5

I often see questions marked as duplicates because they "overlap" another question. Usually, the correct answer is a part of an accepted answer on another question.

Why wouldn't we want to allow the more specific question, to help people who might be looking for the same thing? Isn't that better than forcing them to hunt through long answers for the detail they need?

Here's the situation:

  • Question A asks about something complicated (like, "Who is Voldemort?"), and gets an answer that answers the question comprehensively, with lots of detail on related topics.

  • Question B asks a more specific question about one aspect of the complicated topic (like, "Where was Voldemort born?").

  • Then, Question B gets closed a duplicate of Question A.

There's no doubt that the accepted answer for Question A includes the correct answer for Question B. But it's hidden inside a long answer, most of which is entirely unrelated to Question B.

Why wouldn't we want to encourage these more specific questions? Wouldn't it improve the overall quality of the site to have answers to all the "forms" a question might take?

Is there a cost to having overlapping questions that I'm not seeing?

  • 1
    Not a great example since - these questions shouldn't be dupes to each other. – Journeyman Geek Jun 17 '19 at 4:56
  • The irony here is killing me. I'm seeing the exact problem I'm talking about happening right now. I'm asking about overlapping questions, which is only 1 part of the larger duplicate topic. The answer for that question (which isn't accepted) talks about a lot of things - wouldn't it be helpful to copy the one relevant part into an answer for this question? What's the downside? – LevenTech Jun 17 '19 at 6:01
2

What happens now and then (and should happen more often, especially with the revised deletion logic for 'Possible duplicate of' comments), is that users not only vote to close the question as a duplicate, but in addition link to the specific answer(s) which answer that part of the new question.

They might even quote relevant parts of the answer, but that has the same downside as answering the new question anyway by quoting answer(s) on the original question: content gets duplicated, so when the content changes, it needs to be changed in two or more places. As many people here know from their experience as software developers, that is not going to happen; that's why we use DRY.
Still, I'm doing this quite often, especially here, when the original question is a . Those answers are often long and you can't link to an anchor in the page. But I digress ...

| improve this answer | |
  • Excellent answer - DRY is a good way to solve the problem of propagating future changes. But like you say, it would help if there were a way to link to a particular location within a long answer – LevenTech Jun 21 '19 at 1:35

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .