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Improved handling when entering individuals with the same name!

Posted by Sean Daly on Jun 23, 2022

We’ve all been there: a son is named after a father; granddaughters are named after their grandmother; a child is named after an earlier sibling who died young. When you enter someone with the same name as someone else in your tree, what happens next?

The Geneanet developers have improved the message shown to you when you create a person with the same name as someone in your tree. Namesake? Homonym? Cognomen? People — and systems — need to be able to tell others with the same name apart.

Previously, a rather severe error message may have made you feel a forbear made a mistake naming a son after a father, or granddaughters after a grandmother! Now, the system just tells you, “There’s already an individual with this name in your family tree”:

If you are sure the new person is not the one listed, go right ahead and click on “New individual”. If, on the other hand, you realize that the person exists in your tree already, you can either 1) cancel the update by pressing the Escape button on your keyboard or by clicking on the X in the upper right corner of the window, or 2) link to the existing individual. Why would you want this latter option? Perhaps you have just entered other data about the person – an exact birthdate or a note – and you are not sure if the existing person has that data entered. The system will allow you to merge the data in most cases, choosing in case of a conflict (e.g., an estimated birth year in one and an exact birth date in the other). Note however, in some situations, a merge may not be possible; no worries, just cancel the update and edit the existing person.

Do you have suggestions for other improvements to the Geneanet site? Visit our forums or leave a comment below, we are listening!


This is cumbersome, and a result of improper database design with ambiguous record references. You should assign a Primary Key to each individual and other record entries. E.g. the GEDCOM “INDI” code.

Answer from Geneanet: Thanks for your feedback! Geneanet uses the open source GeneWeb platform and individuals with the same name are tagged with an occurrence number (period followed by a positive integer); there is no ambiguity. GEDCOM is a data transfer format, not an internal database structure. Geneanet can export to GEDCOM v5 in UTF-8 and plain ASCII, and when it does, unique INDI identifiers are associated with every person, including those with exactly the same names. Geneweb uses its own gwplus format for backup and data transfer, which is less ambiguous than GEDCOM; occurrence numbers are used in that format. What has changed is our message when a member tries to create a person whose name is already in the tree. Only the member can decide if he or she is referring to a person already in the tree, or a different person!

Thank You; wish Ancestry did likewise.

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