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Merging impediment for deleting relationships

In the last few days I have spend considerable time restoring relationships for four lines in my tree and my husband's tree because of incorrectly completed merges. As more persons are getting interested in Family Search I am seeing this issue much more frequently. One example would be: these inexperienced persons will create a new person only to find they are in the tree already. So a possible duplicate shows up and they go ahead and merge the old record into the newly created record. However when they merge, they do not bring across the parents relationship-- so the parents are deleted from the child. Now that whole branch of the tree is not associated with the child.

Would it be possible to have warnings pop up (like are used when editing relationships) that would say something like: "If you continue with this merge the following relationship(s) will be deleted. Please explain why you think this relationship(s) should be deleted." I know there is a warning at the top of the merge indicating that information on the right hand side of the page will be deleted- but it's "small print". If when they clicked continue, these warnings popped up and they were forced to explain why each relationships was being deleted, they would probably rethink what they are doing. Or hopefully get help from someone who knows how to correctly complete merges.
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  • 7
    This has been an issue "forever". During a merge the best practice is to bring all relationships from the right hand side to the left. I strongly recommend that practice. People get confused when there are duplicates and think they only need one but you really should save both and then merge other duplicates. I believe the only way to prevent the issue is to modify the merge so that all relationships are automatically moved. I do not see why they are optional. It only leads to missing relationships.
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  • 5
    One of the things that Ron Tanner mentioned in one of his recent twice a month Facebook question and answer sessions at
    https://www.facebook.com/familyhistor...
    is that they are considering having all relationships move over automatically, as sources to now, to help with this problem.

    This would help a lot as the same people who are not aware that these relationships should be moved from right to left will likely never notice the option to move them from right to left.

    In any event, the designers are aware of this problem and are working to find ways to make it much harder to accidentally delete relationships in a merge.
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    • Agree with you. Just thought that it would be sensible to record my belief (which appears to be correct from what you say) that it isn't always quite as easy as moving all stuff right to left regardless of data content.
    • If I read this correctly, the relationships will move and be added (if they have different PIDs). That will cause a lot of squawking because then records will have to be merged, but it will also force the patron to pay close attention to what they are doing.
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  • 2
    I've discovered that some people erroneously think when they merge one person, they are merging all of the duplicate family members shown as well. That's part of the problem.

    I think bringing over the relationships is wise, but it will also be confusing for the same people who wouldn't have known to bring them over. I wish there were some way for the interface to guide people in making additional merges needed by the first one. The trouble is, that could be error prone too.

    I don't yet see an easy solution.
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  • I am not always awake enough to do this, but I try to look at each record for information that may be different and add it to the preferred record before I merge. For example, cases where one person's record has a birth date and the other has the birth place. It would be wise to warn people of all these issues when they start a move. They should check for split information, relationships to move, which record has temple ordinances...before they merge. I agree that it would be helpful to automatically bring over the relationships. Among other things, its easy to not finish a whole set of merges and relationships in one sitting. Then its easy to forget to go back and finish merging people in relationships. This way they would all be more visible when you came back.
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  • 3
    I just thought of one more improvement that I wish we could have. I am always confused when the list of changes says a relationship is deleted. I always think "O no. Who deleted the child!" I have learned to remind myself that this probably means there was a merge, but I don't like the way it is described.

    I wish it said who was merged and that the merge kept the basic relationship. Maybe it could say something like A &B were the parents of C. A and L are merged. Now L=A and L and B are married and the parents of C. I might even put all his in one large Change that showed on each person's change log.

    I don't like having to wade through each child's changed relationship on a parent's change log after the parent is merged with a duplicate. So A & B were the parents of C, D, E, F.... Now it says the relationship of A to B was deleted. The relationship of A to C was deleted. The Relationship of A to D was deleted......

    I wish one large Change event said A was merged with L. Therefore now L=A , and L and B are married with children C, D, E, F.... Maybe that would get too complicated if there were multiple merges. Perhaps it could list each merge as 1 large change log and mention that multiple changes were made.

