So, yesterday these two questions got posted, one on English Language Learners and one on English Language and Usage:

Both of them are (for their respective sites) very high in views, likely due to at least one or both of them making it onto Hot Network Questions.

They also both have many answers, many of which overlap but not all.

I'm not sure how it took this long for them to be noticed to be duplicates as they're really obviously dupes... But I can't imagine one site deciding to just delete the question, particularly as the answers aren't always duplicated on the two sites.

Is there a way for these two questions to be merged somehow on one site?

I know that there are already questions about merging and whether it's generally something that can be made possible... that is not what I'm asking.

I'm asking if, in this specific case, some admin can merge them.

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    What value is there in merging? If they are on-topic in various communities, then there is no need to merge or delete, as far as I'm concerned. – Carrie Kendall Jul 15 '15 at 17:01
  • This post goes into more detail: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/4708/… – Carrie Kendall Jul 15 '15 at 17:02
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    @CarrieKendall It has been stated that cross posting is not allowed. – Catija Jul 15 '15 at 17:03
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    I don't think there's any official policy. I think this answer from an SE employee would be the closest thing to official. From the last paragraph: In the edge case where the question is appropriate on more than one site, leave it on both sites and let the users of each community benefit from the information. – Carrie Kendall Jul 15 '15 at 17:08
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    Also, it seems based on the upvotes of the posts, that it is well received by both communities. – Carrie Kendall Jul 15 '15 at 17:09
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    @CarrieKendall I get it... but that question is much older than all of the other questions talking about not cross posting. – Catija Jul 15 '15 at 17:09
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    I agree that there must be something to stop this. With the growth of SE communities, there are currently a lot of sites with some overlaps. Posting identical questions must be discouraged. – M.A.R. Jul 15 '15 at 17:34
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    The other thing is that, technically, any "Single word request" type question could be on-topic on both ELL and ELU, meaning that if this is allowed, a significant portion of the two sites could end up being identical. – Catija Jul 15 '15 at 17:36
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    both are in hot-questions indeed. EL&U (one with 20+ answers) currently at #26, ELL (with 10+ answers) at #61 in the list – gnat Jul 15 '15 at 17:39
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    @Catija this rather suggests that there might be a single, dedicated site for stuff like that. "Naming / Wording Golf", with asking and answering rules similar to those in Code Golf – gnat Jul 15 '15 at 17:45
  • @gnat Possibly. This type of question is certainly significantly more common one ELU than on ELL, so I'm not sure it would need a third site. – Catija Jul 15 '15 at 17:52
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    I found a post in meta.SU with a nice answer about this issue. The thing is, identical posting is a no-no. – M.A.R. Jul 15 '15 at 18:28
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    @CarrieKendall FWIW "upvotes of the posts" is a slippery measure, see The Trouble With Popularity: "we discovered that these posts become so popular over time that they truly start to drown out everything else on the site... it's too addictive and too easy, and in the absence of any moderation, the community would do nothing but add and upvote the easy, fun stuff..." – gnat Jul 17 '15 at 10:17

A ♦ mod could migrate the ELL version to ELU, then a ♦ mod there could use the on-site question merge tool to bring them together. This would leave a redirect from ELL for at least a while and would preserve all answers, although there would still be some duplication that would have to be cleaned up by deleting answers. (There's actually a bit of intra-ELU duplication already.)

This wouldn't require an employee at all, just one ♦ on each site.

Given that the question, and even the answers, are far more highly-voted on ELU, and with less clarification required, it seems clear that that's where it belongs.

Alternatively, the ELL version could just be deleted, although that's probably excessive.


Setting aside whether they should be merged... no, questions can't be merged across sites by anybody. It could be migrated from one site to the other and then merged, but... then we're back to deciding whether or not the questions should be merged in the first place.

In a more general case, cross-posting is allowed. The main "trick" to doing it right is to tailor the question to the specific community it's being posted in even if it's fundamentally the same at its core. This is, perhaps, rather difficult when it comes to communities like ELL and ELU that have a lot of overlap in their scope. Even without an overlap, it's rare that this kind of cross-posting is done correctly.

However, even if it isn't... in practice, it doesn't tend to matter. So long as the question is asked and answered well, we still did something good for the internet at large. Don't get too caught up in attempting to perfectly classify or place any given question.

Back to this specific case... it's a word request where the top answer on both questions is the same. It's a popular word request, by the looks of it, but still. Meh. Just... meh.

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    ain't it funny when identical question takes two places in hot list? "Oops I did it again occupied positions #26 and #61 in our charts". Wonder if it happened that both copies were simultaneously shuffled into someone's sidebar – gnat Jul 16 '15 at 11:52
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    Great answer, Anna. I think communities should focus on asking does this post meet our criteria for our community rather than pursuing the "handling" of cross-dupes. Cross duplicates and per-site duplicates are really completely different and shouldn't be handled the same. – Carrie Kendall Jul 16 '15 at 14:36

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