4

Sometimes I run into merged posts asked by the same OP (so, nearly identical posts) which are then marked duplicates (the stub) from the canonical ones (the master). As a consequence of this process, the master question ends up having all the valid answers, and the stub question is cleared/emptied.

Examples of merged/duplicate questions asked by the same OP:

Should we delete merged questions (the stub) (i.e., adopt as a best-practice action, or at least as a guideline) in cases where merged questions are nearly identical and asked by the same OP so that the website is less cluttered?

4

In the answer to What is a "merged" question? it says:

If you believe a merge stub is no longer useful, flag it for moderator attention and ask for it to be deleted.

I think that is the way to proceed.

I do not think it matters whether a merged question (merge stub) has come from the same asker as its master. If a merge stub adds nothing of value to the site then it should be a candidate for deletion.

From your question it seems that @Mapperz has already deleted one such merge stub after you flagged it, and I agree with both your actions.


Since then I have processed a few flags for deleting merge stubs. The case for deleting them seems to not always be clear-cut so I find myself deleting most but not all in response to those flags. The best way to process them consistently may become clearer as more of them are processed.

3

This is not only about merged questions from same OP, but also about normal duplicates from same OP (i.e. self-duplicate questions).

The merged ones are a particular case because they are locked posts and hence, not qualified for automatic deletion, besides not being eligible for voting, etc.

This will almost happen because OP asks a question, then nobody answers it (or answer in a way OP is not satisfied), then OP asks the same question again instead of editing/improving the original one. Those posts are not useful to have around because as written by the same OP, stub and master have nearly the same wording/problem approach, and are not useful for broadening the search scope (and consequently finding the canonical answer). Moreover, keeping them around sends a confuse/incorrect message it is ok to re-ask instead of editing.

With that in mind I wrote a query in Stack Exchange Data Explorer (SEDE*) to find unanswered self-duplicates which outputs the list of stub posts:

The unanswered aspect is because we can flag redundant posts for moderator attention and ask them to be purged without worrying about answers being deleted. We can also downvote such questions (the ones which are note merged) and push them towards automatic deletion.

Right now (jan/2019), the query is outputting a little bit more than 200 duplicate stubs.


Update (apr/2019).

I have finished reviewing the list of questions returned by the query, and with help of our moderators the list now has 18 14 questions (unanswered duplicate stubs). Some of them are already awaiting for the automatic deletion scripts to act (mostly the ones with negative score). Other (borderline) posts there could also go with one or two more votes, if anyone is interested in reviewing them.

Here are my personal findings:

  • More than 90% of the unanswered self-duplicate stub list were just copies. OPs shouldn't have re-asked, but edited the original Q.
  • I'd suggest moderators when merging self-duplicates, to evaluate the usefulness of the stub, and if not useful, delete it upon merging.

There is an additional query which is very similar to the previous one, but it finds self-duplicates in which the stub question has answer(s), and the target question does not. In such cases, the way to proceed is to reverse the linking relationship (stub becomes target, and target becomes stub) and evaluate if the new stub can be deleted (not useful). Here is the query, which is returning now (apr/19) 10 stub questions:


I wrote another similar query, but it finds answered self-duplicates (with answers both in stub and target questions), so they would need to be evaluated if a merge would fit answers from both questions, and then, deleting the stub. The query is returning 112 candidates for review (apr/2019). This is more tricky and difficult to review/accomplish, so I will leave it here for future reference (maybe discuss about it in another GIS Meta post).

*SEDE is updated in a weekly basis.

  • 2
    Thank you for writing this query which from a quick look at the first question it returned looks to be very useful for identifying some question deletion candidates. – PolyGeo Jan 10 at 20:37

You must log in to answer this question.

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