My first thought would be the newer question is merged into the older one, which has had more time to gather bookmarks and search engine rankings, and it is the second question that is at fault.

Perhaps, however, things are done based not on age, but perhaps on votes and answers.

I recently, however, had a question with several good answers merged into a question that is a) newer, and b) seems to have no merit to itself at all.

How is it decided which question is to be marked closed, and which is to be left to prosper?

3 Answers 3


Duplicates should be merged in whichever way requires the least effort to consolidate good answers between the two.

For example, If a newer dupe has one excellent answer, and the older dupe has a bunch of redundant info split between five answers, it's probably easier to close the older one (and copy the best bits to the newer one).

Speaking for myself, I sometimes flag for moderator attention and recommend merging when I see the opportunity to make a canonical question. I don't give any priority to the age of either question. One is always clearer, that's the one to keep.

  • So if the older question had several answers, and the newer none, as well as being better written, you would keep the older one? *This is about a specific case now. Jan 24, 2013 at 0:05
  • @LewisGoddard Older or newer should make no difference here. All content is published under a Creative Commons licence, so you have already accepted that your contributions will be remixed/edited/etc. How exactly this gets carried out is left to the moderators (who we voted for). They make their own subjective decisions about what to do. Does that help explain it better? If no, you need to post a new question focussing on the specific question you have an issue with. Jan 24, 2013 at 10:57

The question you merge into is also the one that will keep the accepted answer mark.

This can be an important fact when choosing the merge direction.


Downsides of Current Duplicates Policy

The downside of this policy of judgement as to which questions and answers are more clear (as opposed to a simple rule of priority based on first question posted) is that it encourages AU members to write new, better, and redundant questions and answers rather than encouraging AU members to usefully edit and improve questions and answers that already exist. This adds new site content and clutter rather than trimming redundant questions and improving already existing content.

Potential Solution

I note that when a user clicks on "Ask Question" and enters text in the "Title" bar, AU offers them an opportunity to view questions related to their question Title ("Questions that may already have your answer").

  • Why not offer the same opportunity to the Answerer who clicks in the "Your Answer" box?

As an explicit opportunity (and request), this may change Answerers behavior. However, to really change behavior:

  • Why not adjust the Reputation Points structure to reward Answerers who find and improve content that already exists rather than creating (better) dupes?

The Answerer is then explicitly faced with possible duplicates and given an incentive to point the Asker to that dupe while cleaning up the dupe's Question and Answer to clarify, edit, and improve them so that future Askers don't create needless duplicates.

Reasons for Proposed Solution

  1. It is the Answerer who likely understands the question, answer, and where this question fits into the Ubuntu question/answer space better than the Asker, likely has more experience on AU, and thus has a greater probability of realizing this new question is a dupe. Thus, AU should focus on Answerers' opportunities to identify dupes at least as much as Askers'.
  2. It's possible this may decrease burden on moderators who will deal with less Duplicate Duties in terms of judgement, merging, and ultimately removal as Answerers do more Duplicate Duties.
  3. It's possible this may channel user and moderator energy toward refining current content into a systematic, coherent, and comprehensive site in terms of style and content that answers AU's 'How do I use Ubuntu' core questions rather than adding new site content and increasing site clutter.

PS- If this should be its own new, meta-question, my apologies.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .