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I'm sure most (if not all) users of the last week or so has seen this question: Clothing store access in Pokémon X & Y. If not, here's the history:

  • There was an initial issue with the amount of spoiler markup the OP had used. The question was edited, but the comments remain (I'll come back to this)
  • After quickly gaining a lot of views, the question started gathering a lot of 'this worked for me', 'no that's wrong, this is what works' style answers, most from 'one time' or anonymous users. No authoritative answer, just heresay and speculation. A lot of these answers are duplicates, or repeat information (again, I'll come back to this)
  • Oak protects the question to stem the tide
  • iber answers with an authoritative answer, complete with source, which is promptly upvoted & marked as accepted

Now, I flag the question, with the comment:

It (finally) has a decent, authoritative answer. can we clean up the dupe answers and the comments on the question (about spoiler markup etc)?

Which gets declined with the reasoning:

flag individually for each one you think should be removed

So I flag one of the answers. There's no 'duplicate' flag reason for answers, so I again flag for mod attention and say:

Duplicate of Roxy Lalonde's answer

which, again, gets declined with

flags should only be used to make moderators aware of content that requires their intervention

Ok no problem, so what do I do now?. The comments about /spoiler markup weren't purged, None of the dupe speculation answers have been removed (that I can see, a 10k user may state otherwise), and I've got two conflicting decline messages (I'm guessing from separate mods).


To summarise, this isn't the first question that has attracted duplicate, speculative answers and it certainly won't be the last. So my questions are:

  • In general, how should I be treating duplicate answers?
  • In this case, Should I instead be flagging these answers as 'low-quality', as they are mainly speculative?
  • What classifies as "content that requires [mod] intervention?
5

I "answered" the first flag with flag individually for each one you think should be removed (we cannot enter a custom text unless we decline them), and the other declined one was indeed from another mod but, FWIW, it's a canned response we have available -- that particular answer may not need to be removed.

My initial message was for you (and/or other users) to help us clean the question and not leave the task of unilaterally decide which answers to remove only to us.

That doesn't mean that all the other answers need to be removed, perhaps some do and some don't.

(This doesn't answer your post fully but it was too long for a comment, I may edit later)

2

I declined your second flag. I've actually been declining the vast majority of 'duplicate answer' flags I've handled, because "these two answers say the same thing" is IMHO not enough to warrant action.

What we don't want is crap. What we do want is correct, good, readable information for our readers. When you see the "same" answer voted +21 and -4, with wrong answers in the middle, that sends mixed signals. It's far better to have an answer posted at +21 and a bunch of "duplicate", not as good answers at about +1/-1, above answers that are actually wrong. This lets you present a more coherent picture while still delivering the point that quality answers is how you get ALL the points.

Moreover, duplicate answers almost never add noting to a question. If you come to the site with an incorrect preconception of what the answer is, SCIENCE says that your brain will only give correct answers about one third of the weight you'd give to a won't answer that resonates with your beliefs. Duplicate answers can help top you over the threshold and make you change your idea.

If an answer is crap, we probably don't want it regardless of its content or order of arrival on the site.

Please flag crap answers, no matter how unique. Please don't flag duplicate answers. That post didn't look to me like deletion-worthy crap, sorry.

  • 3
    I really think dupe answers should be got rid of myself :/ – shanodin Oct 19 '13 at 11:54
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    @shanodin Yes, but why? – badp Oct 19 '13 at 12:48
  • +1, bluemod. I concur. – Raven Dreamer Oct 19 '13 at 19:13
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    IMHO, duplicating an answer is not the right way of agreeing/affirming an answer- that's what upvotes are for. I'd rather see 2 answers with differing opinions, with a slew of votes each (up or down) than 6-7 answers, all exactly the same, some with upvotes, some down. It doesn't send the right message - SE is all about authoritative, one source of truth answers. And as glacticninja points out, the consensus is to delete dupes that add nothing new. – Robotnik Oct 20 '13 at 3:17
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    @Robotnik If answer A says something and answer B says the exact same thing but a million times better and with graphs and charts and science and what not, are you going to downvote answer B for not saying anything new? – badp Oct 20 '13 at 9:08
  • @badp - if B was that radically different, then it is not a duplicate. In that case we are given a quick, low quality answer by A, and a thorough authoritative answer by B. If I were to do anything it would be to upvote B, and either leave A, or flag as low quality. In this case, we have A & B saying "do x,y and z" and that's it. – Robotnik Oct 20 '13 at 9:23
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    @Robotnik It's not. B says everything A says, or even less things, but the exposition, the explanation, etc. are just better. Do you still want to delete B for being a duplicate? Is this not a problem of quality, rather than just mere duplication? – badp Oct 20 '13 at 10:52
  • @badp - I'll say again: B, in being a better quality answer, is by definition not a duplicate. How could B be a duplicate of A, if the answer is 'better'? The fact that there is a 'better' answer means they cannot be duplicates, otherwise one answer wouild not be better. However In some of the answers on this question, they say the same thing. One is not better than the other. Theres No science, no graphs or explanation to differentiate them. therefore, they are duplicates. – Robotnik Oct 20 '13 at 11:15
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    @Robotnik That's a definition of "duplicate" I was not previously aware of. – badp Oct 20 '13 at 12:30
  • A != B, where B = A+1, in math terms – Robotnik Oct 20 '13 at 12:41
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Bad answers are still answers. Often that will save them from mod deletion, because technically being bad doesn't make it "not an answer" and often a bad question won't be removed if flagged as such.

The question might be improved by removing them, but we already have a tool at hand to disappear bad answers that may or may not eventually get deleted: viciously downvoting them.

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