    So if I also had merged B with M it would say B was merged with M. B=M, so now L and M are the parents of C, D, E, F... and have a similar single change for each child. C was merged with O. So C=O, and L and M are the parents of O, D, E, F. I don't know if I would want a big summary of merges at the top and then each of these smaller changes below that. Or maybe first a note that several members of the family were merged and then each merge individually described???
    • this is a good reminder - to change the way we write the reason to merge so that it makes sense in the children change log. I think I will do some closer looking on my next merge to see how it could be better worded so that someone looking at the child change log would immediately know the deletion was because of a parents merge.
    • Relationships can be deleted outside of the merge process. I have done this when someone has incorrectly added parents to an end-of-line ancestor where the parents and other information about them is not known. No merge was involved. The process is simple -- call up the child's details page in the tree. Then in FamilyMembers, under the parents (right) side, click on the little icon next to the child to be removed. Then "remove" the child (third window down in the flyout). If you need this illustrated, let me know and I'll prepare a series of screen shots to show how this is done.

      As gasmodels says below, this does not delete the child's record, only removes the child from the "incorrect" family.
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  • So we are to move all the relationships over and then go to the person page to fix any duplicates and make sure all the information for each has been moved for that relationship. What happens to the poor souls that are not a correct relation, where do they go? Are they deleted or are they in the system to be combined with their rightful related ones or are they gone?
    Yes, if you have a year in a birth field, but not the day or month or place, it is something to add later. Same on the sources, if there is something in that field, the more complete date and place does is not moved over, added but needs to be added after the source has been added when in the person page. You need a good memory or to remember to write it down.
    • during a merge you can choose the "best" birth date or location - which ever left or right is the best it can be moved to the left and becomes the default. In that sense merge is not like source linker where you cannot overwrite. You can during a merge.

      If someone does not belong in a family - say a child - just remove the relationship to the parents and they will not display any more. It does not remove the record from the system but it will remove them from the "incorrect Family"
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  • Sidenote: How about suggesting mergeable parents on the same shot?
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  • 2
    One of the reasons merging is such an utter mess is that there are no tools in place for keeping track of and merging the also-duplicated relatives. Another reason is that the "possible duplicates" list gives laughably little information to go by. When the list of possible duplicates only gives the names, is it any wonder that people do merges based on names alone?

    Adding impediments would neither fix nor prevent bad merges, but it would make the correct ones even harder. They're incredibly tedious and time-consuming already, involving multiple browser tabs, a notepad window or three, and about half an hour of work per profile (or more, if there are complications like second marriages).

    I agree with the comment somewhere above about the change log. The interim steps of a merge look awfully alarming on the relatives' profiles, and they are like bad reason statements: they do not actually identify what happened. Automatically transferring relationships (kind of like how sources are all transferred) would help with this question, because then the relationships wouldn't _be_ deleted, not even temporarily (which is essentially what happens now). Another thing that would help would be some sort of marking system whereby one could flag also-duplicated relatives for subsequent application of the detailed merge process.

    But what the merging process really, really needs is _full_ information to compare: include the reason statements, notes, etc. of the two profiles on the comparison screen. Correct versus incorrect merging comes down to the _data_. If it's not all included on the merge screen, but requires people to hunt through multiple open tabs while trying to keep track of which profile is which, then it's no wonder that they get it wrong. It does no good to have a note about how "this is actually the other XYZ's adopted brother" if that note isn't shown in the side-by-side comparison and is therefore merged away by well-intentioned people who figure a family can't possibly have two adult children by the same name.

    Related to the full information aspect is the fact that the current system handles data in chunks that are much too large. Birthplace and birthdate are separate pieces of information, for example. A merge should not present you with a choice between correct place but incomplete date versus incomplete place but correct date. (And you should be able to enter separate reasons for each, but that's a different topic.)
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