I was wondering, sometimes the reason for the existence of a duplicate question might be, because the original was not very "findable." Or the duplicate might have better answers, or applicable to more circumstances. Are there any efforts to merge questions in those circumstances?

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    Its a good point. Here's an example of where the original was closed in favour of the more popular duplicate. – StuartLC Dec 19 '13 at 22:14

Less findable original

If the original wasn't very findable then thats exactly when a duplicate is a good thing to make it more findable. Which is the more findable is ultimately irrelevant as one will point to the other. The question is which has the best answers

Less clear original

Again as both questions point to the same answers it doesn't matter (much), the question again is which has better answers

Both have good answers

This is the case in which a merge is appropriate, flag for moderator attention to suggest this.

Don't take close as duplicate as a bad thing; take it as "hey! Good news! We've found all these ready made answers to your question! "

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When we close a question as duplicate, we do because it is asking for the exact same thing and we judge that it won't get different answers.

Is there any effort in determining if a duplicate question is better than the original?

...If it is closed as duplicate, the effort has been made.

If it is clear that your question is not applicable to the same situations or might get different answers because there is a variant to it, it won't get closed.

I asked this one this morning about a question that was asked many times before but since it is different and there were no reputation tracker before, it is now a different question.

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Merging questions certainly has happened in the past; that would happen only when you had two separate questions, both of which had very good answer(s) worth saving, which were determined to be sufficiently similar to not merit two separate questions. I'm fairly sure it's quite rare (in particular, a mod would have to do it; there's no 'merge' flag for a regular user, so it would have to come from an 'other' flag or a request from meta).

In general, the reason for the duplicate redirect (as opposed to deletion) is specifically because of what you say: perhaps the duplicate might be more findable, even if the original has answers (or better answers). Questions closed for Off Topic or other reasons are often deleted eventually; questions closed for Duplicate are not, so that Google/etc. index them and will bring them up in results if they are indeed well written questions.

The "is any effort used" of course varies by question... it takes 5 votes to close something of 3k+ rep users, so hopefully at least one of those users went to some effort. I would suggest that almost all of the time that is the case, but certainly occasional questions might get 4 robo-reviewers and one initial misguided soul.

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Having been the victim of such overzealous "Duplicate" flagging, I applaud your courage to ask. In my experience there doesn't seem to be any effort at all.

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  • Do you have an example? – ThisSuitIsBlackNot Dec 19 '13 at 22:15
  • @ThisSuitIsBlackNot meta.stackexchange.com/questions/212140/… If you read further down, you can see I even begin to help one of the original flaggers understand the difference and the logic, but because something was asked that used the same words within less than 5 min it was flagged as a dupe and disregarded. I went on to have a long discussion with the commenter regardless... and made lots of effort to update the question to suit their complaint. Once it's a dupe, it's useless to the world regardless of how valid. – oucil Dec 19 '13 at 22:18
  • That question is a duplicate. Not because of the same words. But because of the content which is proposing the exact same thing as the question it duplicates. – ʞunɥdɐpɐɥd Dec 19 '13 at 22:20
  • @insertcleverxmasname You obviously did the same thing as the others and didn't bother reading the discussion thread. The original question had no methods or suggestions, mine was actually a suggestion / feature request that included solutions to the problems that were raised in the comments of the original. – oucil Dec 19 '13 at 22:24
  • @oucil Meta is different, even if that weren't an identical issue (I don't know, and am not going to get in the middle of that part.) 'Duplicate' on meta not only means 'really a duplicate' but also 'we talked about that a long time ago and don't really want to go over it AGAIN, even if your question and suggestions were interesting', and several other things. – Joe Dec 19 '13 at 22:27
  • I actually read both your post and the one that you duplicated. It is asking about the same feature request that was rejected. No matter how you put it up, nothing changed since that first question except for some other propositions you add to see if you can re-ask the question with these minor changes. Your whole post should have been a comment on the first question asked or maybe an answer. This would have brought up the post and maybe, very...*maybe* reopene the discussion. – ʞunɥdɐpɐɥd Dec 19 '13 at 22:28
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    Re: "Once it's a dupe, it's useless to the world..." That's not exactly true; if it were, dupes would be deleted. Instead, they are left up because they can help people find valuable content using different search keywords. – ThisSuitIsBlackNot Dec 19 '13 at 22:35
  • @joe Meta is for discussing the Stack sites if I'm not mistaken, it's what the about page says, so if it was the wrong place to bring it up, that's not obvious. The other issue was that the original was 4 years old, and irrelevant for a number of reasons pointed out by commenters. In any case, I just feel the question raised above shows that in some cases, flagging as a duplicate sometimes hides more valuable questions / ideas in favour of lesser ones. It's everyones right to disagree with me on this, and for that there is a down arrow above :) – oucil Dec 19 '13 at 22:42
  • @oucil its been decided (with answers that describe a more general case) that we don't want 'anyone but OP' accept under any circumstances. The answer is always that whatever the specific circumstances – Richard Tingle Dec 19 '13 at 22:50
  • @RichardTingle I do understand the necessity of such a hard line, my attempt was only to show there are circumstances where it could both work and be valuable. But I do understand. With relation to the above question, my frustration was with the efficiency that mine was dispatched without discussion, and that it's one of the reasons people may feel the same as the OP in this case. There are just too many hawks watching the questions and so they are locked up too fast to answer to the commenters. I wouldn't necessarily take that view on any other stack site, but meta's different. – oucil Dec 19 '13 at 23:03
  • I didn't say it was the wrong place to bring it up; I meant that on meta, the closing reasons are used a little differently. Just like voting on meta is different (implies agreement/disagreement rather than implying a good/bad answer). SO/etc. are fact-based, so questions are either duplicates or they aren't. Meta is about discussion largely, so questions can be not exactly duplicates, but rehashing the same general ground over and over again with various proposals that are similar but not identical is not necessarily valuable to the community, either. – Joe Dec 20 '13 at 4:59
  • @Joe Gotcha, fair enough, but don't you think 4 years might be enough time between discussions? Like I said to Richard, I understand the need for a hard line, but that doesn't mean there aren't CON's to that approach which end up burying good content. We live in a world of grey and it seems that SO is trying to "paint it black" ;) Good luck with that. – oucil Dec 20 '13 at 13:20

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