Had an interesting observation today:

It's well known that you can't bindingly close a question as a duplicate if you were the first one to add the tag you hold the gold badge for. But apparently you can add a tag you hold a gold badge for and then edit the duplicate list (we did this purely for science on a duplicate we wanted to delete anyway):

https://stackoverflow.com/posts/16086086/revisions (10K rep on Stack Overflow required)

This seems like an oversight. Shouldn't the duplicate list perform the same check the dupehammer does in ensuring people who added their gold badge tags can't wield dupehammer power for that question?

  • I am pretty sure I there are occasions where I managed to add tag and then dupe hammer it. Sep 1, 2020 at 16:40
  • @ResistanceIsFutile Only prohibit those who edited the tags from using the dupe hammer
    – M--
    Sep 1, 2020 at 16:47
  • @M-- I am pretty sure I didn't have dupe hammer back then. Maybe I am wrong, I didn't hammered too many questions. Sep 1, 2020 at 16:52
  • 2
    Machavity, you might want to comment under the Rules of The Dupehammer and meta.stackexchange.com/a/268281/282094
    – Rob
    Sep 1, 2020 at 17:02
  • 4
    FWIW I'm ambivalent about the current behavior--it is probably not intended to work this way, but the potential for abuse is low; these are trusted SMEs making a change that bumps the question. And it's less problematic for someone to erroneously change a dupe target; we can effectively make unlimited changes to the list as needed if we see someone messing with dupe targets on questions we've closed with our dupehammers.
    – TylerH
    Sep 1, 2020 at 17:59

4 Answers 4


I kinda have the opposite idea.

I'm fine with the current behavior, because editing dupe lists is less "destructive" than closing / reopening, so letting gold-holders edit the lists after inserting their gold tags seem OK to me.

Whenever someone abuses their power and acts recklessly, we can always have mods suspend them. It's rarely an issue in practice, so this is not going to be detrimental.

Though, I'm also fine with it being fixed if it was not the intended behavior. I only see no harm leaving it as-is.

Note: I do not support allowing closing / reopening after inserting your own gold tags. Only "editing dupe lists" is friendly enough not to be prevented.


I think the argument should not necessarily focus on how harmful it is, but on what the intended behavior is. The question is: do we want the following policy?

"Getting a gold badge on any one tag grants you the privilege of editing the duplicate list of any question"

(This is not the current policy, but it is what effectively happens now, because gold tag badge holders can add their tag to any question and then edit its duplicate list).

  • If the answer is yes, then give that privilege explicitly and directly to all gold tag badge holders.

  • If the answer is no, then prevent the workaround that lets gold badge holders edit the duplicate list of any question.

There is no good reason to have a "feature" that can only be used through an obscure workaround.

I personally think the answer should be no, because the motivation to give gold tag badge holders their powers is that they are supposed to be experts on the tag topic. Not on all topics of the site. So their powers should be limited to questions on that topic.

  • To be clear, it's not that I could just edit the dupe list of any question, it's that I could add an irrelevant tag I have a gold badge in to give me access to edit the dupe list. Normally, adding the tag to the question for the first time myself would preclude me from having any special access/powers over the question's state.
    – TylerH
    Sep 1, 2020 at 18:04
  • @TylerH I know, that's why I call it a "feature that can only be used through an obscure workaround".
    – wimi
    Sep 1, 2020 at 19:28
  • I'm just pointing it out more clearly since the bold quoted policy you suggest does not actually reflect the situation that well.
    – TylerH
    Sep 1, 2020 at 20:07
  • @TylerH I have added that clarification to the answer.
    – wimi
    Sep 1, 2020 at 20:29
  • That abuse is possible (i.e. add an irrelevant tag in order to edit the dup-target) doesn't mean the choice should be between "explicitly permit the action which is currently abuse" and "don't permit the currently permitted action (i.e. add a relevant tag and then edit the dup-target list)". The choice really is a trade-off between the relative benefit/harm of each possible implementation. In other words, we need to know/estimate the benefit and harm for each of: A) current operation; B) no ability to edit dup-target list if added tag; and C) dup-target editing permitted for all questions.
    – Makyen
    Oct 28, 2020 at 16:47

I think it should be the way you're suggesting. If the logic is to avert users from abusing their gold badge, then editing the dupe list and dupe-hammering are not different. There's not much more to say, other than calling this a bug.

It seems there's another side to this story. One can argue that closing the question causes harm by not letting the OP to get an answer, while editing the list is harmless. However, I believe it is not harmless. There were cases that I have seen gold-badger adding links to the banner that are not entirely related to the question but they had highly upvoted answers on them. While we won't and should not rip off the privilege just because some would abuse it, I suppose enforcing the same restrictions seems reasonable.

  • 2
    They are very different, though. One closes the question and prevents answers from being posted. The other merely changes a list at the top and has no affect on the state of the question.
    – animuson StaffMod
    Sep 1, 2020 at 16:48
  • You missed the first part of my sentence; If the logic is to avert users from abusing their gold badge. But if the logic is something like not letting gold badgers to abuse their power and "cause harm" to the normal flow of the site, then we can argue further.
    – M--
    Sep 1, 2020 at 16:50
  • 5
    To prevent abuse is inherently to prevent causing harm. Your argument should be focusing on whether it is abusive to edit the list of duplicates. You're entirely leaning on "it is because this also is" even though they are very different actions.
    – animuson StaffMod
    Sep 1, 2020 at 16:52
  • @animuson it is a fair point. I added something to my answer to address that from my point of view. Thank you for your comment and challenging my argument. Cheers.
    – M--
    Sep 1, 2020 at 17:03
  • 1
    @M-- If a user is editing in questions to the target list that are irrelevant, for the purpose of directing traffic to their own answers, that is a separate issue (of abuse) and should be flagged regardless of this bug/feature.
    – TylerH
    Sep 1, 2020 at 18:02
  • @animuson so... what anonymous users see when they visit these questions? I remember that they were redirected. What happens in these cases?
    – Braiam
    Oct 28, 2020 at 15:24

I would totally be in favour of resolving this bug.

I honestly don't see any harm in changing the duplicate list. It is expected of gold badge holders to know what exactly constitutes a duplicate and what not. They should be more then capable of applying that to other areas besides their "own" tags.

What my area of concern is, is the following:

We all know that closed questions being shoved in our faces isn't making us any happier, there are many posts from Jeff around this subject. Seeing that editing the duplicate list doesn't notify the OP (IIRC), there is no harm in doing that. The OP however does get notified if someone edits their question, to add the irrelevant tag, and most likely of a rollback later.

This is something that isn't desired IMHO, as the OP gets notified of the edit and the rollback. Confronting them with their sub-standard question twice.

You must log in to answer this question.

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