Oh gosh, this week’s topic gave me so many ideas, but making it genealogically relevant was hard! So I thought I would go for a how-to and why sort of post. Let’s talk about merging duplicates on WikiTree!
First of all, when I joined WikiTree, I wasn’t entirely sure what I was getting into there. A collaborative tree is not for everyone, but once you get into the teamwork aspect and the idea of making the profiles the best they can be, it can get addictive. Of course, the goal of WikiTree is one connected family tree, which means one entry per person, be they descendant or ancestor. I feel that WikiTree works well when people embrace it in the intended spirit – working together to provide the best and most complete profiles possible for our ancestors!
Naturally, duplicate profiles happen. Many exist and go unnoticed, unless members are working on a particular person, or a new member uploads a GEDCOM and receives notifications of duplicates. How should you manage a merge on WikiTree?
First and foremost, make sure you’re actually looking at the same people. I had a merge proposed for the Pardon Simmons profile when I managed it (I cleaned my watchlist recently, because it was far beyond what I am actively researching and willing to manage at this time):
The other Pardon Simmons that was proposed as a match/the same person was this one:
The first step when someone proposes a merge on WikiTree is to compare the profiles side by side. It is obvious in this instance that the two men of the same name and same place of birth were not the same person, simply by the birth and death dates. I rejected the merge, however I did find a duplicate of the Pardon Simmons born in 1768 that I was able to merge into one tidy profile.
Then again, sometimes you will find not just one duplicate, but many. I recently took on an unsourced bio with no dates and no locations for an Ephraim Burrell. I did that because I have Burrells in my family, the Burrells are well-documented in Weymouth and Braintree, Massachusetts, so I thought it would be easy to find information on him, and I just wanted to improve a profile to help improve the tree.
Once I started digging and compiling sources on him, I found that there was not one profile for him, but 3 on WikiTree. None of the information was consistent. One had a birth date. One had a birth and death date. One had two of his children. Neither had his wives, however the profile I had adopted had one wife.
It was a bit of a task to merge all 3 mostly blank profiles into one…
I had to adopt all 3 profiles, merge one into another, and then merge that merged profile into yet another. But the end result of my work was that we went from 3 profiles for the same person with varying and minimal amounts of information to this profile encompassing as many details as I could find about Ephraim’s life:
So if you are a fellow WikiTreer and would like to do something for the overall “health” of the tree, why not search out potential duplicates to join together and improve by merging, followed by sourcing and bio improvement? Of course, be sure to confirm that the profiles you’re merging are definitely the same person! If the profiles are managed by other people, they will have to approve the merge, and that’s where communication becomes important. Personally, I like to look for orphaned profiles that need some TLC and go from there.
Regardless, this helps everyone who comes to WikiTree, whether as a registered user or someone who happens to find it in a search for an ancestor.