I'm working on a website to help animal rescue organizations keep track of their adoptable animals.

As part of the sign up process, a user can create a rescue organization. Assuming the organization doesn't already exist, that user becomes the owner and can invite others to join it. Alternatively, if the user knows that the organization exists and wants to join it, I can present them with a search interface to find and join the organization.

I'd like to put some measures in place during the organization creation process to alert people to possible duplicates, somewhat similar to how StackExchange presents you with similar questions.

Is it bad form to block the user from creating a record if you suspect it's a duplicate? I would likely have to consider more than just the name; e.g. no reason two animal rescue organizations with the same or similar names can't exist in different states or countries.

One idea I have is to make the results interactive by allowing the user to easily join a rescue organization from the results place.

Appreciate any thoughts.

Thank you

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What I understand is when the user clicks the Create button, something will pop up saying that a group by the name (Rescue Name) already exists. When you pop up this modal, have two buttons on the popup:

  1. Join - When they click Join, popup a confirmation dialog and explain to them that joining will cancel creation. The confirmation dialog should say something like "Joining will automatically cancel creating your group. Are you sure you would like to proceed?" Then have Yes and No buttons. Yes will automatically close the "alert duplicate" window, the confirmation to join dialog itself, and the create form.
  2. Rename - You don't want them to "create the duplicate record" anyway, so bring them back to the create form. From there, they can either rename their group or cancel creation altogether.

I've worked with medical software before, and the duplicate patient name dialog comes up every now and then to ensure that the new patient I want to enter is not already existing (because they may differ by date of birth). It's a helpful feature to have. It doesn't get in the way of creating a record.


If the name of the rescue organization is supposed to be the unique identifier, its not a bad thing to not allow duplicates. Consider the downstream frustration when users are trying to join a specific organization and there are multiples to choose from. You should take measures to provide feedback though - like an in-line notification explaining notifying the user that this name already exists (then perhaps provide the opportunity to go down the "join existing org." path).

  • I'm thinking that name and some combination of location is what ends up being a unique identifier. From what I've seen, it's possible for small rescue organizations in different locations to have the same or close name. Thank you! Mar 2 '14 at 14:17

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