Merging Citations - Caution!

My experience with the “Merge All Duplicate Citations” command was a little distressing. I executed the command from the Source page and went from 16291 citations down to 2325. I checked around a bit and discovered one citation that went from 1 Media tag to 92 Media tags! This, as you can imagine, this made the Media tags as well as this Citation pretty much useless.

I immediately restored from a recent backup - so no harm done.

So my conclusion is: the “Merge All Duplicate Citations” command does NOT consider Media tags as a criteria e.g. if 92 Citations are identical but have different Media tags, they will be merged into a SINGLE citation with 92 Media tags. Beware!

This may be the intended effect but 1.) users should be very aware of this behavior and 2.) it would be great if there were some options to the “Merge All” command.

I just noticed that some of my citations now have multiple erroneous tags. I wondered what had caused it. I think I have some cleaning up to do!!

Be careful. If the citation is used multiple times then those “erroneous” tags could belong to them.

I think I agree that the automatic merge should take media tags into account. And if a particular set of otherwise identical citations needed to be merged anyway despite different media tags, they could be merged with a manual merge.

But that being said, I have a hard time understanding situations where otherwise identical citations shouldn’t have the same media file. For example, if you cited page 23, page 42, and page 97 from the same book, you normally would have a source for the book plus three citations with one for each of the three separate pages. Each citation would have a media tag for its respective page. Or if you cited death certificate #1234, death certificate #7654, and death certificate #9876 from the same death certificate collection, you normally would have a source for the death certificate collection plus three citations with one for each of the three separate death certificates. Each citation would have a media tag for its respective death certificate.

Jerry, I suspect that I Treeshared in these citations from Ancestry. Treeshare just brought in the citation and hung a unique media on each instance.

Aha! Sources and media from TreeShare. That situation has come up before.

Ancestry and RM handle sources very differently from each other. When TreeShare transfers sources in either direction, it has a hard time converting the one way of doing sources to the other.

I normally only use TreeShare to transfer data from RM to Ancestry and it’s been a long time since I have tried transferring in the other direction. So I don’t remember the exact details of what Ancestry’s sources look like after TreeShare transfers them to RM. But I do see how having sources transferred into RM via TreeShare could raise havoc with RM’s Merge Citations process. I’ll play with it a little bit, or maybe other TreeShare users who do regularly use TreeShare to transfer Ancestry data to RM could comment.

Well, I just did a brief test. It looks for the purpose of my test that the sources I created in a test tree in Ancestry were transferred to RM8 in a totally reasonable manner such that each separate media file had one separate citation name. So I cannot recreate your scenario.

I was testing with a death certificate and with census records for two different census years. Could you give an example of the source name and citation name for one of your cases where two identical citations had different media files and that therefore should not be merged? And what did the media files contain?

Fair enough. For me, one problem source on Ancestry was “New York State, Marriage Index, 1881-1967”. I cited it twice for Aunt Helen’s two marriages. On Ancestry, it correctly showed different names and dates in the citation fields. But on my RM8, the citations are virtually identical - no Ancestry citation data fields were ported down to my RM. No names or dates. OTOH the media are indeed correct and different. So, I have two identical citations for Aunt Helen’s two different marriages.

Thinking more about it, I wonder if the problem is Treeshare or the RM7 to RM8 importation process?

My more or less equivalent citations were different on the RM side of the house so I didn’t run into the same citation merger problem that you did. I’ll try a different example using a marriage index of some sort. In fact, I may even try the New York State, Marriage Index, 1881-1967. For the purposes of this test, I don’t need to know who the people really were.

Thanks for the help. For the record, I Treeshared these sources and citations down to my RM7 a couple of years ago. Then I imported my RM7 database file to RM8 in October, I think. That’s what makes me wonder if the RM7 to RM8 import dropped the citation fields. (I can’t easily access my old RM7 at this point).

Also, as I mentioned, I went from 16k citations down to 2.3k when I merged. So this is a huge effect (for me at least).

I may try some experiments myself, tomorrow.

I created a very small Ancestry tree that used the New York State, Marriage Index, 1881-1967 as a source for two different couples. I then used TreeShare to download the tree to RM8. I need to acknowledge this isn’t the way I normally do my sources, so I may not be understanding exactly what’s going on. But here is what it appears to me.

I had two different couples with two different images. But the Source Name and Citation Name and full footnote sentence was identical in RM8 for both couples, even though the image that was tagged to the citation was different and correct for each couple. The problem was that the citation didn’t have a different page number or anything different else in the citation that would identify the fact that the citations were for different pages, even though the image was different.

I then looked at the same information online in the little Ancestry tree that I had just made. It was exactly the same situation. The images for the two couple were different and correct for each couple, but the source name and citation name were the same in Ancestry as TreeShare had stored in RM8. So TreeShare and RM8 were not doing anything wrong, but the way Ancestry is handling this particular marriage index makes for a very poor automatic footnote sentence.

