From Duplicate Questions: A Trial

The broad rule is: Do not close questions as duplicates if the target question does not help the new asker.

I understand that there is split opinion for support for this trial, and that is not what this discussion is really about. My concern is the aftermath of questions that become re-opened by request of the user.

In the link above you will find some examples of questions that have been marked as duplicates and then re-opened. For some re-opened questions you will find that an answer is provided and can justify that the two linked questions are in fact unique questions.

For other questions I can see the following process:

  1. A question is marked as a duplicate (because, word for word, it has already been asked directly or indirectly via another question)
  2. The OP says the answers do not help so it is reopened by way of this new trial
  3. An answer is provided

In terms of the What is the "regional Pokemon" for south America? question specifically (and I am sure there will be others like this) the answer to the new question can be incorporated into the original question.

At this point (assuming the original question has an updated and/or new answer) we can now mark the new question as a duplicate.

The overall outcome is we have a duplicate question, and an update to the original question's answer.

This may have occurred previous to the trial, but probably not without a meta saying the answer doesn't help, possibly a bounty on the original question and possibly some extensive comment/chat within the original or duplicate question.

Is this outcome the intention of the trial? I didn't see this specifically addressed in the above meta link or here: Duplicate Questions: A New Look

If this is intentional it would be beneficial to detail the expected process a little further than the "vote to re-open" stage. I could be wrong, but I believe that some people who prefer the old system may foresee questions that have been re-opened staying open (when all that was really needed was a better answer to the original question).

  • Are you suggesting adding the new content (SA has same Pokemon as NA) into the existing answer for the 1st question, or adding a new answer?
    – DCShannon
    Sep 23, 2016 at 21:17
  • @DCShannon. I'm not suggesting either, this is more to do with the initial proposal. It wasn't clear if the intention was to then go back and close questions as duplicates once "lacking answers" were fixed.
    – user101016
    Sep 26, 2016 at 9:00

1 Answer 1


I see nothing wrong with the following flow:

  1. A new question is asked.
  2. Another user notices a similar question. Either:

    • the similar question is linked in the comments, or:
    • the question is marked as a duplicate, and either the ensuing close vote is voted down, or the post is reopened per the trial.

    In both cases, there is now a link in the sidebar's linked section between the two posts.

  3. The new question is answered.
  4. Either a new answer is added to the old question, or the old question's accepted answer is updated, to reflect the new knowledge from step 3.
  5. The new question may now be marked as a duplicate of the old question.

In my opinion, we gain all the benefits at low cost:

  • A new user is not discouraged by their question being marked as duplicate without helping them. This can be greatly demoralising, especially if the new question is related to a newer patch than the older question, and hence the old answer is now irrelevant.
  • Attention is brought to the new post... because let's face it: chances are that the old question isn't going to get bountied.
  • We gain new knowledge, and update the original question with a better answer.
  • The two questions are now linked, and searching for one can lead to the other.

The advantage in my view to the old system is: in the old system, it was quite possible that a duplicate target may not be relevant at all now, because it's outdated. In this case, sometimes the old question would get bountied and so the answer would be updated to reflect the current state, but oftentimes the new question just gets closed, and we never update the old question.

That's not optimal. We shouldn't let bureaucracy get in the way of our primary goal, which is to help people. Allowing this system means we may have a bit more "janitorial" work, but in the end we should hopefully see an overall improvement in quality.

  • 1
    No, our primary goal is not to help people. That's never been what SE has been about. If it was, why do we delete new questions posted as answers? Or close questions at all? It's all about building a high quality repository of knowledge. Helping people is a side benefit.
    – Frank
    Sep 26, 2016 at 15:54
  • 3
    @Frank One of these days, I hope you'll listen when everyone tells you that the purpose of this site is to help people. But, again, a high quality repository of knowledge is useless without people to read it. Therefore, the purpose of a high quality repository is to help people. Therefore, building the repository is a means to an end, and that end is helping people. It's not a side benefit. It's the point.
    – DCShannon
    Sep 26, 2016 at 18:14
  • @DCShannon No, it's not. If you want to help people, go find a forum or something. If that was our purpose, we wouldn't be curating this to the degree we are. Yes, your primary purpose is to help people. That's fine. Mine is not, and neither is the platform's.
    – Frank
    Sep 26, 2016 at 18:15
  • 2
    @Frank What do you see as the purpose of this high quality repository of knowledge? Why build it?
    – DCShannon
    Sep 26, 2016 at 23:53
  • @DCShannon The purpose is to have a body of knowledge that is useful to people in the future. Like encyclopedias. Only in the very long term is it about helping people; the focus is on building that knowledge, and ignoring people entirely. It's all about leaving behind high quality content. Focusing on helping people aspect detracts from that mission, because it's such a short term focus. Better to get high quality content that withstands the test of time.
    – Frank
    Sep 26, 2016 at 23:57
  • 2
    @Frank Okay, that's more rational. What you were saying early was completely illogical. So, in your opinion, the purpose of the site is to help people, but it's to help hypothetical future people, not current site users. If that's the case, then you're actually agreeing with Schism, but insisting on different words. It appears to me that Schism also wants to help these future people by building a high-quality repository. So do I. The bureaucracy was getting in the way of that by producing non-useful duplicates.
    – DCShannon
    Sep 27, 2016 at 0:01
  • 1
    @DCShannon I disagree entirely with the duplicates being non-useful. We're deliberately allowing duplicates specifically because we're focusing on helping users short term, and exactly what I am so against. All we're doing is turning ourselves into another forum, where multiple questions asking the same thing are asked, making it harder and harder to actually find the information you're looking for.
    – Frank
    Sep 27, 2016 at 0:03
  • 1
    @Frank That's... not what's happening. We're not deliberately allowing duplicates. In situations where there's some reason to believe that an apparent duplicate might not be, we're making it easier to determine what exactly the missing information was, and then adding that to the site. The two questions are still linked, so there's issue of finding anything, and if we follow the workflow laid out in this answer, then we'll still end up with one of the questions marked as a duplicate. It's just that we'll also have the desired information in our repository, where as before we wouldn't have.
    – DCShannon
    Sep 27, 2016 at 15:57

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