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User Tutorial - Tree Conflicts



... for Resolving Tree Conflicts after merging profiles

The purpose of this project is to explain how to safely and correctly resolve tree conflicts which may have arisen as a result of merging profiles on Geni.

This is a tutorial project and so 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.

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.

See other user tutorials


Getting Involved

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The best approach is

Search, Match, Link before building duplicate trees...

// not build, duplicate, merge, resulting in
...Tree conflicts and Data conflicts

Merging duplicate profiles on Geni has a knock-on effect. Merges lead to data and tree conflicts. It is difficult to separate them from each other! This project aims to explain how to resolve tree conflicts created after a merge. For guidelines on how to resolve data conflicts which may have arisen as a result of merging profiles go to the Data Conflicts project.

Note that often tree conflicts arise from bad merges. Before making major changes to relationships, first check the Revisions tab on the profile page to see if this has been the case. If there has been a bad merge this can be undone by a curator. The conflicts are often resolved this way

In many instances when you "view tree" from the Tree Conflicts list at your Merge Centre the stacking tray that opens has no duplicates or parent conflict and can be easily dismissed by "assigning parents" - as there are no parent conflicts there is nothing else to do and following the instructions you can close the window.

This project will evolve as examples of tree conflicts are added - if you have any to report or suggest please get in touch.


A. - Viewing existing tree conflicts

B. - Resolving tree conflicts

C1 - Parent Conflicts

  • C1. The parents are duplicates
  • C2. One father with multiple wives
  • C3. Two different pairs of parents
  • C4. Duplicate father with two mothers with different names.

D. Changing Parents


// Viewing existing tree conflicts

A1. Merge Centre

At the top right of the screen (in all views of Geni) there is a little box to the left of your profile thumbnail - Figure A1:1. This will sometimes be coloured red with a number included., indicating that there are new notifications which you have not accessed. Otherwise it will be a grey box.

// A1:1.

// A1:2.

Click on the box which will open the Notifications menu - Figure A1:2.

Clicking on Matches will open up your personal Merge Centre - see the Figure A1:3. below. Matches are dealt with more thoroughly in Section B at Merge Guide.

You have the choice of viewing Matches, Requested Merges, Tree Conflicts and Data Conflicts, all of which need your attention depending on the type of Geni subscription you have.

For the purpose of this exercise we are looking at the section called Tree Conflicts. Selecting that tab will give you a list of profiles to consider. (Figure A1:3.)

// A1:3.

A2. Tree Conflicts - Tree View

// The yellow triangle in the left hand corner of a node in tree view, (Figure A2:1), signifies that two Profiles have been merged and that there is a conflict that needs to be resolved. A conflict can include not knowing what set of parents is the correct set of parents (See C below). By clicking on the yellow triangle you will open a "stacking tray" where you are prompted to merge duplicates which will work towards resolving the conflict. (See B below)

// A2:1.


// Resolving Tree Conflicts

At 3. Merge this Person - from a Profile Page at Merge Guide we saw how to merge duplicate profiles for Field Marshal FitzRoy Somerset, 1st Baron Raglan. When the merge was successfully completed the following banner appeared at the top of his profile page.


Go to "View tree" using the link to the right on the profile page. In tree view it is clear that there are a number of issue to be resolved. (Figure B1.)

// B1

If you open "edit" on either the profile page or in tree view you will see that your attention is drawn to the existing conflicts on the Main and Relationships pages. (Figure B2.)

Tip - when you are faced with a tree with a number of tree conflicts showing as in B2 - process the mere(s) higher up the tree first - approaching it that way will incorporate any duplicates that need doing in the lower section.

// B2.

Do not be alarmed by the exclamation marks in triangles! They indicate that there are tree conflicts to attend to.

Clicking on the yellow triangle attached to the node for Field Marshal FitzRoy Somerset opens a window often referred to as a stacking tray. (Figure B3) It shows all the nodes connected to a profile in one easy window so that duplicates can be identified. This window is also accessed from the profile page by clicking the link shown in B1 above.

