What does "Overwrite non-blank fields with these values" really mean?

I'm doing an import and want to change existing information with things like phone number and address changes. But I want all my tags to remain and to also add new ones. Should I check "overwrite non-blank fields with these values" with my import?

Official response from

"Overwrite non-blank fields with these values" tells the importer that the data in the file is more current than the data currently in the nation. In most cases, this is exactly what the update should do. New addresses or phone numbers should overwrite the existing data.

In the case of tags, the overwrite non-blank fields processing has changed as of this update. Now, when you map a column in your CSV to the field "tag_list"

  • imported records will get the tags you provide in the tag_list columns plus any tag(s) you assign using the field map screen. 
  • updated records will have the tags you provide in the tag_list columns appended to the existing tags on the person.

If a tag goes on all the records being updated, don't import that tag. Instead, add the tag to the people using the "Add tags to each person" field in the bottom half of the import screen. Tags in this list are automatically added to all records touched during the import.

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  • tagged this with Not helpful 2013-11-07 12:38:29 -0800
  • commented 2013-09-10 09:45:07 -0700 · Flag
    To prevent data loss, tags are not overwritten in the import process, only appended. If you need to remove tags from your database, you can do so in the People > Tags menu in the control panel.
  • commented 2013-07-07 00:09:06 -0700 · Flag
    So am I to understand that the field “tag_list” will overwrite existing tag lists with the new value, but, that tags assigned using the field map screen will be appended to the existing tag list of the NB records without deleting the tags that already exist. Are these two scenarios correct?
  • commented 2013-04-21 22:20:52 -0700 · Flag
    Excellent, thanks
  • commented 2013-03-14 15:18:38 -0700 · Flag
    One word: hallelujah.