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Within 15 seconds, we had the following two questions.

The former came first, and asks for the effects of 4 specific attributes. The latter came... latter... but asks about all item attributes. The latter, in being latter, got closed as a duplicate of the former.

There has been a case made for reopening it, on the grounds that it's not really the same because it is broader. But I don't particularly see the value in keeping two separate questions if, were the broader question to be properly and fully addressed, it would render the narrower question as a complete subset. This ultimately just reverses the direction of duplication in my eyes.

bwarner had a suggestion that we merge them and get the author of the other question to expand their question to touch on all the attributes. I'm leaning in this direction myself (it requires less extraneous action than it would to shuffle the closures from the current state), but I'm open to alternative suggestions.

What do people think? What should be done about this?

  • The second question seems to be getting an impressive number of views, even though it's closed and without answers. – Raven Dreamer Jun 24 '11 at 16:49
  • To add fuel to the fire, an anonymous user just made a suggested edit to include 5 more attributes(Vampire, Weakening, Withering, Momentum, Stagger) into the question body of the earlier question. Should we allow this or not? – Raven Dreamer Jun 28 '11 at 1:31
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Personally, Raven Dreamer has a point about the accepted answer being a bit of a drag on the older question.

There should only be one question, and Raven Dreamer's is the more comprehensive version. The older one should be closed as an exact duplicate of it: there is precedent that even though the close reason mentions time playing a factor into the closure, the more canonical of the two duplicates is the one that should stay open.

I don't see merging as a good solution, as the only answer on the older question doesn't address all the stats, so it wouldn't answer the new, comprehensive question. That is, merging only works well when both the answers and questions cover the exactly the same ground. In this case, they don't: one's a subset of the other.

However, I believe the intention is also to have some amount of duplication so people can find what they're looking for without having to click through to the duplicate once they're on the site. In that case, I'd say keep them both open, albeit with a better title on the earlier one ("What do these stats mean?" tells me nothing).

I personally think this option is bogus, as it opens the door to me asking about a different subset of stats, or asking about the same stats but in a different context, and if we're just going to ask about item attributes the tag is going to be really lame.

To wit, there's another question about price tags: is the value of an item also an item attribute? If so, should it be closed and merged as a duplicate, too?

Which brings me to the real problem with these item attribute questions: they're really soft, and they're likely to be completely explained when the game comes out tomorrow: either in the manual, or in the game's help files. They were only interesting in so far as the demo didn't explain the details of the game (because it's a demo). I can understand if something's tricky or not explained very well at all, but if it is the case that the standard attributes are explained clearly in game, why are we asking these questions in the first place?

Long story short, if we had one comprehensive version of the question, that'd be good. So I'd support taking Raven Dreamer's question, generalizing it even more, and closing the other question as a duplicate of it. I'd say we should just make the question community wiki too; this way we have one, collaboratively edited, canonical list of all the attributes.

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    With regards to keeping them both open, I completely agree that'd be a bogus option. If we have a comprehensive list of attributes that includes all such subsets, I think it's a waste of effort to address all such subsets. As for item attributes, I think that somewhat depends on two factors - the availability of this information, and the ease of access. If we have a single, simple-to-digest list of attributes and their effects, it can be a very useful tool to have that if the actual in-game help notes aren't nearly as convenient. – Grace Note Jun 20 '11 at 20:22
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    I'm thinking from the perspective of how I'd answer a question about weapons in Sora. Sure, you can access the full list of weapons and they describe them all in the game, but you have to do it in the weapon-equip screen, which only shows one at a time. An easily browsed bulleted list would make a pretty effective answer, though in this scenario it'd be tacked onto a question such as "What are the special effects of all the weapons?" moreso than "What are all the weapons?", if that makes any sense. – Grace Note Jun 20 '11 at 20:24
  • @Grace I think that makes sense: this might actually be a good use of community wiki, as I don't think any single person is going to be able to build a comprehensive list by themselves. – user3389 Jun 20 '11 at 20:28
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    +1, keeping the oldest is only the default when there is nothing else meaningful to distinguish them with. – Matthew Read Jun 20 '11 at 20:48
  • For that matter, while I could be missing something, I didn't see anything in the answers on the meta.SO post to which you linked that said "yes, keep duplicates." I have seen close, close/delete, and merge as options, and I personally prefer an option that leaves only one question myself. (I find it somewhat frustrating to click on related questions only to find that they're closed or deleted - I know there's a meta request about that somewhere too.) – Dave DuPlantis Jun 20 '11 at 23:12
  • @Dave Whoops, the second link was meant to link to Dr. Strangedupe: Or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying And Love Duplication, which, when combined with the first part of The Wikipedia of Long Tail Programming Questions make a pretty clear case for leaving some amount of duplication alone. – user3389 Jun 20 '11 at 23:19
  • @Dave Notably, from the latter, "For example, if a user asks, “What does the IP address 128.0.1.1/24 mean?” it’s OK to close that as a duplicate of a more general question like “What do IP addresses of the form a.b.c.d/e mean?” But it’s not OK to close it as a duplicate of a twenty-seven page guide to netmasks. That’s the moral equivalent of saying “RTFM.”" Us recreating the Dungeon Siege 3 help section and pointing all questions about attributes to it seems to fit with this. – user3389 Jun 20 '11 at 23:20
  • Ah, that makes more sense, Mark ... but I'm not sure I agree with Jeff's perspective. In principle, sure, you want to get people what they need without making them click through hoops, but can SE sites do that and not create situations where someone can copy and paste the same answer into X different questions? Ideally, what I'd like to see is for questions closed as duplicates to redirect to the "master" question, rather than presenting a page that says "click here to continue." (I'm thinking of Wikipedia as an example: "redirected from -page-". – Dave DuPlantis Jun 21 '11 at 0:20
  • @Dave Of course, I agree with you on this and mentioned I think the reasoning, at least in this case, is bogus: but I figured it was important to mention it nonetheless :) – user3389 Jun 21 '11 at 0:27
  • Definitely ... there will be people who will ask a duplicate question and then say "Jeff said it was OK", so we might as well discuss what he said in advance! – Dave DuPlantis Jun 21 '11 at 0:36
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I've been thinking a bit based on all of the answers here so far, and here's an idea I came up with.

