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User Tutorial - Merge Guide


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 Geni. With a greater awareness of Tree and Data Conflicts we can improve the quality of the tree.

See also How do I merge duplicate profiles? on Geni help.

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 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.

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 up 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

11. Locked Relationships

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. 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.

This 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.

NOTE: If a bad merge has been made on the tree Curators have the ability to undo that merge - contact one with the URL of the profile involved.

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 in doubt DON'T! If you think it is a good match but with some errors in one of them, copy the URL of the comparison and send that to the managers of the profiles involved for their feedback.

Remember! If you do merge profiles by mistake please contact a curator who can undo the merge and help correct the mistake.


Merging Profiles

// 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. Merging Duplicates in different Tree View pages

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. A pop up information window opens bottom right informing you that you are in move mode. Whilst still holding down the cmd button click on the duplicate you wish to move, drag the node to the other profile and drop it onto the duplicate. Release cmd. A window opens asking you to select the relationship between the two profiles. (See Figure M1:1). Depending on the choice made either a comparison window will open or other pop-ups may open - follow the instructions and complete the process as described from M2.5 onwards below.

// M1:1

NOTE: On a Mac use the CONTROL button to get into MOVE mode. Control on a Mac works the same as using command above.

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 a yellow triangle with an exclamation mark in it is visible on the tree don't be alarmed! This shows that there are tree conflicts to attend to, and that further merging is probably necessary. (Figure M1:2). Go to Tree Conflicts for further help.

// M1:2.


See also M6. 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" button

Note The following applies when the profiles to be merged are on the same Tree View. Go to M7 and M8. below where how to use the same technique with profiles in different tree views is explained.

M2-i In tree view identify the profiles you wish to merge (Figure M2:1)

// M2:1

M2-ii Click on the tree node of one of the duplicates to open the side Panel (Figure M2:2)

// M2:2

M2-iii Open the drop-down menu under "More" (Figure M2:3)

// M2:3

M2-iv Click Move Profile from that menu (see Figure M2-3 above). This will result in a copy of that node to be placed in the top, right corner of screen view. (Figure M2-4)

// M2:4

M2-v Click on that node and drag it onto the duplicate node on the tree (Figure M2-5) Select from the options in the pop-out menus. In this case "This person is the same".

// M2:5

M2-vi This will open up a comparison window (Figure M2-6). Click "Yes, merge these profiles

// M2:6

M2-vii Open the conflicting data for the merged profiles and select the correct details. Save. (Figure M2-7) M2:7

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.

M2-viii An alternative way to accomplish the same thing is to select "Resolve Duplicates at step M2-iii above. The window to do so, (Figure M2-8), will open.

// M2:8

M2-ix Drag and drop the duplicates onto one another (Figure M2-9) Save and then complete as in steps M2-vi and vii.

// M2:9

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.


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 raises some interesting issues. There is sometimes 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. If a tree has been abandoned they could be reported and the merge completed.

There is another scenario which is in place when relationships have been locked on the one profile matched. This is usually because some profiles have MANY people connected to the same profile and the merge would result in a long run of follow up merges - it is preferable not to have to do this. At the comparison window of such a match it is advisable to compare the available descendants or ancestors lists to see if there are any areas where there are new sections of the tree that needs to be imported.

// Banner - Relationships locked

When merging into a Master Profile with locked relationships, the tree connections of the non-Master profile are disconnected. This is the desired result, as it protects the integrity of the existing tree relationships instead of potentially introducing errors.

// M5:6

The profiles affected in a merge where the relationship is locked is illustrated in Figure M5:6 above. The purple person represents the MP profile with locked relationships. The red people are those direct relatives whose profiles are affected by merging with the relationship locked MP, but THEIR relationships are not affected when merging. Essentially parents, wives and children of the primary profile will be discarded when a merge is made into an MP where relationships are locked. Black represents those profiles not affected in a merge by the relationship lock.

If both parent's profiles are locked, all the children are locked to those parents. If only one parent is relationship locked, the unlocked parent's family members NOT connected to his/her protected wife/husband are not affected. However - adding to the tree through the red profiles, as well as siblings of the parents and children can only be done by a curator. Merging into siblings of the locked MP is not affected.

Except for the medieval tree (before 1500), if you can complete the merge, please do so. The “discarded” tree portion should re-match for a separate merge opportunity. If you cannot complete the merge, request it; the request routes to the managers and curators merge centres for their action.

The merge comparison window offers you the option to view a side-by-side descendant or ancestor report for additional information. It is worth doing this to see if there are branches not yet added to Geni to explore. If these are not protected by the relationships lock you can link to the new branch from the chart of the duplicate tree to review the matches. If a duplicate is not flagged there, then copy the URL of the duplicate and open the corresponding profile in the original descendants comparison list. Follow the process as described in M3 above and complete.

Hint: open up matching “discarded but good relationship” spouses in another window for the next profile-by-profile action.

Examining new relationships, (especially of immediate relatives which ARE protected by the relationships lock), in the duplicate profile, (which would be discarded when a locked relationship profile is merged with another), may reveal sourced information which would improve the Geni tree. In this case contact the curator of the original profile suggesting that they be examined with the view to be added or revised.

See Locked Relationships for further information and examples.


M6. Merging Private Profiles

NOTE: Curators are not able to work with Private Profiles unless they have specifically been asked to do so by managers. This includes resolving duplicates.

There are 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- Merging Profiles from Different Tree Views

Sometimes it is necessary to merge two profiles which are in different tree view pages, or in different trees. Related to the next topic - M8 - Linking, as well as M3, merging from a Profile page. This sub-section shows how to merge such a profile from tree view.

M7- i From the page where one of the duplicates is displayed in tree view, click on the tree node to open the side Panel (see Figure M2:2 above)

M7- ii Open the drop-down menu under "More" (Figure M2:3)

M7- iii Click Move Profile from that menu (see Figure M2-3). This will result in a copy of that node to be placed in the top, right corner of screen view. (Figure M2-4)

M&- iv Open the tree view for the duplicate profile. The node of the profile you are moving should be in the top right corner. If it isn't refresh the page.

Complete the merge as in M2- v through to M2-viii


M8- Linking trees (profiles)

When you have established that there is a profile already on Geni through searching and reviewing as explained in " the Searching" tutorial, or Smart Matches offered for your consideration and review, you will want to connect to the two profiles or trees. This is 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.


// - 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


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).