We have a legacy SP2010 farm (originally migrated from SP2007) that long ago had two metadata columns added to the base document type. We wish to remove them because they cause "duplicate field" errors when importing sites that have them. We have a workaround by deleting the columns before exporting but that's a temporary measure at best and we'd like to get rid of the core of the problem before a migration to SP2013.

The alteration was made back when it was a SP2007 farm by an external contractor and no documentation has survived on how they added the columns and at what level.

What we do know is any site that is created on the farm will have those columns in the base document content type. No solution or feature provided by that contractor is currently installed on the farm, so whatever they did was not retracted or was not added via a custom feature in the first place.

So my question is, where do we look for possible alterations that'd affect the whole farm? My guesses were \TEMPLATE\GLOBAL\XML\ONET.XML and the individual ONET.XML within each site template, with no success. Where are the base content types defined, is there a feature that contains them? One of our sysops suggests it could have been done via changes to the database itself, which should not be done but such database changes seem to have actually been done by the contractor in the past. If it were done in such a way, how could we check it?

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It turns out the answer is quite simply the content type hub, which allows one specific collection to be associated with a managed metadata service and push its own content type customizations to all web applications that are connected to the service, providing a simple and effective way to harmonize content types across collections and webapps.

It's worth mentioning our specific content type hub in this case is broken (the hub itself acts like its content types have been published and all subscriber collections act as if the content types have been unpublished), probably by a past migration or move, which may explain why all imports using subscribed content types are broken as well, but it'll take some time until proper tests are conducted on the production farm.

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