What is the need to keep questions which were closed because they were duplicates? Why aren't these questions deleted? Do these questions provide some useful information even if the question is a copy of another question?

  • I think the case would be stronger if it was aimed at deleting close as off-topic, not a real question or subjective/argumentative. – Ivo Flipse Jan 22 '11 at 10:17

Because the closed question...

  • may have better wording
  • may be a frequently-searched term
  • may have a better description
  • may produce more answers (before it is closed) that can be merged with the original question.

and thus acts like a bookmark to the first question. This way, we have less duplicates, in theory anyway.

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  • What about questions like this which has no comments or answers meta.stackexchange.com/questions/46406/… – subanki Jan 11 '11 at 4:15
  • @subanki: the closed question acts as a 'synonym' title for the original question. As you can see, the original question has a lot of discussion that would sufficiently answer that duplicate's question... – studiohack Jan 11 '11 at 4:18
  • @subanki: see this question on SU: superuser.com/questions/220288/… - I asked this question, it turns out that it was a dupe, but it was a better written title, and attracted some good answers. Thus, I requested that the answers be merged with the original. – studiohack Jan 11 '11 at 4:25
  • You have a point there. But what if there are more than four to five dupes. (I am unable to find a question like that but I am sure I have seen it somewhere in SU or SO) – subanki Jan 11 '11 at 4:32
  • @subanki: then perhaps they should be deleted... – studiohack Jan 11 '11 at 4:33

Jeff wrote about this exact issue at length in his blog post Dr. Strangedupe: Or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying And Love Duplication:

One thing I want to be clear about, though, is that duplication is not necessarily bad. Quite the contrary — some duplication is desirable. There’s often benefit to having multiple subtle variants of a question around, as people tend to ask and search using completely different words, and the better our coverage, the better odds people can find the answer they’re looking for. And isn’t that, really, the whole point of this exercise?

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There are no incentives coming from the Stack Overflow system to do janitorial tasks like deleting questions. It can even be argued that they are made artificially hard and unrewarding through all kinds of restrictions. Naturally this causes people to stop doing these tasks.

In the case of deleting of questions, the process has been made tedious and ineffective, so nobody is doing it anymore.

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  • If duplicate's are not deleted, wouldn't they be losing their valuable server space. – subanki Jan 11 '11 at 5:12
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    @subanki: Server space isn't very valuable and you can store millions of questions in a few gigabyte. Also "deleting" really only means "set some flag in the database so that the question normally isn't displayed". – sth Jan 11 '11 at 5:16
  • @sth What is the use of keeping them flagged if they are not to be displayed in any website? – subanki Jan 11 '11 at 5:18
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    @subanki: If it's later decided that deleting was a mistake, the question can be undeleted. For that, users with >10k reputation can see deleted question and vote to undelete if they disagree with the deletion. Also for moderators it might be useful to see everything a user posted, even if it got deleted. – sth Jan 11 '11 at 5:24
  • @sth Is there any question which has been un-deleted. And what about those old un-deleted questions (questions like 4 or 5 years old). What useful information would they get by tracking a user ? – subanki Jan 11 '11 at 5:32
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    @subanki: For example this questions has recently been undeleted (see revision history). There are probably only very few questions that get undeleted after years, if any. – sth Jan 11 '11 at 5:51

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