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Working sensibly - The ABC of merges, merging and linking profiles

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This project replaces the need to send out countless private messages to those users whom create duplicate profiles on a regular basis. Although it is written with predominantly the South African part of the big tree in mind, it would also be relevant for older profiles (before Anno 1600).

The cornerstone of GENI is the single tree of Everyone. Individuals that would like to create their own trees and private profiles are best advised to use MyHeritage, even by GENI itself. Creating your own tree on GENI is defeating the purpose, and extremely selfish, as no one "owns" any one grandfather or -mother.

Let's propose that you have worked on MyHeritage before and now want to copy your own tree onto GENI. Depending on the size of your tree, that can take a very long time to create profiles by hand (while GENI is not really that Gedcom friendly), and is in fact unnecessary. All you have to do, literally, is to find the same profiles on GENI, remembering to try possible alternative spellings, link to those profiles to see what is missing, and fill in the missing data downwards.

What you should definitely not do, is to start with your tree, from the top, and create profiles down to yourself and closest relatives.

A single tree will only work if there are no duplicate profiles and by not searching for the same profiles on GENI first, every profile you create is potentially a duplicate profile.

The problem with duplicate profiles can be summarised by the following bullets:

  • if two profiles are similar but not the same person, it is likely that they will be merged and the correct information lost
  • if two profiles are the same person, someone has to take the time to merge the profiles and all other duplicates potentially created - valuable time that could otherwise have been spent on researching new data
  • GENI sometimes disconnects in the middle of a merge, and huge volumes of data can potentially be lost as a result

To summarise, creating your own profiles where such profiles already exist, is time wasted and potentially information lost by you as well by all others. And you are missing out on one of the best features of GENI, namely finding information which you may not have.

Let us illustrate some principles by way of an example or two.

1. Suppose you want to create a profile for Pierre Joubert who lived 1694 - 1730 in the Cape. From there you want to link to people living today (via relatives).

  • Best principles are to first Search for "Pierre Joubert" as in the first picture of this project. (searching alternative spellings if not at first successful)
  • The second picture will then appear, and you will scroll through the list (and go to the next page(s) if needed) until you find Pierre Joubert, a1b3, as displayed in the 2nd picture where results have been filtered - You can also filter the results, in this case probably best by Date of Birth.
  • When you find the profile, you next need to open the Pierre Joubert's profile in tree view.
  • You now have two ways to get to the tree view, either through the "View Tree" button next to Pierre Joubert's name, or via clicking on his profile and then selecting tree view
  • The third picture will now display, and you can by clicking on the tree view of any relative, move the focus until you find the place where you have information which is not already captured in the tree.
  • At some stage, you might find the profile you are looking for, or you will reach a point where your information is not in the tree. You can just add it from there.

2. A more common scenario perhaps, is that you are searching for missing ancestors, and you make a breakthrough and find the names (and other information like birth dates, which is very helpful), and you now want to add the missing ancestors... STOP! Before adding, first do a search like the search in no 1 above, and see if they are not already on the tree. If not, add them, else (i.e. you found existing profiles), you should follow the following procedure:

  • Open the profiles that you wanted to add, but already exist, in tree view.
  • Open the children of these ancestors (i.e. your profiles) in tree view in a separate window.
  • Click the "More" button for the children profiles in your tree view, and click on the blue "Move this person"
  • Now refresh the window of the ancestors, and on the right hand side the profiles of the children will appear in blue/pink blocks. (sometimes you have to repeat this, GENI bug)
  • Then you move the block while holding in the left mouse button after selecting the box, and drop it on the ancestor. GENI will then ask the relationship and you would select Child.
  • You can add most relations in this fashion.

3. A more complex matter is where you encounter duplicates (there are also duplicates remaining after most mergers).

  • The easiest way to clear up duplicates properly, is to find the master profiles or the profiles that are already part of the Big Tree. These duplicates show up with a yellow exclamation mark, having too sets of parents. You can then either:
  • Merge the two sets of parents, but that would in most cases also require further merges.
  • Or, what I suggest, set the set of parents to the ones in the big tree, and delete your duplicate set of parents.

User Guide for Merging Profiles by Eugene Thomas

See Merge Guide where an explanation is given on how to resolve data conflicts.

Another powerful way to avoid unnecessary duplication, particularly in seeking connections to a known ancestor already on Geni, is to use the Descendant Graph from the HistoryLink tools (that latter link is to the Geni Project for more details). That can make it visually apparent where the current set of Geni profiles exist ... or don't exist ... on Geni (at least for Public profiles). There counterpoint to that Descendant Graph tool is the corresponding Ancestor Graph, which looks 'upward' from a particular profile.

With either graph, you can quickly bring up a profile of interest by holding the letter 'X' key when you click on that name in the circular graph.