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I really really really hate the "Reason For Merge."

Do you want us to merge duplicates, or what? Get rid of it.

When you start adding REQUIRED, I start going for the door.
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  • 1
    You do not need to have an elaborate explanation. You could simply put a character in so it lets you go through even.
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  • 1
    Actually, if you cannot think of a reason for the merge, then why did you do it?

    If you are sure that the two records are for the same person, then just say so.
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  • 5
    It seems to me that the frustration with the merge reason statements is not knowing how to put into words what you are thinking in your head. This happened to me frequently before discovering Kathryn Grant's guidelines on how to write reason statements.

    After reading her simple guidelines all reason statements, including merge statements, have now become much easier to write. An example of a typical reason statement that I use is:

    "Barbara Clas K8YR-9QP and Anna Barbara Claus K27L-CXW both have the same name, both were christened on the same date, 30 October 1678, at the same location, Löchgau, Besigheim, Neckarkreis, Württemberg, both were born to the same parents, Mathias Clas and Elisabetha, and both married the same husband, Daniel Rüb, and were mother to his children."

    This may seem complicated but it is not. It has a simple format. It includes the names and PIDs of the duplicates and states several commonalities, which in this case include same name, same christening date and location, same parents, same husband and same children. To bolster the strength of the commonalties I add specific details such as the actual dates, places, parent names, and husband name.

    The first several reason statements are challenging to write, but after that I just copy paste them and change the details. It does take a little time to write them, but it is worth the effort. The last thing I want is for some ill informed person to come along and unmerge them (or detach sources). My greatest defense against that is to write detailed reason statements.

    So many times I have found ancestors who have been badly merged (mangled actually) with persons who have completely different names, different parents, different children, different residences, different centuries, etc., etc., etc. that I don't know how they could have even been on the same planet. It makes me wonder, whatever was going on in the head of the "merger?" If the "merger" had written clearly defined reason statements then maybe 1) they would have figured out in advance that it was an incorrect merge, or 2) it would help me understand why they performed such a merge.

    I agree with you that in the beginning reason statements are frustrating to write, but they can become much easier and actually become your "best friends." Do give them a try. Copy/paste of standard formats that you create can make the process much, much easier.

    Hope this helps with your frustration!!
    • Going a step further, here are some generic reason statements that I have created for attaching sources. I just copy/paste them into the reason statement box then modify the text that is in all caps. For instance the generic statement:

      Provides evidence of PARENTs relationship as FATHERMOTHER to HISHER SONDAUGHTER, CHILD.

      becomes

      Provides evidence of Johann Georg Müller's relationship as father to his son, Friedrich Müller.

      Below are the standard ones that I have found helpful; they save a lot of time. Feel free to use them if you want.
      __________________________________________________________

      Generic Reason Statements

      RELATIONSHIPS

      Provides evidence of PARENTs relationship as FATHERMOTHER to HISHER SONDAUGHTER, CHILD.

      Provides evidence of NAMEs relationship as HUSBANDWIFE to HISHER HUSBANDWIFE, NAME.

      BIRTH/CHRISTENING

      Provides evidence of NAMEs birth date and location plus HISHER parents' names.

      Provides evidence of NAMEs christening date and location plus HISHER parents' names.

      Provides evidence of NAMEs birth and christening dates and location plus HISHER parents' names.

      MARRIAGE

      Provides evidence of the marriage date and location for NAME and NAME plus their fathers’ names.

      Provides evidence of the marriage date and location for NAME and NAME plus their parents’ names.

      DEATH/BURIAL

      Provides evidence of NAMEs death date and location plus HISHER father’s name.

      Provides evidence of NAMEs burial date and location plus HISHER father’s name.

      Provides evidence of NAMEs death/burial dates and location plus HISHER father's name.

      Provides evidence of NAMEs death/burial dates and location plus HISHER parents’ names.

