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 Duplicates

See a tutorial on merging duplicates
Avoiding Duplicates:
Before adding new records, do a search over all branches on the site to be sure that the people are not already entered as part of someone else's branch.  If they are already there, then you can enter any missing family members and link them to their existing relatives.

Also remember that this is a growing tree -- with other researchers adding new information, search results down the road may include more than they do today.

Finding Duplicates:
Under Collaborate > Find Duplicates is a report that will run across all names in your branch of the tree, comparing to the all names in the entire system, and will report back any possible duplicate records.  This is based on the following:

  • two people having the same surname
  • similar first names.  This does match people with a few of the most common variations of given names.  For example, "Mary" matches "Polly", "William" matches "Bill", etc.
  • same gender
  • same race (based on the race checkboxes on the editing page)
  • birth and death dates within 4 years of each other, or blank death dates.  Note: This counts only people who have birthdates entered, as matching a common name with no birthdate would match too many others -- thus it is good always to put in speculative birthdates where exact ones are not known.
  • birth and death places that do not exclude each other, or blank places.  For example, places of "NC" and "NC, Martin Co" will potentially link two people as born in the same place, but "NC, Beaufort Co" and "NC, Martin Co", or "GA" and "NC" will not.
  • similar or blank spouse names
  • similar or blank parent names

This is one example of how consistently formatted place names are important, as "NC, Martin Co" and "Martin Co, NC" will not match as being the same place.

It is likely that this will produce pairs of people who are not duplicates, but there is not enough information for the system to determine that they are not the same person.  For these cases, they can be cleared from the duplicate list by

  • editing one or both of the people in question and update their information to be more specific, where possible -- such as recording dates or places where they were blank or not as specific as they could be, OR
  • clicking the "Not Dupes" link on the far right.  If no other distinguishing details are known, but you know that the pair in question are not the same person, then click this link.  The line will turn gray to indicate they are marked, and they will not show up the next time the duplicate check is run.

If the pair in question could be the same person but you don't really know, then maybe leave them there as a reminder to keep looking for more information.  Maybe contact other researchers for both of the people to ask the questions you may have.

Merging
Clicking a person's name will open that person's record in a new window, so that the duplicate list will stay as it is -- you do not have to keep re-running it to return to it as you continue down the list.

If your screen is large enough, you can open side-by-side the two windows for the two duplicate people, and compare their information.  Then edit one to contain any additional information that the other has, and delete the other.

Importance
Resolving the duplicates is important both for you and for other researchers.  If two of the same person are not merged, then you will only see part of the information, and other people browsing your information may be missing whole branches of the tree they would not see otherwise.

The list of possible duplicates will be emailed to you once a month, to notify you of ones you may not be aware of, and to remind you to keep on top of resolving them.

Updated: 9-30-2011