apparently "metadata corruption" is the problem here.
discovered after a /lengthy/ number of sessions troubleshooting and then another lengthy session implementing fixes.
i hope it sticks because i don't want to have to proof this 700 + contact database for the umpteenth + 1 time...
regards and thanks
I have no idea what you are talking about.
iCloud is an online database to which you can subscribe devices, the data at www.iCloud.com is what there is, any client that offers different data is (a) not connected to iCloud, or (b) has local data that you are mistakenly including with the iCoud data (usually caused by viewing 'All Contacts' instead of 'iCloud' contacts.
Stop overthinking this and give up on 'metadat' crazinees.
Be logical and troubleshoot your subscriptions to iCloud. ONLY include data from iCloud accounts.