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We need to define guidelines to merge questions. Who did merging on other sites before?

Which best practices we can apply here?

  • Who has the ability to merge questions? I don't recall seeing it in the Tools tab. – Walter Dec 28 '10 at 14:42
  • Just mods. We need guidelines to direct our actions. We do but you, community, define how to us should proceed. – Maniero Dec 28 '10 at 15:12
  • I understand now. Thanks. – Walter Dec 28 '10 at 15:42
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  • If a question is an exact duplicate (re-posted, cross-posted then migrated, etc.), merge without hesitation, moving answers to the older post.
  • If a user flags a question as an effective duplicate and requests a merge, consider whether both questions are fundamentally identical and answers to one will work just as well for either, and merge into the better-written question.
  • If two answers are exact duplicates, delete the newer answer after merging.
  • Delete all comments on the question itself that call it out as a duplicate of one of the now-merged questions.
  • If one of the questions was marked CW, force the question and all answers into CW-mode.
  • If answers quote portions of a merged question that are no longer relevant, leave comments for their authors suggesting a revision.

Moderators should be reluctant to merge without a request; however, if the questions are clearly identical (same wording / same user) or the moderator happens to be an expert on the subject matter and can confidently argue that the questions are the same, then they should be expected to act unilaterally.

Removing duplicate answers is important in terms of reducing noise, but for questions that are not yet marked CW it is doubly important as large numbers of redundant answers will risk forcing auto-CW on questions that otherwise do not need it.

Be a surgeon, not a butcher - it may be tempting to just wipe all comments on older Q&A, but resist the urge to do so unless they're clearly irrelevant ("possible duplicate", etc.); there's no revision history for comments, and zealous cleansing can lead to confusion.

  • Always the survive question/answer would be the older even when it came from other site? – Maniero Dec 28 '10 at 17:09
  • @bigown: if they're exact duplicates (right down to the same wording), then either it's the same user posting repeatedly, cross-posting, or a manual migration. So there's nothing unique to preserve... with the possible exception of the owner in cases where a 3rd party decided to "help out" the original author - choosing the older post is the safer choice then as it avoids possible issues with account association and/or plagiarism. – Shog9 Dec 28 '10 at 17:14
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    When the user is the same it's the ease part :-) The problem arises when the same answer (exact wording or almost, great quotes, books suggestion has lots of duplicated answers with different "authors"). We, PSE community, should keep our user answer or older answer. Who should be kept as "the author" in our site? I'm just poking to take a precise guideline. I wish other users are collaborating with this discussion. – Maniero Dec 28 '10 at 17:51
  • @bigown: why? Why give a P.SE user ownership of something they didn't write? The examples you cite are "poll" questions, and already tend to pick up duplicates with ease; the value is in the votes, not the author. An alternate example is a question I manually migrated early on - I have no particular interest in it, so why should I be given rights to it over someone who might actually care? – Shog9 Dec 28 '10 at 17:58
  • I didn't make me clear. I didn't propose to change the user, just choose one or another when the answer is exact duplicated. Your example is a different kind of question, it's almost impossible get two answers duplicated except if the answer was copied by author or plagiarized by 3rd party. I understood what you wrote. – Maniero Dec 28 '10 at 23:22
  • @bigown: right - my suggestion is that, when the user is irrelevant, choose the older answer. – Shog9 Dec 28 '10 at 23:42
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It seems to me that if you're going to close a question as being a duplicate, you should be willing to (in principle at least) merge its answers with the question it is a duplicate of. If it is sufficiently different that the answers are too different, then maybe its not a duplicate?

  • You're right but... this is a bit more complicated. Merge is ease when the new question is duplicated and has few answers. What I trying to stated here is about these questions coming from SO. They are duplicated when they land here, they are hard to merge and both has valuable content. It's an open issue yet how to deal with in a proper way. I don't wanna merge them until I get comfortable to do the best work. – Maniero Dec 29 '10 at 20:50
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see

http://blog.stackoverflow.com/2009/04/handling-duplicate-questions/

and

http://blog.stackoverflow.com/2010/06/improved-question-merging/

I’m not necessarily advocating deletion, either; we want some of these merge stub questions hanging around so people can find two “identical” questions that were asked in two totally different ways. The exact, perfect duplicate question, in my experience, is much more rare than people think.

  • I had seen the general guidelines on blog. – Maniero Dec 30 '10 at 15:00

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