The answer to spugsley's question explains the specified attributes, but also explicitly explains how to find out the effects of every attribute - via the help topics.

Which, as M'vy demonstrates, they appear to be in a very easy-to-browse and mostly comprehensive format. Raven notes that they are vague as far as exact mechanical numbers go, but part of me ponders whether going for the whole statistical analysis is biting off more than we can (or should) chew on a question about what the attributes simply are. As such, I think that trying to go for a complete list is either redundant with explaining the help topics, or too ambitious for us to embark on for this one question.

I'm not one who enjoys invalidating answers. So my suggestion is to amplify the existing answer with a screenshot of the help topics (ideally of one of the specified 4 attributes), then generalize the question such that it asks something along the lines of "How do I know what an attribute on an item does? I'm specifically interested in these 4 [...]". This keeps the answer still valid, focuses the attention of the answer onto the more generally useful component (and that which Raven initially sought), while still retaining the focus point that spugsley asked for, and got as an answer. It also serves to validate the direction of the current closure without significantly changing the target question such that one wonders why we didn't just bother to reverse the closure direction.

This hinges on the "Help Topics, hit ESC" is sufficient on answering Raven's question (which notes that documentation is absent, not necessarily that the help topics are insufficent). If that isn't sufficient, I think that Raven's question is able to be expanded past that, specifying all the fancy stats, without necessarily rendering spugsley's question as a duplicate after the reopening. I dunno. I'll have to play that scenario by ear.

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The only reason I requested a reopening is because the other question had an accepted answer and it did not appear as if the author would make their question broader. Narrow question and accepted answer, to me, means 'not likely to get more comprehensive answers'.

I do wonder what point there is to merge in the first place, however. The second question had no answers to merge, nor are the comments relevant to the question in the first place.

Edit: Looks like others are looking for more definite answers as well... (Tzenes approved it, but I'm not sure he's aware of this meta thread.) enter image description here

  • If we went the merge route, then it'd be a bit more for ceremony than for any mechanical benefit. Bells and whistles, 'n' all that. As for the author changing the question, I'm noting a distinct lack of anyone remotely suggesting that avenue to the author until I just commented today, so I wouldn't give up hope just yet. ♪ – Grace Note Jun 20 '11 at 18:12
  • @Grace - you've got a point there. In retrospect, it seems silly to assume the other author would have read the duplicate question to find bwarner's comment. – Raven Dreamer Jun 20 '11 at 18:15
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    I'm happy to change the question in order to broaden it. I had no idea this was such a debate. Sorry I didn't notice sooner! I'm at work right now but when I get home I'll rephrase the question and unaccept the answer in hopes that we can get a more comprehensive one. Let me know if there's anything else I should do. – spugsley Jun 20 '11 at 20:55
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    @spugsley No need to rush it yet. There's some thought pattern of doing it in other directions, so I'd give this discussion a bit before we take any action. I don't think we yet need any haste to resolve it. – Grace Note Jun 20 '11 at 21:01
  • @spugsley - well, I guess that settles it! It's as they say - hindsight is 20/20. – Raven Dreamer Jun 20 '11 at 21:03
  • @Grace Note - Sounds good to me. I'll keep track of the discussion and see where it goes before making a decision. – spugsley Jun 21 '11 at 1:21
  • @Raven Dreamer - indeed it is! I think broadening the question is a great idea. I originally didn't because I thought that some terms were self-explanatory, but in retrospect they may not be for some players. – spugsley Jun 21 '11 at 1:24
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I do not think that listing all the characteristics of dungeon siege III is very important.

Which brings me to the real problem with these item attribute questions: they're really soft, and they're likely to be completely explained when the game comes out tomorrow: either in the manual, or in the game's help files

All of this is indeed stated in the "help topic" in the game :

Statistics

The game itself does not provide any clear information on games mechanics, such as what is the damage equation regarding attack, bonus and armors etc... so I guess that pointing gamers to the help section is enough.

Maybe we can have one question change into : where do I find a Dungeon Siege II characteristic description ... : answer in the "Help topics" in game.

  • Okay, that shows what Chaos:Bloodletting does, but what does "a high chance" mean? – Raven Dreamer Jun 20 '11 at 21:02
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    Oh, boo. That Chaos Statistics is actually just a primer on how the Chaos attributes work, isn't it? And so "Statistics" not a special effect on the same lines as Fire, Ice, Lightning, and Poison... boo! – Grace Note Jun 20 '11 at 21:07
  • Oh man, this is what I was afraid of. While we'd hope people would add more detail (like what the exact probability is), I really don't have high hopes that people aren't going to copy and paste what's in the help topics, especially if we're trying for one giant, canonical list of attributes. – user3389 Jun 20 '11 at 21:27

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