So why can't you delete duplicate questions with answers?

I asked a question and I researched as much as I could have. But, after I asked someone posted a question that had completely different wording to my question as a duplicate. I concede that the question was duplicate. But my issue is that now that it has answers and I have been down-voted for the duplicate question, I want the question deleted.

If I had of know it was a duplicate I would not have asked in the first place.

Why won't the answers in the duplicate question be added to the original question and the duplicate question deleted?

EDIT, in the comments the are arguments for duplicates and partial duplicates. If it is an exact duplicate, the answers should be added to the original question. If it is a partial duplicate, the question obviously adds new information and should not be marked a duplicate and allowed to stand as is.

Why can't duplicates be deleted by the asker?

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    Your question has produced possibly useful content. Why do you want to delete that? When you delete your question, those useful answers will also be deleted. – M.A.R. Oct 28 '16 at 12:08
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    @M.A.R., if my post has usefull cointent why do I get negative rep? – KyloRen Oct 28 '16 at 12:09
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    If your post is deemed useful, it will get upvotes. If not, it won't. The answers are upvoted and that's why you can't delete your question. The quality of answers has little to do with the quality of question in single cases. – M.A.R. Oct 28 '16 at 12:10
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    You still have to reward users who knowingly post duplicate answers also. Deleting takes away from the effort of everyone involved in not using search – random Oct 28 '16 at 17:01
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    @KyloRen Personally I no longer answer or ask questions because you lose all control of your content, and I feel like people are mean spirited about it. No matter how much I research, there is criticism. Plus, (paradoxically) more research means fewer people read / engage with the question because it becomes too long. My most upvoted "famous" question started off with downvotes and bitter criticism about how the question is totally invalid. I can't keep up with the nuances of all the rules and conventions on SO, that would be a full time job. – geneorama Oct 28 '16 at 17:23
  • They can, in fact be merged. If they are really the same then it makes sence to move all the answers together. I agree that downvoting because it’s a duplicate and already closed is pointless and even hurts when a Q still adds valuable context. – JDługosz Mar 19 '17 at 7:50

Duplicate questions can be deleted by their owner, under the same conditions as with other non-duplicate questions. By asking your question, you have invited other users to write well-received (i.e. upvoted) answers. It wouldn't be fair to them if you could delete their answers, in which they have invested some time to write them.

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    Add the answers to the original question if it is a dupe – KyloRen Oct 28 '16 at 12:10
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    That only works if it's an exact duplicate of the original question. In that case, moderators can merge both questions. – Glorfindel Oct 28 '16 at 12:10
  • You do do realize how stupid that statement was. If it was not a duplicate why is it being flagged – KyloRen Oct 28 '16 at 12:12
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    There's a huge difference between duplicate and exact duplicate, especially on the more technical Q&A sites. – Glorfindel Oct 28 '16 at 12:13
  • oh , so there is partial duplicates. What is the meaning of a duplicate? – KyloRen Oct 28 '16 at 12:14
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    @Kylo duplication is not a binary state. Some questions are very similar to ones asked before and some are not, while the same answer might apply to both. Some questions are interchangeable with previous ones, and those are exact duplicates. If you think your question is an exact duplicate of a previous one, you can flag it for moderator attention and if the mod agrees, they will be merged. – M.A.R. Oct 28 '16 at 12:14
  • @M.A.R., so how do you have a partial duplicate? A duplicate is an exact replica – KyloRen Oct 28 '16 at 12:17
  • If a question adds new information , it is then no longer considered a duplicate. – KyloRen Oct 28 '16 at 12:18
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    @Kylo I don't have a shining example, but consider; "I have one apple and Steve gave me another. How many do I have?" which is interchangeable with "1+1=?" but not interchangeable with "10-8=?" as the thought process in the latter differs. – M.A.R. Oct 28 '16 at 12:20
  • @M.A.R., if it adds new content to the original question, it is no longer a duplicate. There is no such thing as a partial duplicate. It is or is isn't – KyloRen Oct 28 '16 at 12:22
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    @Kylo I beg to differ. If you hang around and deal with a bunch of duplicates, you'd see that there is a spectrum and things aren't Boolean. It sounds fun to nitpick about the wording, but honestly, are you here to complain about question closure or are you really curious about why things work the way they do? – M.A.R. Oct 28 '16 at 12:26
  • @M.A.R. No, if you hdad of read the question, I consided the question was a duplicate. So why can't I delete it and have the answers addded to the dup question? – KyloRen Oct 28 '16 at 12:28
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    @Kylo because there is no such mechanism other than merging. And only mods can merge; because they've been more active on the site and they can tell whether or not two questions are identical. Giving this ability to askers will result in a bit more of a headache, since they won't know when to and not to merge. – M.A.R. Oct 28 '16 at 12:30

