On Civi 4.7.22 and Wordpress 4.8.22

Here is the Scenario: Jane Doe uses her email address to signup her son Joe Doe at 123 Red Road Then Jane at 321 Blue St. decides to become a member herself, using the same email address she used to signup her son.

Instead of creating separate accounts for Jane and Joe, Jane's information overwrites Joe's information and suddenly Joe doesn't exist to us anymore. What rules do I need to change to allow the same email address to be applied to different members?

I checked the box in the profile settings to allow duplicate contact to be created. That did not make any difference. Even when I check "Issue warning and do not save" it still goes through and overwrites the information of the first person.

This is a scenario that happens often in our organization, so I hope there is a solution to this.

1 Answer 1


You will want to adjust your Deduping and Merging settings (top menu > Contacts > Find and Merge Duplicate Contacts). See https://docs.civicrm.org/user/en/latest/common-workflows/deduping-and-merging/ for info.

If you're using the default rule that comes when Civi is installed, any contact with the same email will get merged automatically as you're experiencing. It wasn't good for us either because we have so many families and couples who share email addresses.

You will want to 'soften' your Unsupervised rule (the above link has instructions on how to adjust the rules). We changed our Unsupervised rule to take names and birth dates into consideration as well (see image below). We do get the occasional duplicate contact (Robert Smith with [email protected] is technically not a duplicate of Bob Smith with [email protected] according to our rule), but we'd much rather have easy merges to do than the much more difficult task of 'un-merging' two contacts.

Our unsupervised rule

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    Yes, sorry for the confusion, you'll need to edit the current "Email" rule and change it to General. Then you can create a new rule and mark it Unsupervised. My screen shot is of our Unsupervised Individual rule. Commented Sep 30, 2017 at 22:20
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    The numbers in the weight column are a bit artificial. They have meaning you give them. We could make the weight of First and Last Name 1 each, and birthdate and email 2 and then a threshold of 4 and it would all work the same. What we are saying with our rule is that a matching email and both first and last names will trigger a duplicate. An email and only a last name will not (thus allowing parents and children to have the same email and be different contacts). Commented Sep 30, 2017 at 22:22
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    For your example, if FN=10, LN=10, and email=5 with a threshold of 20, you would only ever reach the threshold if the names matched; email would be irrelevant. If the threshold were 15, email and one of the names would trigger a duplicate, thus a child and a parent would be considered the same person if they shared a last name. Commented Sep 30, 2017 at 22:29
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    Thank you. I just set it as you suggested and ran tests on every possible scenario I can think of. It is working perfectly. I appreciate your help. This issue has been solved.
    – fdarn
    Commented Sep 30, 2017 at 23:04
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    Excellent, glad it's working for you! Commented Sep 30, 2017 at 23:08

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