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Sometimes when there are duplicates, the newer question gets answers that are relevant and weren't mentioned in the first question.

If merging is not suitable (for instance, a relevant answer would get hidden in a ton of other answers), I think that adding a link on the old question to the new question might be helpful for people looking for answers.

Especially if the question is asked on a different time (meaning a different crowd answering) or asked a big while after the first question (new developments might have occurred.)

Something like this might serve this purpose better, but looks a lot more complex to implement correctly. What I propose should be easy to implement as a temporary measure at least.

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2 Answers 2

This is deployed experimentally to meta. Notice there is a new Linked Posts column on the right, above the existing Related Posts.

Linked posts are built by scanning the post body and comment body for strings matching

http://example.com/questions/\d+/

Once "linked", the links are visible on both sides.

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deletions are still an issue. The feature is experimental.. –  Jeff Atwood Apr 25 '10 at 9:14
    
Using TinyURL to avoid generating links through these comments: the closed duplicate Make times on the site in user’s local time zone and its "master" Make recent activity “today” etc. buttons based on user’s time zone are not (yet) linked. Is that because the "Closed as" reason is not taken into account? –  Arjan Apr 25 '10 at 9:35
    
@arjan, something has to trigger building the link table (edit, new comment, new answer, etc etc); nothing has triggered it in those cases. I fixed a few initial bugs already, it should mostly work. We'll play with it on meta for a bit first before I deploy it Sunday to the other sites. I need to get Jarrod and Geoff to code review it as well. –  Jeff Atwood Apr 25 '10 at 9:38

Generally the best way to handle this is to flag the newer post for moderator attention and request that they merge the answers onto the older question.

It wouldn't work for this to be done automatically, as often the newer question just collects cruft answers that aren't worth preserving, or the question was worded slightly differently so the answers wouldn't make perfect sense if they were translocated without editing.

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But what would a moderator do if one question has 12300 views and 50 answers, the other 123 and 5 answers, top answer in old has 55 votes and top in new has 5. The 5 votes answer would probably be lost in the noise if they were to be merged. Linking can be done automatically and presents no such problem, because the 5 votes answer would still be the top and read by the people looking for an answer. And you just can't say that the 55 votes answer is the better answer, due to matters of scale. –  John the Seagull Mar 3 '10 at 6:39
    
BTW, I'm specifically talking about when merging is NOT suitable (for the reasons stated in the previous comment) AND there is a worthy answer, seems you didn't read that part of the question. Anyway, as dupes are only marked as dupes when they are closed, new answers wouldn't collect 'cruft' answers. Automatic forward linking does nothing to worsen this scenario (even if it cannot tell where the new answer has or not value), it only improves navigation and findability for the cases where the newer dupes do have value. If they don't, well, it doesn't make things worse. –  John the Seagull Mar 3 '10 at 6:47

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