As this answer says, duplicates are not a bad thing -- they provide alternate search paths to get to the answers. Plus, it's not fair to the answerers to delete their work.

But if the questions are exact duplicates, then it would be better to have the answers all in one place. Moderators can merge questions. The result in this case would be that the original question would remain, all answers would be attached to it, and your question would become a duplicate stub (no answers). If all the answers on your question also answer the other question -- that is, if they are exact duplicates -- then you can use a custom flag to explain this to the moderators and ask for a merge.

Once the questions have been merged, if you still want to delete your now-answerless question, you can.


Duplicates are not a bad thing. See How I Learned to Stop Worrying And Love Duplication and this very relevant feature-request: Advise users not to delete their question when it is closed as duplicate which is about advising against deleting even when you can.

Duplicates serve as sign posts to existing questions and make finding the original easier with added keywords etc. It's very likely they add slightly different perspective to the same question. Most duplicates aren't in fact exact duplicates in a true word-for-word sense, questions tend to come from real life situations and no two situations are truly identical.

You said:

in the comments the are arguments for duplicates and partial duplicates. If it is an exact duplicate, the answers should be added to the original question. If it is a partial duplicate, the question obviously adds new information and should not be marked a duplicate and allowed to stand as is.

You are essentially arguing against the whole duplicate system here and considering the amount of ongoing work going in to the way duplicates are dealt with, I don't think we're going to stop closing questions as duplicates. Regarding partial duplicates, please see How should duplicate questions be handled? which says:

Questions may be duplicates if they have the same (potential) answers. This includes not only word-for-word duplicates, but also the same idea expressed in different words.

As for deleting your own duplicate questions, if you really want to, you can. With the same limitations as deleting any question. See How does deleting work?

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    The vast majority of duplicates aren't useful signposts. Yes, there are occasional posts that are written in such a way as to attract a notable amount of traffic that wouldn't otherwise find its way to the canonical post, and leaving those signposts around can be quite valuable. For the remaining posts that aren't very visible, they are not providing that value, and there is no reason to keep them around. (Since the OP didn't link to a question, we obviously couldn't say whether or not his post is a good signpost.) – Servy Oct 28 '16 at 16:38
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    @Servy I don't know how you came to that conclusion, the very fact that it is a duplicate makes it a signpost. whether the question has little traffic isn't of much consequence (should we just delete all questions with less than x views/month? ...maybe but that's a different question), the point is duplicates are no different than other questions – Cai Oct 28 '16 at 16:47
  • I'm guessing this is the question OP is talking about btw – Cai Oct 28 '16 at 16:48
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    Like I said, the vast majority aren't useful signposts. They aren't going to actually direct people to the canonical, and as such, they don't need to be kept around for the sake of being signposts. Yes, there are a small number of posts that will be very useful signposts, and they should be kept, but for the vast majority of duplicates, they aren't actually adding value as signposts, so that's not a reason to not delete them. – Servy Oct 28 '16 at 17:22

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