// B3.

// B4.//
In this window you can see that he has two wives, although there are differences in how the name is written. There are also two children whose names and dates are very similar. These are duplicates which need merging. 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 B4). You will see that there is the ability to "unlink" should you make a mistake.

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. (Figure B5).

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.

// B5.

As there are no further duplicates click "assign parents", (bottom left of the window). This option can be selected if at B2 had there been no duplicates.

Because there were no parent conflicts to decide about the window lists a further 3 merges to process (Figure B6.) See C1 below for conflicts involving a profile with multiple sets of biological parents

// B8.// B6.//

Repeat the above process for all the merges listed. This will probably snow ball as you work through depending on how extensive the duplicate tree extends. Once you get the window that tells you there are no more merges (Figure B7) to be done return to the original profile - the starting point for the merge - and start dealing with the data conflicts that have arisen.

// B7.

Tip. To easily return to the focus point on the tree click on the image at the bottom of the navigation and magnifying slider at the bottom left of the screen. (Figure B8).

To see how to deal with the data conflicts from this exercise please go to Data Conflicts where the exercise is continued at C. View conflicts which may have arisen as a result of a merge you have carried out.


// Cannot set Parents

Sometimes when trying to resolve a tree conflict you will come across a profile which cannot be completed because there are multiple biological parents. The following message, (Figure C1), is flagged up after merging duplicates in the stacking tray and selecting a set of parents from those available.

// C1

// C2.

When there are multiple sets of parents in a tree conflict alarm bells should ring! There may be a simple solution, but it could also indicate a much bigger problem. DON'T guess! Establish the facts!

The following sub-headings will hopefully cover all options in time. Examples with solutions will be added as they arise to help understand how to resolve these sorts of conflicts.

The possible scenarios are -
C1. The parents are duplicates
C2. One father with multiple wives
C3. Two different pairs of parents
C4. Duplicate father with two mothers with different names.

To resolve the issue you need to go to the profile page and establish why there are 2 sets of parents. The problem has arisen because of a merge which needs closer examination.

C1. The parents are duplicates

Easily resolved using drag-and-drop in the stacking tray. See procedure in B above.

C2. One father with multiple wives

Establish who the correct mother was in order to select the correct coupling at the parent choice window (Figure C2 above).

The following is an interesting example. When looking at the stacking tray for the Tree Conflict it seemed that there was the choice of 2 mothers. (Figure C2:1).

// C2:1.

Investigation revealed that there were in fact 4 wives on the tree, and that the mother of Willem Adriaan (Hester van Jaarsveld) was not reflected in the stacking tray. The relationship was sourced.

The edit relationships windows were as in Figure C2:2 (tree view) and Figure C2:3 (profile view).

// C2:2
// C2:3

There were two routes to take. Firstly, as he was not the child of either the two sets of parents so I could remove both of them from his profile (see the options available in Figure C2:3 above and the closer view Figure C2:4 below. Both the available mothers died before he was born.

// C2:4.

Looking at the drop-down parent options of the top/first parents at the top of the edit screen, (Figure C2:5), revealed that the correct parents were available for selection as the third choice.

// C2:5.

!!Warning!! - If I ticked the box alongside the incorrect parents (Figure C2:6) and pressed remove he would be left with no parents and would be disconnected from the family.

The solution was to select the correct parents from the drop down selection (Figure C2:5) and remove the relationship with the second incorrect parents. This removed the Tree conflict from his node and he was correctly placed in the tree.

// C2:6.

C3. Two different pairs of parents

When viewing this stacking tray (Figure C3:1) ...
// C3:1.

