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Summary

The question of "How do you sum the values of an array in PHP?" has been asked and duplicated many times on Stack Overflow. Some Meta threads suggest to make a canonical answer.

What's the process? Should one of the existing questions be made into a community wiki (through editing, or moderator assistance), or should a new question be asked from scratch? Should all existing duplicate questions be closed as a duplicate of the wiki question?

Details

It has been pointed out in the comments of the SO question sum numbers from an array that the question of "How do you sum values of an array in PHP?" has been asked, and the answers duplicated, many times:

The meta threads Need some kind of "golden" question/answer pair and What can be done about repetitive questions? both suggest to make a canonical community wiki answer for this sort of situation (from the former thread):

  1. Make one generic question on the topic.
  2. Answer with a concise, clear and awesome guide, with headers, examples and anything.
  3. Accept the bestest answer
  4. Put a link to it into the relevant tag wikis, for what is worth.
  5. Turn it community wiki and bless it with a red "featured" tag. (moderator assistance required)

So how do we go about making a canonical question and answer for this? Do we just randomly pick one of the existing questions and edit it into a community wiki and generalize it for a wider audience, or do we make a question from scratch? Should all the existing duplicates be closed as duplicates?

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2 Answers 2

up vote 5 down vote accepted

Should one of the existing questions be made into a community wiki (through editing, or mod assistance), or should a new question be asked from scratch?

An existing question should be used, in my opinion. Also, I don't see why it needs to be community wiki. If it's the canonical example of a common question then it should earn reputation.

Should all existing duplicate questions be closed as a duplicate of the wiki question?

If they're asking exactly the same thing, and the answer on the chosen canonical question completely answers the question, then sure, flag them to be closed as a duplicate.

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(At the risk of repeating something that may already have been said) I would go one step further and add a new flag or close reason: flag as duplicate of canonical answer. After enough flags or close votes a diamond mod could be the final arbiter who triggers the close - we don't want to be polluting the canonical question with dubious almost-related-duplicate closes, and we don't want to accidentally increase its scope over time.

I would also suggest that we think a little bit harder about what to do with the closed dupes - I know the internet is infinitely big, but they are just a waste of space, they add clutter. It would be great to just eliminate them, but then you have to think about how to direct the user to the apropriate canonical question instead of their own closed one. Maybe a question closed as a canonical dupe™ could be auto deleted after a month or so? Is there also the possibility that the plethora of closed questions all linking to a common canonical question could lead to adverse search results (or does that really matter?).

Another option that can be considered is that the canonical question is placed at the top of the Questions with similar titles suggestion list that appears when typing up a new question. If there are enough keyword matches between the canonical question and the new question, an alert or nag dialog can be shown to draw the user's attention to the canonical question before they can submit their own.

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