Help get this topic noticed by sharing it on Twitter, Facebook, or email.

Merge error message - whaaaaa?

I tried merging two people today and got a message I've never seen before, and don't understand WHY I'd get it.

It says: "These two people can be merged, but only if the possible duplicate is the surviving individual. Click Switch Positions to change the merge order.



Any idea WHY I'd get such a message?
2 people like
this idea
+1
Reply
  • 2
    I believe a typical reason is because the person on the right was a member of the church and it has info relating to their church membership record. In such case they want the church membership record to be the main one in the system.
    Non-members like myself can't see those details inside the record, so we can't consider them for attempted merge.

    In a quick look at those two, it seems like the one on the left was created few years ago from a GEDCOM upload, while the one on the right has been in system long time with lots of history. So that is the one I would want to survive, if I was doing such merge.
  • (some HTML allowed)
    How does this make you feel?
    Add Image
    I'm

    e.g. sad, anxious, confused, frustrated happy, confident, thankful, excited kidding, amused, unsure, silly indifferent, undecided, unconcerned

  • 1
    I've gotten the message before, can't tell you why but I switch the positions and move the most accurate information to the surviving individual.
  • (some HTML allowed)
    How does this make you feel?
    Add Image
    I'm

    e.g. sad, anxious, confused, frustrated happy, confident, thankful, excited kidding, amused, unsure, silly indifferent, undecided, unconcerned

  • 1
    The person requiring "remaining" has more information and Ordinances complete.
  • (some HTML allowed)
    How does this make you feel?
    Add Image
    I'm

    e.g. sad, anxious, confused, frustrated happy, confident, thankful, excited kidding, amused, unsure, silly indifferent, undecided, unconcerned

  • (some HTML allowed)
    How does this make you feel?
    Add Image
    I'm

    e.g. sad, anxious, confused, frustrated happy, confident, thankful, excited kidding, amused, unsure, silly indifferent, undecided, unconcerned

  • This is a software imposed requirement. By switching the survivor the database can accommodate the resulting survivor's set of database entity relationships (parent/spouse relationships, not-a-match, and temple ordinance references...). One design is to force the switch but would require adequate warnings to the user that the software is switching it for them.
  • (some HTML allowed)
    How does this make you feel?
    Add Image
    I'm

    e.g. sad, anxious, confused, frustrated happy, confident, thankful, excited kidding, amused, unsure, silly indifferent, undecided, unconcerned

  • Joe, I'm afraid there's some context that I'm missing. The resulting survivor's set of database entity relationships?

    I've swapped and merged them by now, but if memory serves me correctly, both persons had relationships, etc. established, so I'm at a loss to understand a lack of those on the part of either one, leading me to believe that there's some other context here.
  • (some HTML allowed)
    How does this make you feel?
    Add Image
    I'm

    e.g. sad, anxious, confused, frustrated happy, confident, thankful, excited kidding, amused, unsure, silly indifferent, undecided, unconcerned

  • Sorry for the database talk. Basically all the stuff that go into connecting a Person to other database things like other Persons (relationships), changelog, temple, ... These Persons can still get big with all the connected pieces. 
  • (some HTML allowed)
    How does this make you feel?
    Add Image
    I'm

    e.g. sad, anxious, confused, frustrated happy, confident, thankful, excited kidding, amused, unsure, silly indifferent, undecided, unconcerned

  • The database talk isn't what I'm hung up on. I'm left with trying to understand why a merge with one person on the left can't be done until the person on the right becomes the person on the left (switching positions).

    To me, pointers to other relatives or merged attributes would be similar, regardless of who is on the left.

    That's where I'm getting hung up on.

    The "WHY?" of it all.
  • (some HTML allowed)
    How does this make you feel?
    Add Image
    I'm

    e.g. sad, anxious, confused, frustrated happy, confident, thankful, excited kidding, amused, unsure, silly indifferent, undecided, unconcerned

  • Looks to be a refinement of the merge process, something that evidently was discovered, possibly from merges that took place in the recent past resulting in calls to support.