      Provides evidence of NAMEs burial date and location plus HISHER HUSBANDWIFE’S name.
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  • 4
    I feel like reason to merge statements are especially important considering how many bad merges I typically come across. When I attempt to correct bad merges, I can save a lot of time if specific information was included in the merge reason statement. Let me prelude this with the fact that I'm not great about writing reason statements sometimes because it is inconvenient. However, since they've started requiring the reason statement, I am taking time to write better reason statements.

    Speaking from the aspect of needing to locate a bad merge within a bunch of merges, I do think these reason statements are important. Here's what I'd like to see included in a reason statement for a merge:

    What information was exactly the same?--and be specific and say what the information actually was...this helps a ton with hijacked records. For example, same name: Ann Smith, and same birth date: 1734, and same parents: John Smith and Mary.

    What information was different and why is it a match despite the differing information? For example, one record listed the christening date as the birth date. Or, one record used the maiden name and the other record used the married name.

    This one is especially helpful: What relationships were brought over? For example, the archived record contained the spouse and the children and the surviving record contained the parents. Or, this merge brought over another child (and list that child's name).

    Giving this information will make the process of cleaning up bad merges a lot easier. Of course a person who takes the time to list out all of this information is far less likely to do a bad merge, but when I know a bad merge has taken place, and I'm looking through the change history at all the merges, then a merge with a really valid reason statement will be one that I'm less likely to worry about.

    If we think of those reason statements as being information that helps someone clean up bad merges, then writing them is less of a pain in the neck.

    Also, I wish that FamilySearch could build in a sort of form that encourages patrons to leave this sort of information as a reason statement. i think that would be far more productive than just asking for a reason statement. Most people really don't know what to write, and yet, given how many bad merges take place, this sort of information is valuable.
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  • The goal of the Reason statement is to inform subsequent users why you believed these two were the same person and what thinking you used regarding the resulting data you kept.

    The very first design actually specified an enhancement that was a running Reason statement - that followed you down the screen as you moved data left-right, so you could explain it as you went down. 

    I'm too lazy to manually do that, so I explain why I believe these are the same person (the name match, even though the birth placeis different, it's 100km away...). Its the same Reason I try to do for Attaching Sources and evaluating hints - "Why do you believe this is that guy..."
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  • "Names, dates, locations, relations match" Adding and subtracting what is applicable in the merge. If others in family are also merged, I usually mention that too: "Spouse/daughter/son also merged"

    Sometimes I elaborate with more detail, if it's necessary to clear up any confusion, such as DOB on one record was an approximation with no sources attached. Or John Wagner was first husband, Harry Smith was second.

    I usually tell patrons they "want anyone who happens upon this down the road to understand why you did what you did. Sometimes, that person down the road is you, who asks 'WHY did they do THAT?!"
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  • 5
    There are many places on the FamilySearch Family Tree where I basically refuse to fill out reason statements. Merges are emphatically NOT among them.

    In my view, the reason statement for a merge serves one primary purpose: to make sense of the change log. The way merges appear in them can be downright alarming ("parent-child relationship deleted" and so on), and figuring out who was merged with whom can be a non-trivial task, so I try to include all of the relevant PIDs and their relationships to each other. (I don't generally bother with exact names, since they tend to be indistinguishable, and thus are of no help in making sense of things.) My statements are typically of the form "Mary Smith ABCD-123 was an auto-duplicate of ABEF-456 based on the indexed baptism of her daughter Mary Jones ACDB-213."
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  • This reply was removed on 2020-04-12.
    see the change log
  • 1
    Don

    Unless users are willing to show they have taken the time and effort to evaluate (then state) the justification for the merge, NO I wouldn't want them to be involved in merging "duplicates".

    There has been too much emphasis on the "urgent" need to merge all duplicates - and too many crazy "possible duplicate" suggestions presented by the current algorithm. At least the enhanced procedure offers more time for reflection - especially to those whose main task appears to have only one "John Smith" in the whole of Family Tree!
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  • 1
    most merges are empty profiles with just a name.
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  • There is a difference between "REQUIRED" to do something, and VOLUNTEERING to do something. I am no longer a volunteer to this internet site if I am required.