My previous test with census records and TreeShare was very different and more successful. The citation in Ancestry and hence the footnote sentence was specific to the exact state, county, year, and page number associated with the image. So two different images from the same collection of census images had different citations. My conclusion is that this particular marriage index is being handled very poorly by Ancestry and in a certain sense there is nothing that RM8 can do about it.

Well, RM8 could include the image in the comparison of duplicate citations when doing the automatic merge. That would solve your immediate problem and make RM8 work like RM7 for these particular citations. But that still leaves you with the footnote sentence for couple A being exactly the same as the footnote sentence for couple B, even though the actual pages were totally different. If you downloaded your Ancestry tree via GEDCOM to some genealogy software other than RM, you would have the same problem of footnote sentences for different images looking the same. And even in RM7, the citations can’t be merged but you really have the same problem of footnote sentences for different images looking the same.

In summary, RM8 really must look at image files tagged to citations when merging citations. But there is nothing RM can do about the inadequate way Ancestry is generating sources and citations for this particular set of images.

Thank you very much Jerry. You have duplicated the problem exactly. I will poke around my database and see if there are other sources that show the same behavior-I suspect there are due to the huge reduction in citations I experienced after my merge.

I agree that the best option at this point is to lobby RM for a media tag option on the Merge All Citations command.

Thanks again and best regards.

I have examined many of my sources:

  1. Open the Source tab and select a source with multiple citations.
  2. Click the arrow on the Citations column to reveal the Citations window. It will list all the citations for that source by name (if they have one) on the left pane.
  3. I find I have dozens, if not hundreds, of either unnamed citations (blank name) or citations with identical names.
  4. In the Edit Citation panel to the right under Citation Details, I find the Citation Name and Details fields to be identical or blank. And the Footnotes are identical, of course.
  5. However, clicking on Media or Citation Used in this pane reveals differences.

Setting aside how my file got this way, most urgent is understanding the Merge All Duplicate Citations command. Apparently, only the Source fields, Citation Name and Details fields are compared. The Media tag field is obviously not considered. I wonder if any fields under the Citation Detail, text, media, etc. section are considered? In short, what, exactly, is a Duplicate Citation?

Short of some really extensive testing by users to reverse engineer the answer to this question, the only authoritative answer would need to come from the RM developers.

Agree completely. Any idea how to request this information and ask that a new feature be added?

By default, the citation details fields go into the citation name, so if you make use of them, then there will be a citation name. In my case, my blank citation names are a result of my perhaps simplistic use of free-form sources. When I started moving to template sources, RM7 created sensible and in my case unique citation names, though I was careful to ensure that the modified templates I have started to use do generate what are, to me, sensible citation names. This change in how I documented sources was all triggered when I saw how RM8 exposed the citation names and realised how one might want to use them, particularly on sources that would be likely to have many different citations - I’m moving in the direction of being a source lumper.

RM8 is very unfriendly to source splitters and is somewhat more friendly to source lumpers. Despite that, I have made a provisional decision to remain as a source splitter.

I have identified two problems that prevent me from being a source lumper in RM8, even though that would probably be my preference. One problem is that the list of citations in the right hand panel of the Edit Person screen only lists source names and not citation names. The list of citations really needs to list both the source name and the citation name. The Slide In Workflow lists both the source name and citation name, which is one advantage of using the Slide In Workflow. But the Slide In Workflow has both advantages and disadvantages, and I feel like becoming a source lumper would force me to use it despite it having some disadvantages.

The other problem is similar. When any media list shows where a media file is used, it only shows the source name for media tagged to citations and it needs to show both the source name and the citation name for media tagged to citations.

Until and unless both of these problems are resolved, I think I need to remain an source splitter in RM8. That’s despite the fact that RM8 is really designed for source lumpers and RM8 makes it hard to be a source splitter. In other words, those two problems are really big problems for a source lumper in RM8.


We need to be pressing for both these areas/problems - of only listing the source rather than both the source and the citation - to be fixed/corrected. I’ll try to raise via support.

I suspect I’ve not suffered from the first problem because I’ve been using the slide-in workflow option - and I haven’t really suffered from the second because I don’t really have any images attached - BUT I will be moving onto that in a big way, so I assume I will soon see the need.

We need to keep chipping away at getting what appear simple enhancements where we can clearly articulate what we think is lacking. At some stage RM will start to become more stable, certainly needed by some, and better performing, again needed by some, including myself (where the Mac version is incredibly CPU hungry in some if not all areas), and they may then have time to move on from just fire-fighting.

RM8 also does not look at the Web tags when doing a merge.

I discovered this after many citations that I created were merged, the only difference among them was the web tag.
I luckily had a backup that I was able to “undo” to.
The fix was easy, I just made the citations that I didn’t want merged unique then redid the merge all citations.

Me too! After two days just trying to figure out what happened I finally downloaded my backup file. Lost two days of work but the backup worked so another learning experience. Really RM8 is rather tough for the non techie. I wish I could figure out half of what guys were talking about I keep on ‘truckin’ and backup every and I mean every day.