Sometimes when a question is closed there are already some answers.

If this questions is an exact duplicate of another then it is probably a valid question, except that is a duplicate.

But the answers in the new question may be good answers, sometimes better than the answers in the first question. So it would be nice if when a question is closed as a duplicate that all the answers to this question be copied to the first question.

What do you think?

  • Also what if the same user has answered both question with a very similar answer, then they would have 2 answers for the new merged question from the same user and be very similar! – JasonDavis Jan 22 '10 at 21:32
  • I once posted the same answer for several similar questions, and some of my answers were identified as spam despite being relevant. – Anderson Green Nov 30 '12 at 21:23

Sometimes duplicates get merged together, thus taking all of the answers into one single question. The argument not to merge, though, is that it makes it provides more meat for search engines to index which leads to better search results. For this reason duplicates are often/usually left where they are when there are answers on both.

The links at the top of the closed-as-duplicate question will lead you to the other question, from a usability perspective.

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  • 1
    Also, the answer may not exactly match the question or could reference specifics in the question that don't relate to the question it was copied to, thus causing confusion. – Michael Todd Jan 22 '10 at 19:00
  • @Michael: good point – squillman Jan 22 '10 at 19:00

I think it would be better to merge the questions and answers, but to leave something of the original behind. I'd leave at least the title, and a link to the new, merged question.

I can imagine leaving the original question behind, as well.

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Moderators can merge duplicate question. But this is done rarely, because in most cases

  • the answers on the new question duplicate the already-existing answers on the old question;
  • the answers on the new question don't work on the old question without heavy adaptation (changing examples, inverting the direction of yes/no questions, renaming variables, etc.).

If you see a question that it would make sense to merge (has new, interesting answers that would make sense on the old question), flag it to request the merge. Since it's all-or-nothing, if there's one fresh answer with lots of answers not worth keeping, suggest to the author of that answer that they repost instead. If the answers don't exactly make sense on the old question but are nonetheless interesting, edit them to fit the old question before flagging for migration.

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On discover of a duplicate I propose...

  1. Automatic moval of answers to duplicate question to original question

  2. Precede each moved answer with quote of the actual question that was answered (in case the questions are slightly different, so the moved answers will make sense)

  3. Give option to vote to delete duplicate answers for moved answers

  4. Give option to undo all above stages if question turns out not to be a duplicate after all (perhaps give option to vote as incorrect merge)

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  • No, merging shouldn't be the default, because >99% of duplicates shouldn't be merged. – Gilles 'SO- stop being evil' Apr 25 '12 at 22:41
  • @Gilles If you read points 2 and 3 in my answer, you will see that they deal with the exact concerns that you raised in your answer. – Danny Apr 25 '12 at 22:44
  • No: you say that bad merges can be cleaned up, which I don't dispute. My point is that we'd end up having to clean up so many posts that it's far better to default to not merging. – Gilles 'SO- stop being evil' Apr 25 '12 at 22:47
  • @Gilles wouldn't adding a quote of the newer question prior to each merged answer solve that issue ("the answers on the new question don't work on the old question without heavy adaptation (changing examples, inverting the direction of yes/no questions, renaming variables, etc.)."). – Danny Apr 27 '12 at 13:16

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