    Still heading for the door.
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    • No, you will not. Volunteering is volunteering. Required is mandatory and should never be associated with a volunteering web site.
    • There are many times you are required to do something or required to have something for when you volunteer. Leaving this site for something like this is quite childish imo. Now when there used to be a bunch of bugs, yes I understand that because I didn't use this site for quite some time until I heard they fixed a bunch of things and then I fell in love with family history.
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  • 1
    Don,

    I'm curious. Why do you think that FamilySearch is a "volunteering web site?"

    In order to access all the features of the site, the potential user must create an account. It isn't voluntary, but mandatory. Yet, you seem to think that the site is voluntary?

    Well, it is. You can use the site as long as you abide by the requirements that have been set up.

    The change requiring an account took place relatively recently. There were complaints.

    The change requiring a reason statement for a merge has now taken place. You've lodged a complaint. Some users have said that they do not trust merges that do not have reason statements.

    With others, including myself, I am happy that it has become mandatory. Now I will not have to wonder, "Why did that user do that?"
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    • This comment was removed on 2020-04-16.
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    • FamilySearch.org is an independent site that is part of FamilySearch, International (and has its own upper management). While it shares a common signin with other Church sites, FamilySearch acts independently under the direction of the Family History Department, but exists (just as the forerunner, the Genealogical Society of Utah existed) to accommodate research by members for their ancestral lines and obligations toward those ancestral lines.

      Members have an obligation that is laid out in the Doctrine and Covenants, section 128, verse 24 (Last Sentence in that verse -- emphasis mine
      Let us, therefore, as a church and a people, and as Latter-day Saints, offer unto the Lord an offering in righteousness; and let us present in his holy temple, when it is finished, a book containing the records of our dead, which shall be worthy of all acceptation.
      If it wasn't for that statement from Joseph Smith, FamilySearch would not have to add memories, stories, life sketches, and numerous other elements to accomplish the current goal to reduce duplicated vicarious temple ordinances, but because we are instructed to make the records of our dead "worthy of all acceptation," the rest exists.

      The open-edit nature may not be the best approach, but it allows members and non-members to collaborate on their common ancestral lines. The recent changes are, from what I can tell, an attempt to get people to stop and think about the two records they are merging, rather than just merging because the system told them that one was a duplicate of the other.

      I would not be surprised to see reason statements for attaching sources to become mandatory in the future, as well, but that is a decision that FamilySearch will make, not me.
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  • 2
    Perhaps this is helpful? I have standard statements I use for the different reasons for merging:
    same name. same birthdate & place. same parents. same spouse & same marriage date & place. same children with same birth & death dates & places.

    Just saying they are the "same person" is not sufficient enough, IMO. There needs to be reasons, but the reasons do not need to be elaborate.
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  • 2
    I love the reason statements. They force me to stop and justify my actions.
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  • I can't get excited by this because I just saw someone write "same names, dates, places" as they merged people with different names "James Harris" and "James Harrison" and different locations together "Massachusetts" & "England."
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    • spell out what it means to be "same names" or
      same location" so that she won't write that "James Harris" & "James Harrison" are the "same name" or that "Massachusetts" & "England" are the "same location." Hmmm...
    • I think she knows they are different, she is just writing they are the same, because someone unmerged with reason statement "2 different people merged together."
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  • all you have to do write "duplicate" if thats what it is.
    Erika
    • Trouble is, how do you know that it's a duplicate. Obviously you think it is, else you wouldn't be merging it, but if I come along and wonder, are those 2 the same after all? What am I missing? Then some explanation about why you know them to be the same, would be welcome.
    • The real question is how do I know that the merged record was a duplicate. The word duplicate does not answer the question as to why the user thinks the record they merged was a duplicate. In responding to you above, and when I completed the merge, I wrote the following
      Despite such little information in the to-be-merged record, it is sufficient to determine, with the wife and child's name, that the two records are for the same person.
      In the case of the duplicate record that I was merging, there was little to suspect that the to-be-merged record was a duplicate, except for the details about the daughter.

