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I answered a question on Stack Overflow and was submitting a revision to my answer, and got an error saying the page could not be found, and the question had disappeared. I've looked around here and see the 2 most common possibilities are that the question was merged or deleted.

Problem is there is nothing to indicate which happened, and if it was indeed merged, there is no way of knowing where it is now. This is surely a bad design.

If a question is deleted, surely it should show a message indicating this for at least a few minutes, and/or notify the person who originally asked the question (not me in this case) or if it was merged, it should redirect to the question it was merged with?

The data doesn't need to be kept permanently but at least people who are directly editing an answer or doing something on the question could be notified?

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3  
About the specific question: It got deleted by the user that asked it. For the reasons one only can guess, there is no indication why he decided to delete the question. –  sth Jan 7 '10 at 13:11
    
Thanks for that. Now I feel less paranoid ;-) –  Bork Blatt Jan 7 '10 at 13:16
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Re merge (which isn't the case here); merged questions don't currently redirect. I kinda think maybe they should... –  Marc Gravell Jan 7 '10 at 13:40
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link for those with 10k rep: stackoverflow.com/questions/2020216 –  Kip Jan 7 '10 at 15:39
    
Thanks to random for the clean-up. I should in retrospect not have tried for the amusing title, but gone for clarity. And the link to the question is much better. –  Bork Blatt Jan 8 '10 at 12:12

1 Answer 1

up vote 1 down vote accepted

Merged questions do have an indicator, but only on one side, in the post history:

When merging two questions A and B

  • Question A: has history record of merging Question B
  • Question B: question ceases to exist. Body text lost. All comments and answers are merged into Question A.

Merges are extremely rare operations, though, since we only do that if the questions are 100% identical in every way. I'd say I do maybe 2 per week, at most, across all the sites.

The most typical reason it happens is because a user re-posted the exact same question.

edit: we now handle question merging in a much more sane way -- both questions are retained, one is a stub, and all answers are migrated into the merged question. If the stub is deleted, we 301 redirect to the merge target.

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Thanks Jeff. In my case it wasn't a merge, so I haven't observed how a merged question behaves. –  Bork Blatt Jan 8 '10 at 12:11
    
merges are the weirder case, since deletes are not really delelets -- they are visible to 10k rep users and can be easily undone. In a merge, something is irrevocably destroyed and with very little evidence. –  Jeff Atwood Jan 8 '10 at 12:15

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