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The merge user interface was updated a while back according to Shog9 when this happened it broke the ability for Mods to request on the behalf of the user.

Can we get that back?

It's difficult for me to get new users to request it on their own. I don't know if it's because they're lazy or just don't understand how to do it. It makes cleaning up questions like this super easy if I can merge the users. Another example here where I just couldn't get the user to do it, although I did approve an edit on his question.

I like the new interface and the ability for users to do it themselves but it would be helpful if I could do it for them in some cases.

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    Do you have any suggestions on how to solve the issues that lead to the removal of the merge ability? There are a few ways that merging can compromise the privacy and security of user accounts. – Mad Scientist Mar 14 '15 at 15:45
  • @MadScientist wasn't aware of what the issues are/were? – Move More Comments Link To Top Mar 14 '15 at 16:00
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Thinking about this as I toil away in minutia on a Saturday night (where thinking about more interesting things is a very welcome thing ..)

Given that:

  • Merges can be self-service now, and account recovery is getting better
  • We have various ways of getting a user's attention with something to click on (inbox)

It might make sense for mods to be able to initiate something that pokes the user to initiate the merge themselves. The reason we made the feature employee only was suspected socks being merged, and as it turned out, they really were different people.

The chief use case is you finding someone disenfranchised from their contributions and continuing to make cookie-based accounts. Well, what if you could click a button that sends them to the tools they need to fix it themselves? Folks in this use case might not even know what 'merge' means as far as their account goes, much less how to do it, or even that they need it.

E.g.:

A site moderator noticed that you seem to be having trouble accessing your account, and inadvertently created another account in the process. To merge them, [link]start here[/link].

Depending on when either account was last accessed, they could get this notification on both of them. It would of course have to fall through (politely) to contacting us if something went wrong with the process or it couldn't be initiated self-service for various reasons. That wouldn't be too hard to do.

I have to think about it some more, and work on login / recovery and everything surrounding it has to settle, but that might not be a horrible idea, and certainly cleaner than even the old way we had for you to request it on the user's behalf.

Deferring until some more stuff gets done. Poke me in comments if more than a month or two passes.

  • Any progress? Got a couple of users that need to be merged over on money. – Ganesh Sittampalam Jun 8 '15 at 16:16
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    Poking you in comments. – ArtOfCode Jan 31 '16 at 12:33
  • Any progress now? – Adamant May 20 '17 at 3:16
  • Looks like the introduction of DAG team triggered wave of new status-deferred questions, I just hope it also mean we'll get some update here. /cc @Adamant – ShaWiz Jul 7 '17 at 19:50
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One of the major reasons why the ability to merge users was restricted to employees is that a bad merge has rather severe consequences. A bad merge where the two users aren't actually the same person means that a stranger just got access to all your private information in your profile and has full control over your SE account. This is a kind of mistake that simply shouldn't happen at all, and as long as the person performing the merge is careful and knows the dangers, it is pretty easy to avoid bad merges.

The big issue is that it is very hard to educate all 300+ moderators about the subtle details of a procedure they only rarely need to perform. At some point the rules for dealing with socks changed from merging to deleting. Even months later moderators were still merging suspected sock puppets. It is far easier to train a handful of SE employees than the hundreds of moderators.

There is probably a place for a restricted merge tool for unregistered users that share enough identifying information that they can be safely merged. But the general purpose merge tool is simply too dangerous and needs too much knowledge about the potential problems to be safely used by moderators from the community.

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    Then maybe a way of queuing it up for the employee's. We do the legwork and they have to approve it. The old system using the contact us link did work that way from my understanding. A real human looked and approved the merge. But they (I think) changed it to a completely automated system and when they did that they broke the ability for the mod to request the merge. I don't care if an employee has to approve it, I just need a way to initiate it for a user. – Move More Comments Link To Top Mar 14 '15 at 16:40

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