Benefit of Merging Citations

I’m in RM9 trying to deal with sources. I am not “using” RM9 except for cleaning up my sources. I have a source “1850 Federal Census.” There are 1,318 citations under that source. I’m happy to leave the duplicates (and there are many) as is, but am wondering if merging them would be beneficial when uploading the file to websites or sharing, creating a gedcom, or just going back and forth between RM7 and RM9. What say you?

What would those web sites be? What is your main program?

I’m using Gramps as my main program, and RM 9 to exchange data with Ancestry and FamilySearch, and see hints from My Heritage.

And at the GEDCOM level, there is no need to merge citations, because at that level, they’re not independent objects, so they will always show up as substructures of the objects that reference the source.

Any merged citations will effectively be unmerged when uploading the file to websites or sharing. So in that respect, you can merge or not without seeing any difference.

Here are the advantages and disadvantages I see in merging and not merging.

  • Without merging, duplicate endnotes cannot be combined in reports. With merging, duplicate citations can be combined in reports. Combining duplicate endnotes can save a huge amount of paper for reports that are printed.

  • Without merging, changing one duplicate citation will not change other duplicate but unmerged citations. With merging, changing a merged citation that is now used multiple times will change the citation for all uses. Because such changes are often corrections, the ability to make such corrections only one time was one driving force behind adding the reusability feature for citations.

  • RM’s automatic merge feature for citations does not take differences in media files and WebTags into account. Sometimes citations that are different that are downloaded from Ancestry via TreeShare differ only by being different in their media files or in their WebTags. That can cause citations that are downloaded from Ancestry to be merged even if they are different and shouldn’t be merged. So be cautious about this if you download citations from Ancestry to RM using TreeShare.

It sounds to me for your use case that merging citations could reduce the number of citations you would have to clean up. I don’t know what your situation is with respect to citations that differ only by having different media files or different WebTags.

I use RM7 as my main program and use RM9 only to deal with sources and citations. I started genealogy eons ago with Family Origins and I really didn’t do my sources and citations justice way back then. So I am now trying to clean those up. There are no media files or web tags involved. I don’t use TreeShare or upload my data file to FS or Ancestry. I did that once and ended up with every single source prefaced with “Ancestry, Inc.” after the download. I have tree files on Ancestry but I don’t attach web tags as sources/citations in my trees. I prefer to create my own that don’t go away if I don’t have a subscription. All I want to do is clean up the sources in RM9 to return the file to RM7. But instead of cleaning up 25 of the same citation, I can do one and merge the rest. Are you saying that if I merge those 25 citations and then upload it to a website, all of them will be unmerged? and if I or someone downloads the file as a gedcom or via TreeShare? I would end up with a gazillion citations again and all that work would be for naught. UGH!

I apologize for lack of clarity. Unmerging them in this manner is not a bad thing and cannot be avoided.

For example, RM7 does not support merged citations and GEDCOM does not support merged citations. So suppose you wanted to export GEDCOM from RM9 and import it into RM7. And supposed you had merged citations in RM9.

Because GEDCOM does not support merged citations, the export from RM9 to GEDCOM would produce unmerged citations. Essentially, there would be duplicated and exactly equal citations in the GEDCOM for any merged citations in RM9. That’s the only thing that can possibly happen. Then when RM7 imported the GEDCOM, the citations would be exactly the kind of unmerged and duplicated citations that RM7 supports. RM7 would have no concept that the citations had originated as merged in RM9.

At the risk over over explaining, let’s go into a little more detail. Suppose you were doing your citation cleanup in RM7. Suppose you had an obituary citation you had entered 1 time and them memorized and pasted 19 times, for a total of 20 copies of that same citation. After the copies are made, there is no way to know which copy is the original and which copies are copies of the original. Then in RM7, you would have to cleanup that same citation 20 different times, not an efficient use of your time.

Suppose you were doing your citation cleanup in RM9 using merged citation. Suppose you merged your duplicate citations in RM9. Then you have would entered your obituary 1 time and used it 20 times. If you cleaned it up, you would only clean it up 1 time and that one cleanup would apply to all 20 uses. That’s a very efficient use of your time.

Now suppose you export from RM9 to GEDCOM. The 1 citation for the obituary would be exported 20 different times in the GEDCOM, one time for every one if its uses. There is no inefficiency of your time because RM is doing all the work. RM has no choice but to make 20 copies of the obituary in GEDCOM because that’s the way GEDCOM works. And even if you could go directly from RM9 to RM7 without using GEDCOM, the direct transfer would have to convert the 1 obituary citation in RM9 into 20 obituary citations in RM7 because that’s the way RM7 works.

The terminology can be a little confusing. Citations in RM9 are reused or they are not reused. Citations are not really “merged”. When you first type them in, you can make citations reused or not. When you import citations (for example directly from RM7 or via GEDCOM), they are not reused. The merging tool is then just a way to convert citations from not reused to being reused after the fact.

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Thank you for further explaining that. Looks like for now, it is more efficient to just revise the citation title, apply it to each duplicate, and leave it at that. I still correct the name (with copy and paste) but take more time to repair the citation.

Now if I have two SOURCES that are NAMED differently but are the same source, and I fix the best one and merge it with the second, is it going to come apart too? What is the best way to deal with this, either in RM7 or RM9? I can change a source name in RM7, but not a citation,because I can’t see the citations except in a persons profile, whereas RM9 shows me all the citations associated with a source (the only thing I like about RM9).

To me, the only reason not to take full advantage of RM9’s reusable citations is the problem with the Merge Citations tool not taking different media files and WebTags into account. I don’t have that issue, so I really like being able to cleanup a citation once instead of needing to clean up duplicate citations multiple times. The fact that RM has not choice but to duplicate the reused citations on export seems to me to be of no consequence.

I have limited experience with that situation, but it seems to work ok provided that the merged sources are using the exact same source template.

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Thank you! I use the Free form source template when I enter a new source. The only reason there would be two names to the same source is if I forgot what I named that source the first time and tried to recreate it. (Sigh)

Thanks again for your help.