    After the database in nFS was severed from the database in FS, the need to have a merge take place in a certain order appeared to have been resolved. This recent change suggests that another problem appeared, which could only be resolved by reversing the order of the merge.

    I think that is what Joe was saying.

    But I could be wrong.
  • (some HTML allowed)
    How does this make you feel?
    Add Image
    I'm

    e.g. sad, anxious, confused, frustrated happy, confident, thankful, excited kidding, amused, unsure, silly indifferent, undecided, unconcerned

  • Joe

    What I do not like about the "... software imposed requirement ..." is that in certain cases the OLDER individual/person in "Family Tree" CANNOT be the "Surviving" individual/person.

    I am sorry; but, whatever is involved in this "... software imposed requirement ...", that is NOT ACCEPTABLE - the User/Patron SHOULD ALWAYS be the one to choose who is the "Surviving" individual/person, NOT the "System".

    This "... software imposed requirement ..." NEEDS to be REMOVED.

    'Thank You' in advance.

    Brett

    ps: I have had a number of situations where an OLDER ( records both, (1) pre.2012 in "New.FamilySearch"; and, (2) later "Family Tree" ) well "Sourced" individual(s)/person(s) in "Family Tree" could not be the "Surviving" individual/person; and, had to be "Switched" with a VERY recently "Created" individual/person - NOT ACCEPTABLE.
  • (some HTML allowed)
    How does this make you feel?
    Add Image
    I'm

    e.g. sad, anxious, confused, frustrated happy, confident, thankful, excited kidding, amused, unsure, silly indifferent, undecided, unconcerned

  • 1
    Now I'm getting completely bamboozled.

    My mental map of what happened behind the scenes (in a merge) to all that LDS stuff that I don't want to know about, was that everything got merged and all the LDS "stuff" ended up on the merged person, nothing was left behind and I didn't need to worry about which I merged into which. (Generally I would keep the more detailed profile as the survivor but that's just a general principle)

    But this message seems to imply that there is stuff that cannot be merged over from right-hand (to be deleted) to left-hand (survivor), despite all what I thought the previous assurances had said!

    Is it specific stuff that can't be sent "right to left"? Is it about the amount of stuff? Or what? I've never seen this message, it has to be said - but if I had, I'm not sure that I'd have believed it given those previous reassurances, and would have suspected a bug.
  • (some HTML allowed)
    How does this make you feel?
    Add Image
    I'm

    e.g. sad, anxious, confused, frustrated happy, confident, thankful, excited kidding, amused, unsure, silly indifferent, undecided, unconcerned

  • We really do need to know the "why" the merge must take place in one direction. Is there something in the original record that can't be (or isn't) moved? If it is, then knowing what that is can and should allow us, as users, to duplicate the information so that the marge can take place with either record being the surviving record.
  • (some HTML allowed)
    How does this make you feel?
    Add Image
    I'm

    e.g. sad, anxious, confused, frustrated happy, confident, thankful, excited kidding, amused, unsure, silly indifferent, undecided, unconcerned

  • Brett, what you want and deem acceptable may be a problem. We really do need to know why... Back in the days when nFS and FS were still "joined at the hip," it was a matter of logistics between the two databases and so what you called unacceptable wasn't a matter of choice. It was a requirement of the way the systems communicated with each other.

    The question is whether or not you would consider having the site shut down for not just several days, but it could take weeks or even months to resolve the logistical problem between the two databases.

    To me that would be unacceptable, and to simply call the requirement (due to some internal logistical problem) unacceptable is no more than a willingness to accept what is.

    We don't know what this new requirement comes up, but the engineers may be facing the same kind of dilemma as they did when the two systems were "joined at the hip."
  • (some HTML allowed)
    How does this make you feel?
    Add Image
    I'm

    e.g. sad, anxious, confused, frustrated happy, confident, thankful, excited kidding, amused, unsure, silly indifferent, undecided, unconcerned

  • All

    The ONLY reason that I would accept a requirement for a "Switch", is the "Surviving" individual/person WAS, in fact, a Member of the Church; and, the "Surviving" individual/person (that required switching) was that that of the official individual/person from Church Membership Records.

