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I'm adding this feature request to have high-rep users (15k?) to be able to migrate answers from one question to another, so that questions for duplicate answers can be consolidated.

Of course, there would have to be parameters, and a complete historical record, so that it could be reversed if mistakes were made. The questions would still be left pointing to the main duplicate (if there were multiple dupes, then there would have to be consolidation of that also).

Obviously, this would take some work to implement, since a complete interface to handle all the details would be needed, but I think in the long run it would add to the organization and usability of the site.

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I had originally suggested something like this (meta.stackoverflow.com/posts/40316/revisions), this sounds better though –  jmfsg Feb 23 '10 at 17:43
    
@Down, yep I started my Meta day reading your post, then hit the dupe question by Gnoupi, and then got the idea. Jeff has said in another post that he was always looking for more abilities for high-rep users. –  Lance Roberts Feb 23 '10 at 17:51
    
Related question: should ordinary users be able to migrate their own answers? meta.stackexchange.com/questions/56670/… –  Andrew Grimm Jul 13 '10 at 23:52

4 Answers 4

up vote 35 down vote accepted
+100

I'd like to propose a different solution. Instead of merging the questions one could create question pools. All questions are linked to all duplicates.

  • All questions are equal, there's no main question.
  • The question with the highest vote gets shown.
  • There should be links to the alternative questions like there is now.
  • All the answers of the questions should be shown.
  • The accepted answer should be the one of the current shown question, if the user decides to view the duplicates all answers should be shown, but the accepted answer should be the one the author of the duplicate has specified.

Please feel free to expand/improve this.

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This sounds like a great idea, just a simple matter of programming. –  Lance Roberts Feb 23 '10 at 18:41
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I proposed something somewhat similar in this question: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/40313/… Where I thought it would be possible to the ability to "answer" a question by providing a link to a duplicate question, and have upvotes on those types of answers get 15 rep instead of 10, to encourage people to link duplicates instead of being the fastest gun in the west. –  Nick Feb 23 '10 at 19:08
    
@Nick: I can't really see the similarities. The one most important change I suggest is that duplicates work both ways -> there's no main question. –  Georg Schölly Feb 23 '10 at 19:11
    
@Georg - I guess I was more proposing a method by which the average user (as opposed to a moderator) would be encouraged and get reputation by helping to identify the duplicates. –  Nick Feb 23 '10 at 19:35
    
@Georg: can you expand on this a bit? How would questions become "pooled"? How would answers be displayed on pooled questions? –  Shog9 Feb 23 '10 at 19:46
    
@Shog9: I'll try to create some screenshots tomorrow, if I'll find the time. –  Georg Schölly Feb 23 '10 at 20:05
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@Lance: of course you realize that all problems can be summarized thus :) –  Ether Feb 23 '10 at 20:25
    
@Ether, yep, it's the programmers mantra. –  Lance Roberts Feb 23 '10 at 21:38
    
Was there any follow-up to this idea of questions' pools? –  Piotr Dobrogost Sep 30 '12 at 19:37
    
@PiotrDobrogost: Not that I know of. –  Georg Schölly Sep 30 '12 at 19:45

I think this could be extremely useful, providing a way to consolidate answers to common questions without the destructiveness currently involved in merging (the questions would remain as "sign posts").

...but there would need to be some ground rules:

  1. The question being migrated from should be closed as a duplicate of the question being migrated to. (seems obvious, but without this it would be chaos!)
  2. There should be a waiting period after the question has been closed before its answers can be migrated. One day should suffice.
  3. There should be some sort of vote involved. I think the same system as is currently used for deletion would suffice: 3 votes to migrate, no voting limit. In instances where multiple destinations are chosen, first question with the majority of the votes is used.
  4. Answers should be locked and soft-deleted on the original question.
  5. Votes, revision history, comments, and ownership should transfer intact.
  6. "Accepted answer" status should not transfer.

It would also be useful to have a list of answers pending migration as part of the 10k tools, both for review purposes and to aid in collaborative migration.

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I agree with all the points you made, though I'm not sure if the voting would work, but it might if there is a list in the 10k tools, otherwise people won't be seeing those questions, since a lot of them will be old enough to not be on the front page. –  Lance Roberts Feb 23 '10 at 17:10
    
Should you be able to migrate accepted answers at all? What happens to the rep the answerer got from the accept, what about the rep the questioner got from the accept? –  Dominic Rodger Feb 23 '10 at 17:11
    
@Lance: I know what you mean, but I think such a feature would be entirely too dangerous without it. Of course, moderators should be allowed to migrate instantly, thus providing a way to quickly handle old questions. –  Shog9 Feb 23 '10 at 17:12
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@Dominic: it should go "poof!" –  Shog9 Feb 23 '10 at 17:13
    
@Dominic, maybe a different color for a migrated accepted answer, or maybe nothing, but the rep for it is kept track of in the background –  Lance Roberts Feb 23 '10 at 17:14

Quora does this, and in my experience the system works very well.

Duplicate questions can be redirected to the main one, and the user who does that can suggest to posters that answered to move their answers to the main question.

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I am invoking poetic license and marking this completed because we now have much saner handling of question merges.

http://blog.stackoverflow.com/2010/06/improved-question-merging/

However, I am not yet comfortable giving this ability to regular users, because merging is such a tricky business. It's quite rare to find two identical questions.

So if you want something merged, flag it for mod attention with a comment indicating the URL that you think it should be merged with.

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