... we see multiple sets of Biological parents. Although the names of the father's are very similar their dates of birth are way out - nearly 200 years between them! Clicking "Assign parents" would result in the window below (Figure C3:1a.) which offers no real solution. Although I know that the parents here are Willem (1703 - 1756) and Johanna Catharina Campher (1707 - c1746) (Maria Magdalena van Wyk b 1732 being my 6x Great Grandmother) selecting those parents doesn't solve the problem. There has no doubt been a bad merge here. Selecting the correct parents would still mean that the Maria Magdalena, daughter of the other couple was still merged with the wrong person. The best solution is to cancel the tree conflict and investigate further.

// C3:1a.

On her profile page under revisions I noted that Maria Smit had been merged with Maria Magdalena van Wyk. It is not possible to see the profile page of Maria Smit as she had been merged into the current profile. The unresolved data conflicts didn't help. The only thing to do in this situation was to undo the merge which has probably wrong, causing the problem. If the merge was correct it could be repeated. You will need to enlist the assistance of a curator to do this.

Returning to the tree view after the merge was undone the stacking tray showed that there was now only one set of parents. (Figure C3:2.)

// C3:2.
The moral of the story is not to take the easy route which would leave an incorrect merge on the tree and probably a missing child in the family of the incorrect parents! I returned to Maria Magdalena van Wyk profile and attended to data conflicts which had arisen.

C4. Duplicate father with two mothers with different names.

It could be that the father had two wives and the two trees merged didn't both have both wives recorded. Perhaps there was a child of the same name in both marriages. Further research is needed.

// Changing Parents

If you have a stacking tray showing two pairs of parents selecting the "correct" pair may just cover up a problem. There is usually a reason for that showing up - the most likely being that there has been a bad merge. If the "correct" parents are chosen then the "abandoned" couple end up minus a child of that name - their child effectively being merged into the other. Just changing the parents either in the stacking tray or through the relationship edit page effectively loses a child in one family. The best course of action in such instances is to look at the trees of both profiles to see firstly if there are two distinctly different families where that profile is not a duplicate and should not be merged - therefore get a curator to undo it, or secondly whether they are indeed the same family/person and one tree has incorrect parents in place. This is touched on in the 4th case at Merging Case Studies - bottom TC4

Note - Basic users are not able to change relationships. Pro members are only able to change relationships on profiles they have edit rights to.

D1 - Changing relationships within relationships window

To change the parents for a person on your tree go to the profile edit page either from the tree or the profile page. Open the 'Relationships' tab (Figure D4:1).

// D4:1.
See an additional example in C3 above.

For the sake of this illustration let us assume that this person has been placed as a child of the wrong wife. Click the arrows alongside the "Parents" panel to reveal the options available regarding parents. (Figure D1:1)

// Dd1:2.

Select the correct parents and then save and close. The person will be move to the correct placement on the tree.

D2. Person wrongly connected to parent on the tree.

When looking at the tree in Figure D2:1 Thomas Rowley has a 2nd, un-named wife, who is the mother of his child Dorothy born c.1623. This is not possible as he lived from c.1568 to c. 1602. Dorothy is in the wrong place in the tree. Thomas does have a daughter called Dorothy, born c1801, the mother being his wife Mary Cornwell. Expanding her branch of the tree (clicking the green balloon with +34 in it) doesn't help much, The green HyHeritage matches are also of no assistance as there are no parents added.

// D2:1.

It would be an easy solution to detach her from John Norton as she couldn't be his child, but before doing that it is worth doing a little research to see if you can establish whose child she was. The first port of call is her profile page.

Viewing the revisions on her profile reveals that she was originally added as Dorothy Norton in 2008. Over the years she has been the subject of a merge a number of times. It is not possible to undo most of these, but more recently 2 merges were made which don't ring true. -

1. Elizabeth Clark was merged into Dorothy Rowley. 2 Jul at 7:39 PM (Geni merge)
2. Dorothy Frigell was merged into Dorothy Rowley by --- 13 Jul at 2:44 AM
3. Dorothy // was merged into Dorothy Rowley. 17 Jul at 12:45 AM

There seemed to be no grounds for two of these merges, and by researching Dorothy I found no information as to who her parents were. I disconnected her as a child of Thomas Rowley.