At the risk of incurring everyone's wrath, I'll admit that I was one of the people who voted to delete that. I'll explain my thought process for the sake of discussion...
Although I understand the stance put forth by Jeff about the usefulness of duplicates (i.e. improving the coverage and search results), I can't help but wonder if a year-old, sparsely-tagged, closed duplicate question is really going to help at all. Consider that even though the original question and the duplicate have been around for over a year, we still had this question appear just 11 days ago (and I'm fairly certain I've seen even more copies of it show up before).
If I go to the search box and type the title of the older duplicate verbatim, I still get the newer duplicate showing up first in the list. The newer duplicate also shows up first if I search "python line break". Maybe this is a failing of the SO search box, which a lot of users will probably use instead of the Google search route. Or maybe this is intended, since the older duplicate is so old.
In short, I must admit that I have doubts about keeping duplicates around:
- How well do they really redirect traffic to the originals?
- How many duplicates are really necessary? Do we really just need a couple?
- Should older duplicates be progressively purged since newer duplicates may show up first in searches anyway, negating the need for the older ones?
I'll concede the point for this particular question, since it does have a lot of views and a good rank on Google. However, I still don't like the idea of having content distributed across multiple questions, and would still lean in the direction of a merge at least. Perhaps just the answers from the duplicate can be merged into the original, leaving the duplicate question as merely a routing point to the answers?
Incidentally, I just noticed that 10k+ users can vote for delete/undelete as many times as they want (unlike close/reopen votes). That could make for some ugly delete/undelete wars (like the one the question seems to be undergoing now). But don't worry... I won't be voting to delete that one again.
I just wanted to address the assertion that a high ranking on Google means we should keep a duplicate around. Seeing as how popular SO has gotten, getting a high rank on Google almost seems trivial. Almost any SO question could probably achieve a good Google ranking, so a duplicate with a good Google ranking isn't necessarily so special.
Take, for example, this MATLAB question I answered earlier today. Now, MATLAB is hardly a popular tag on SO (currently just 1,003 questions out of 578,286 total), and the question above currently has only 39 views, 4 answers, and nothing voted higher than 4. And yet it is already fifth on the list when I search Google for the phrase "MATLAB duplicate rows", and it's only fifth because four links to The MathWorks (the makers of MATLAB) come in before it!
I'm not saying it's a bad question. Many MATLAB users would probably find it quite useful and informative. But if an underdog like that can rocket up Google's search result list, is good Google ranking really a legitimate reason to keep old duplicates?