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Sometimes merging with git does bad things.  We've seen this happen in two cases.  What we've seen are the following behaviors:

  • Files that were removed are magically re-added on merge
  • Files that were only changed on the destination branch still have "conflicts"
  • Conflicts that would otherwise be self-resolving are hard conflicts with no content from the contributing branch

How to diagnose if you're in this situation:

  • If you've tried a merge, but it just looks messed up and too complicated.  Bring up Stash/Bitbucket and do the following:
  • Press "Create Pull Request" and enter the source and destination branch.  Click "Continue".  Do not click "Create".  Put that on one screen (or one side of your only screen).
  • Bring up another Stash, do the same thing, but click "Create" this time and put that side-by-side with the other.
  • If you notice a lot of differences between the two, there may be something amiss.

How to perform the merge anyway:

  • We found that we want to get that PR "Preview" merge, and not the "Create" PR results.  So we went around merge.
  • Find the latest SHA (commit) of your donor branch
  • Find the first SHA (commit) of your donor branch (this is typically the first commit or the commit of your last merge from that branch)
  • Set your branch to your donor branch.
  • Run "git diff <first-SHA> <latest-SHA> > ../diff.patch"
  • This is a git patch file containing all of the diffs on the donor branch.
  • Set to the branch to your destination branch and create a branch off of it.
  • Apply the git diff by running "git apply --ignore-space-change --ignore-whitespace -3 ..\diff.patch"
  • This will ignore spaces and whitespace and will perform a 3-way merge of the diffs, leaving your (likely) with conflicted files.
  • Now do your normal method of conflict resolution.
  • When committing, be very clear about what you've done:
    • List all the commits between <first-SHA> and <latest-SHA>
    • List all files that were conflicted that you manually merged, just in case.
  • Push your branch and create a PR against the destination branch.


For an example of a bad git merge that didn't make it into master, see:

And the example of the resolution of the issue was this PR:


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