    For example, the official "Me" from Church Membership Records SHOULD be the "Surviving" individual/person; whereby, the other six (KNOWN) "Duplicates" of me are subordinate to the official "Me"; and, as such, they would become the "Deleted" or "Archived" individuals/persons.

    Brett
    • view 9 more comments
    • As Adrian pointed out: "no single root cause then, but umpteen possible capacity issues might cause it. In which case it sounds like FSFT can't be any more specific with the error message."
    • Brett - it's not just the users who can't fix it, there is no reason to assume that Support could fix it either. You cannot, as they say, get a quart into a pint pot. In this instance, it seems to me that no one knows that it's a pint pot until the pouring attempt takes place. Fortunately, in this instance the measurements take place before the overflow. I strongly suspect as well that what fits today might not fit tomorrow and vice versa.

      As for retaining one particular PID for "you", firstly the rare incidence of this message suggests it is unlikely to be an issue. But if it does happen then Support might be able to fix it by removing data and relationships from the profile with that PID so that it fits in the pint pot. Somehow I doubt that this would be acceptable to you. Justifiably so.

      No, all the stuff that I'm reading suggests that this error condition is triggered as a last resort, one which it would be grossly negligent to ignore. I've written code like it myself. You test for all the known errors and respond to the user to allow them to fix it. But you also have to cater for the unknown unknowns.
  • (some HTML allowed)
    How does this make you feel?
    Add Image
    I'm

    e.g. sad, anxious, confused, frustrated happy, confident, thankful, excited kidding, amused, unsure, silly indifferent, undecided, unconcerned

  • I think I found out what is going on with this particular issue.

    Today, I was capturing Illinois death certificates at the FHC when I ran into a situation where both husband and wife had duplicates. What was strange was that the duplicates had the husband as a female and the wife as a male (she was in the husband position).

    So, after trying to merge the records (which it would not let me do), I gave up, finished the shift at the FHC and came home. Then I decided to split apart the incorrect sex duplicates, so I could correct the sex. Then I could merge the resulting duplicates with the records.

    What happened is that the system wanted me to reverse the two (added: male duplicates) during the merge. I had previously intended to merge toward the correctly marked record and leave the corrected record as a merge-deleted record. The ordinances were all correct in the to be surviving record. (Added: Now that I've looked over the records, I believe that I was actually merging toward the record in which I had changed the sex.)

    Since I had to switch the two records, the system now has the surviving record flagged with the "This person's ordinance status is not available. Please contact FamilySearch Support if you are a relative and need more information." message. I'm going to wait until next week before I send in a request to get the problem resolved.

    By the way, the male used a girl's spelling all his life and it was even recorded that way on his death certificate. He spelled his name as Carol. It is spelled that way on the 1900 U.S. Census Enumeration. But in several places, it is spelled Carl.

    What surprised me was that when I went to clean up his wife's record and get her sex correct in the duplicate, I could not find the incorrectly marked duplicate. Now I wish I had captured all the screens, so that engineering could take a look.

    All of the records date back to 2012, so this is something that existed from nFS days.

    (I found the wife by going to the merge deleted record for the husband and using its change log. When I corrected the sex for the woman and merged the two, there was no complaint from the system. In looking at the records, I must have set up the merge for the husband with the record that I corrected as the surviving record.) Now all of the wife's ordinances are marked with the same message as the husband.

    I'm thinking it may be more than a sex issue, but one involving the fact that the to be surviving record had the sex changed and also was not married after I split the couple apart to fix the sex. And/Or the issue involved ordinance data.

