data" opens the window for those conflicts in a separate tab where you can attend to them after the merging is done. Exploring the "View Nearby Merge Issues" from that profile after resolving the issues will list any outstanding conflicts that need your attention. See Data Conflicts Sections B and C.

// Linking //

When you have established that there is a profile already on Geni through searching and reviewing as explained in "A Searching" above you will want to connect to that tree. This is far more preferable to blindly building a tree which at some stage will need merging into another.

The first thing to do is visit the matched profile. The profile is probably public otherwise your searches will not have revealed enough information for your to be sure of the match. If the profile has many managers it suggests that the profile is in the "Big Tree" and linking to it will be straight forward. On the other hand the profile may have only one manager in which case it is a courtesy to send a message to that manager explaining why you think you are connected to to it and that you would like to link your tree. Look at the tree view of the profile as well to see if any other people on it are familiar to you.

If you get no response to your query contact a curator and ask them to check whether the manager is active or whether it is an abandoned tree. The curator will be able to help you go forward from there.

Occasionally a manager will respond negatively - there are stand-alone trees on Geni and their wishes to maintain a tree independent of the Big Tree needs to be respected. If this is the case again enlist the assistance of a curator who can advise you on how to proceed. It may be necessary for the matched profiles to be made Master Profiles with a Curator Note explaining the situation so that the profiles cannot be merged.

However - if all goes to plan and there are no obstacles you can proceed as using the Merge techniques above.. Note. If you are unable to do carry out a merge enlist the assistance of a curator.

1. If you have not added a duplicate profile to the tree, but have added a profile which is a directly related to the profile you have found (Figure M8:1) you can follow the "Drag and Drop" technique.

// M8:1 - New tree

The tree view you have will depend on the Preferences you have selected - accessed through the menu at the centre bottom of the tree view screen.

// M8:2//
2. In Tree View identify the profile node which is connected to the match found in your search. (Patrick Henry Joseph Brown). Click on "more", opening up the options window (Figure M8:2).

3. Select and click on "Move this Person". The result is that the node for Patrick Henry Joseph Brown moves up to the top right hand corner. (Figure M7:3.)

// M8:3.

4. Next go to tree view of the profile who you identified as being the father of Patrick Henry Joseph Brown. If the node for Patrick is not present on this tree refresh the page and wait for it to appear in the top right corner. (Figure M8:4.)

// M8:4.

5. In this tree you have established that Patrick Thomas Brown and Elizabeth Mary Jane Green are the parents of Patrick Henry Joseph Brown. Place the curser over the node for him (in the corner), click and drag the node until it is over that of Patrick Thomas Brown. Release the mouse hold. A window asking you what the relationship is between the two profiles will open. (Figure M8:5.) M8:5.

// C6.//
6. Select Son. You will be asked "Are you sure?". (Figure M8:6.) Click yes if this is the case. The two trees have been successfully linked. (Figure M8:7.)

// M8:7.

The above is the most simple possible scenario because all the profiles were within the management/edit of the same person - no conflicts or further merges to do, with no need to request a merge. This is not always the case.


// - Refreshing Relationships //

After a profile and its tree have been merged into another it is possible that the "Relationship Path" will have changed as a result. The following example serves to show, firstly, that a simple merge can change the relationship path, but more importantly that to get the most accurate path Tree Conflicts also need to be resolved. Figure M9:1 shows the relationship path between myself and John Parkin before I merged his profile with a duplicate.

// M9:1

// Having merged the profiles, (but as yet not visiting "tree view" to deal with any Tree conflict that may have arisen), the relationship window had changed - Figure M9:2. Although the relationship path is still the same a refresh button, (similar to that illustrated left), had appeared to the right of the relationship path. If you hold the curser over that icon a pop up tab tells you that the relationship has been "updated today".

// M9:2

Clicking the refresh icon instigates a search to recalculate the relationship path based on the recent merge. After a while the new relationship was shown to be as in Figure M9.3

// M9:3

As mentioned above this relationship was calculated after the simple merge of the duplicate profiles BEFORE dealing with any tree conflicts. , The results are shown here to illustrate how much relationships can be changed after a merge. I went to the tree view for John Parkin and dealt with the tree conflict that had resulted after the merge, and then returned to his profile. I was again presented with the "refresh" icon as there had been further changes (Figure M9:4).

// M9:4

Clicking thie refresh button resulted in another relationship path as seen in Figure M9:5.

// M9:5

Keep an eye open for a refresh icon in the relationship path window whilst carrying out merges, and refresh the path if it is there. It makes a difference!!


Getting Involved

Feel free to follow, request to collaborate //

Further Reading and related projects

Useful Links

Geni Start here Basics
User Guide for Merging Profiles by Eugene Thomas
How to merge profiles on Video by Randol Schoenberg
Working sensibly - The ABC of merges, merging and linking profiles is a project which explains how to check for profiles before tree building by searching for them first.
International Help Portal
Working with the Big Tree
Connecting to the Big Tree


Merge Centre - The primary list of merge-issues that you have.

Pending merge - This is when two (or more) profiles have been merged via the tree but the actual profiles have NOT yet been merged. In the Tree View, these are indicated by a small blue circle with a plus sign in it (+) in the bottom-left corner of the profile's box. In the profiles this is indicated by a message that says "This profile has been linked to other profiles pending a merge. View his other profiles and complete the pending merges." in a light-pink box near the top of the profile.

Stacked profiles - When multiple profiles are in a pending merge, they are said to be "stacked", because they were dragged one onto the other. People will also refer to this as "the stack" or "stacking tray".

Compare profiles screen - This screen is used to compare two, (or more see Merge Carousel), profiles to each other and actually merge them.

Merge carousel - When more than two profiles are in a stack, then at the bottom of the compare profiles screen, you will see a line of 1-6 boxes. Clicking on them will compare the profile on the left, to a different profile in the stack.

"Main" profile - When the merge is created, Geni automatically chooses the profile with the more complete information (and more managers), as the one that the other profile(s) will be merged into. The manager of that profile will be listed as the first manager. ALL managers of the combined profiles retain FULL control and access to the profile. So there is NO practical difference as to which manager is “first”. When looking at the compare profiles screen, you can identify which profile will end up as main. It's the one with the manager's name in bold.

Focus person – lists of merge issues are generally shown with regard to a specific person. They will each be described with relation to that person (if related).