      There was a second possible duplicate that was similar -- but in this case, the dates for the wife were all wrong. Since this took place in Lancaster County among the Swiss Mennonites, the dates were especially important because the families reused the given names over and over and married into families that did the same thing. It is not at all unusual to find and father, mother, and daughter all with the same names, but when the dates are added in, it is a very strong indicator that they are not the same family. Because of my knowledge working with three centuries of my family in that county, I rejected the possible duplicate as Not a Match with an explanation as to why this was the case.
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  • 1
    The most common reason that I, personally, list starts with : "nFS 2012 unsourced migration" followed by some specifics.

    Of course, that requires scrolling the change record to the beginning (usually 2012) of the changes.

    One other thing I've learned by helping others with merges is that most users do NOT seem to know is then a merge HAS already been done for the PID, that the identification of the subject is changed to the result of that MERGE throughout the record of changes for the current PID. And to truly analyze the changes you may need to examine those 'deleted' mergers- or even restore them (temporarily) to find what really happened. Correct merging can be a difficult process, correcting improper merges even MORE difficult.
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  • 1
    example of gedcom name-only skeletal profile: GSCT-ZG5

    i think i just merged 5 of these on different people.

    merging is almost always skeletal profiles into giant profiles.

    (FS should eliminate gedcom uploads.)
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  • This detail about mergers is very helpful and I have learned something about a very challenging point. I now understand how to better explain what I am doing. Thank you.
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  • This reply was removed on 2020-04-16.
    see the change log
  • This reply was removed on 2020-04-16.
    see the change log
  • 1
    One of the most common reason statements I input is "Same event". Many of the IDs I come across (obviously they are not usually recently created ones) were created purely to fit an event - christening or marriage. That's why we have ten separate IDs for a John Brown - one relating to each of his ten children's christening events.

    So "Same event" or "Same event / child / parents" if quite sufficient if there is no other detail on the ID being merged, except an attached source for the event. Obviously, if there are two IDs that have been worked on by different users, having different sources, inputs, notes attached, etc., a more extensive reason statement is required.

    My point is, just treat each merge according to its nature. There is no need to give a lengthy statement in many cases. When I HAVE done so, it certainly has not stopped other users undoing the merge, if they are so sure they are in the right. The problem largely lies with the stubborn users who are just not willing to collaborate and will never give up on their "my tree" mentality. For them, no amount of logical reasoning will ever be convincing enough.
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  • When I first got involved with the FamilySearch Family Tree, I too, like Larron Campbell, https://getsatisfaction.com/familysea... was convinced that a locked private Tree was the only way to go. In time I was persuaded to believe in the open edit concept of the now FamilySearch Family Tree database, but never lost my dream that it could be a locked private tree, and also an open edit FamilySearch Family Tree at the same time.

    I find it a dichotomy that an open edit database, (the FamilySearch Family Tree), is now using the "Required" feature? Is the FamilySearch Family Tree using the "Required" merging feature to save the open edit-ness of the FamilySearch Family Tree?, or will the FamilySearch Family Tree in the future use more and more of the "Required" features to make the FamilySearch Family Tree database more of a locked private tree, and also, an open edit tree?
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  • Thanks Tom for your "Feedback" reply, "Actually, it can matter if a record is merged with a profile that isn't the same person, but has earlier ordinances than those you submitted and completed."
    https://getsatisfaction.com/familysea...

    At least I know now why FamilySearch has placed so much emphasis on merging the last little while. Not saying I am going to work in the "Family Tree" doing a lot of merging, but I can see why the new merging tool was created and implemented.
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