    We really need FS personnel to verify the why, but I suspect it has to do with incorrect sex and/or marriage status for the surviving record. Behind the scenes, it may also be how the ordinance data will be impacted.
  • (some HTML allowed)
    How does this make you feel?
    Add Image
    I'm

    e.g. sad, anxious, confused, frustrated happy, confident, thankful, excited kidding, amused, unsure, silly indifferent, undecided, unconcerned

  • 1
    Tom, your wish is my command...

    (waving my magic wand...)

    try beta.familysearch.org

    (you're welcome!) :-)

    I forget about it at times, but this gives you a "backwards looking window" at times that are VERY convenient to use for troubleshooting.
  • (some HTML allowed)
    How does this make you feel?
    Add Image
    I'm

    e.g. sad, anxious, confused, frustrated happy, confident, thankful, excited kidding, amused, unsure, silly indifferent, undecided, unconcerned

  • I'm looking forward to encountering the general issue again myself! I say "again" because the message is nothing new - albeit I have not seen it for a very long time and the reason it is appearing now is possibly different from when I was having it appear. I believe my experience related to records of individuals born around 1500 and wonder if there was any connection to the fact that some of these records (either of the individuals themselves, or more probably their relatives) were locked.

    I can only agree that the current issue must be related to ordinances, rather than the amount of detail (sources, relationships, etc.) on one side. I try to always put the individual with the most information on the left hand side during a merge, but have never had any problems when I have merged "the other way round".
    • view 3 more comments
    • It is my understanding that any locked profile cannot be merged in either direction. FS personnel will need to verify my understanding.
    • You must surely be right, Tom.

      I think Doug might also be correct. If Profile-A is not locked but has a relationship of some sort with a locked profile, then maybe Profile-A cannot be merge-deleted because that would require an amendment to the data on the locked profile to change the "pointers". Whereas if Profile-A is the survivor of the merge (on the left in a browser) then no amendments to the locked profile are necessary because the "pointers" don't change. Maybe!!!

      That would fit the text of the error message. Maybe!!

      But that still leaves the possibility that there are other files outside FS FamilyTree that (e.g.) contain PIDs that cannot be updated because of a merge in FS FamilyTree, requiring the merge to be a certain way round in order to make that PID survive. Maybe!!
  • (some HTML allowed)
    How does this make you feel?
    Add Image
    I'm

    e.g. sad, anxious, confused, frustrated happy, confident, thankful, excited kidding, amused, unsure, silly indifferent, undecided, unconcerned

  • This process has been in place since the cutover to FamilyTree form nFS. There have been refinements to the algorithm so that errors in performing the Merge are now much less common. 

    There is no one root cause as it is an aggregation of many different database (db) fields and db relationships to other data that causes the software to tell you to switch. If it didn't the Merge would likely fail (like out-of-bounds, stack overflow) because it would exceed the capacity of db memory. (remember IOUS from nFS). So rather than fail it tells you what you need to do to accomplish the Merge.  It doesn't matter if it's a member, what sex,  locked PID, ... on which person is the survivor.

    All software/hardware impose constraints - like with only 16 bits you can't represent 64k unique values. Also realize that this is built on a db that is more of a NoSQL design (Cassandra for you techies) and the objects defined have a journal from which the current object is constructed. It's like a change log. That journal may also come into play in which PID needs to be the survivor to move on.

    No merge is allowed which would affect a locked PID, including their relationships.

    You can't predict which PID should be the survivor, nor should the user need to. The software will tell you if it runs into that constraint. So if you want to do the Merge where a switch is required, switch it. Otherwise you can't do the Merge.
  • (some HTML allowed)
    How does this make you feel?
    Add Image
    I'm

    e.g. sad, anxious, confused, frustrated happy, confident, thankful, excited kidding, amused, unsure, silly indifferent, undecided, unconcerned

  • (some HTML allowed)
    How does this make you feel?
    Add Image
    I'm

    e.g. sad, anxious, confused, frustrated happy, confident, thankful, excited kidding, amused, unsure, silly indifferent, undecided, unconcerned