Following from this topic, I'd like to posit a few hypotheticals about duplicate questions, and ask what we should do in each case:

Hypothetical #1: The situation described in the title. A question is a duplicate, but for one reason or another, it's clearly better than its antecedent question. What do we do? Is this cause for "disciplined deletion," or is there another solution?

Hypothetical #2 (This comes up very often, so let's call it not-so-hypothetical): A question is asked that duplicates an earlier question, but with a different focus. For example, it focuses on a subcategory of the original question, or draws attention to a particular detail or example rather than the general case. A great example of what I mean is this question, which was closed for being a duplicate of this question. Also consider the relationship between this or this question and this question; similarly this and this.

Hypothetical #3: Same as #2, except the new question brings an example that, while technically included in the scope of the old question, would never be considered if the new question did not specifically bring it. A good illustration of what I mean is this question with respect to this question.

Hypothetical #4: This is a trouble I've been having with a recent question of mine, so it's not so hypothetical up to a point.

I posted a duplicate. The original question was in fact asking the same thing as mine, but every responder misunderstood it and answered a similar, but slightly different question. (They answered about "translations" rather than "transliterations.") The question about transliterations remains unanswered.

When my question was identified as a duplicate, I got a message saying this: "This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please edit this question to explain how it is different or ask a new question." The trouble with that in my case was that neither of those two options could be used to get a better answer; nevertheless, I attempted to do the first.

I suspect that in fact the proper thing to do would be to set a bounty or otherwise try to attract attention (and correction) to the old question. But what if--hypothetically now-- that wasn't happening? What if an answer had already been approved to the original question--even if it didn't really address the important part--rendering the question far less likely to get new answers in the future? What would be the proper thing to do?

Thanks for your feedback.

  • I'm asking about all of these hypotheticals from the point of view of moderation...as well as whether we're allowed to post such duplicates in the first place. – anon Sep 5 '14 at 15:29
  • "What if an answer had already been approved to the original question" An answer being accepted is not important nor does it indicate which answer is best so I don't see why that would be relevant. – Double AA Sep 5 '14 at 15:29
  • /My/ point is that the question is far less likely to get new answers once an answer has been accepted. – anon Sep 5 '14 at 15:30
  • I disagree. I have never TTBOMK considered whether there was an accepted answer before posting my own if I had something to contribute. – Double AA Sep 5 '14 at 15:31
  • @DoubleAA Oh, good! I'm glad people have that attitude. Just wondering, can you also set a bounty on a question that has an accepted answer? – anon Sep 5 '14 at 15:32
  • Certainly. One of the possible uses of a bounty is to award an existing answer. – Double AA Sep 5 '14 at 15:35
  • 2
    I think you might be better off splitting this post into two or three or four posts, for each case. – Double AA Sep 5 '14 at 15:36
  • @DoubleAA :) LOL – anon Sep 5 '14 at 16:16
  • Many people do not consider an accepted answer to be a barrier to adding an answer. But questions with accepted answers are probably a little less likely to get new answers, if nothing else because they don't show up in the "unanswered" list. This probably matters on some sites more than others; here on Mi Yodeya my (anecdotal) impression is that it doesn't get in the way much. But over on SO, where they're swimming in questions and nobody could possibly keep up, I'd bet that that green indicator on the main page causes people not to click through. – Monica Cellio Sep 5 '14 at 16:16

In hypothetical #1, we have in the past sometimes closed the earlier, worse-asked question, if it was objectively badly asked. (By "objectively" I mean only "even without comparing it to the newer question".) I think that's a reasonable thing to do.

Just my opinion. I'm posting answers to your various hypotheticals separately so people can vote on them severally.


In hypotheticals #2 and #3, I think we should close the later, more specific question if (a) it is a poorly asked/worded question (so people are more likely to read and answer it at the earlier question) or (b) it (the specific question) is already addressed in an answer at the earlier question (so leave a signpost instead of making people read the same answers in two places).

Just my opinion. I'm posting answers to your various hypotheticals separately so people can vote on them severally.


In hypothetical #4, well, that doesn't come up very often, I don't think, so maybe I should just address the specific case. (I'm also retagging this Meta question with the "specific-question" tag, since it's partially about a specific question.) In my opinion, in this case, we should edit the old question so it's about translations (which would I think make it not quite a duplicate of another question) and reopen the transliterations question.

Just my opinion. I'm posting answers to your various hypotheticals separately so people can vote on them severally.

You must log in to answer this question.