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Memory leak in Xcode 4.2 had three answers (2 of those 3 were the correct solution) as of 2 days ago. I came back to it this morning to see if the guy needed any more help or had updated/commented because he had not accepted an answer yet. Then I realized it has been merged with a completely different question (albeit by the same user) that had a similar title and tags: My program has a memory leak.

You can tell which 3 were answers to Memory leak in Xcode 4.2 as they all reference [alert release] (which doesn't even make sense in the context of the merged question). Now the three merged answers look really dumb and any future readers of this post will be pretty confused (the answers will also start to receive unjustified downvotes) because they do not answer the merged question at all.

So, 2 questions:

  1. Should these have been merged just because of the similar titles/tags and same user?
  2. Is there any requirement for the person who is performing the merge to be proficient in the subject matter of the question (if there isn't, should there be)?

I realize that the user (alfred) has asked lots of other duplicate questions (that were correctly merged) since asking the 2 questions I am referring to here, but that shouldn't affect this situation with these 2 specific questions.

# Now that these are starting to generate comments what should be done with the answer (I'll leave a comment on the other 2 so they can do the same)?

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up vote 2 down vote accepted

Due to the apparent lack of interest in this request for support to reverse these negligently merged questions, I've deleted my merged answer to tie up this lose end.

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I can see what Dori was thinking, given the same user and similar terms like "memory leak" here, but these are subtly different questions. The Memory leak in Xcode 4.2 question was a standard Clang static analyzer warning on an under-released NSObject, but the My program has a memory leak deals with Core Foundation objects. The latter are handled differently, thus the very different answers here.

I can understand the reasoning here (same user, similar terms), which in most cases would make this the right decision, but in this case I believe these two questions should be split apart again. I wouldn't be too hard on Dori about this, because this is a tricky situation that only someone familiar with the platform would recognize.

Unfortunately, the "Memory leak in Xcode 4.2" one should be closed as a duplicate of many other questions on the site. The second one could be edited into better shape to stand on its own.

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Should these have been merged just because of the similar titles/tags and same user?

Of course not, but that's an absurd question to begin with; nobody is going to argue that unrelated questions with similar titles should be merged. The questions were essentially the same except for the code, so it's not hard to see how the person who merged them might not have realized they have different answers

Is there any requirement for the person who is performing the merge to be proficient in the subject matter of the question (if there isn't, should there be)?

No, any moderator can merge questions. There's no precedent for requiring mods to be proficient in certain tags (and I recently argued that there shouldn't be). Generally mods will only merge questions if they're sure the questions are actually the same, since merges are fairly hard to undo

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Understandable, but: "The questions were essentially the same except for the code", the code was the question, so shouldn't the flag (assuming this was all b/c of a flag) have been left for a mod to handle who knows the code and can tell the difference in the questions? Also, I am wondering if I should delete my answer on the merged question, what would you suggest? – chown Nov 12 '11 at 22:00
@chown Either a dev will have to sit down and unmerge it, or somebody should go through and make sure the answers make sense on the new question. Not sure which will end up happening – Michael Mrozek Nov 12 '11 at 22:04
I raised a flag to point out all those "my button won't stop playing sound" questions, which were actually spread across two users. That was an absolutely absurd situation, and I think that Dori may have built up a little merging momentum and gone after these two because of their superficial similarity. (I can't, of course, be sure that there wasn't another flag on these two.) Agreed that they probably shouldn't have been merged. @chown – Josh Caswell Nov 12 '11 at 22:35

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