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What is the maximum number of O.W.L. classes you can take at Hogwarts?

This answer is not a direct dupe; it was posted before the answer was closed.

There is no conceivable way this should have been mod deleted.

The only thing I can think of is that this 1 answer made or breaks my gold badge in . Seems suspicious it should be deleted so I end up at 199/200.

We have 0 policies on closing answers to dupe questions, especially since my answer actually added additional info to the accepted answer that was tagged as a dupe.

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    "the only thing i can think of is that this 1 answer made or breaks my gold badge in harry potter." - When I read something like this, I just assume there's no massive conspiracy, and 99% of the time, I'm right. – Kevin Aug 19 '16 at 6:26
  • Never assume conspiracy where cockup will also explain what happened. – Valorum Aug 19 '16 at 7:39
  • my conspiracy theory mind runs wild after a few drinks, i dont honestly think rand is out to get me – Himarm Aug 19 '16 at 12:12
  • @phantom42 Thanks - I'm going through and merging some of those now. (Holding off on deleting any answers until these meta discussions are resolved, of course.) – Rand al'Thor Aug 19 '16 at 13:28
  • Not posting other answers after getting a dupehammer is very lazy tho – bleh Aug 19 '16 at 19:33
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According to the question's timeline, your answer was posted, accepted by the OP of the dupe question, received three upvotes and was then mod-deleted by site moderator Rand Al'Thor ♦

For more info on what happened (and why), see Rand's answer.

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EDIT: after further discussion with the other moderators, I have now undeleted your answer. Since you didn't VTC the question, there's no reason to believe you thought it was a duplicate when you answered; and since it now has 4 votes to reopen, its duplicate status isn't as clear as I'd originally thought. Apologies for the incorrect deletion.


Original answer follows.

Having noticed a large number of duplicate questions in the tag recently, I spent a while browsing through them to see whether any of them had been answered, and sometimes taking appropriate action if so.

  • In some cases such as this one, where the two questions were exactly identical and the duplicate had an answer that would be useful as an answer to the older question, I merged the duplicate with the older question so that its answer(s) were transferred.

  • In other cases, such as the one you raise here, the answer to the duplicate wouldn't have fit well as an answer to the original question or wouldn't have added substantially to the existing answers there, so (after consultation with other moderators) I deleted the answer. This is in line with what @AncientSwordRage♦ said a while back about a similar case: "Bad questions get closed and don't get answers". Of course duplicate questions aren't necessarily bad, but the same principle applies to answerers: if a question is a duplicate, VTC it instead of answering it.1

You have not been targeted, nor was this about robbing you of your gold tag badge (which would have been a futile exercise anyway, since you could always post another HP answer and get it back).


1 As a general rule, this maxim has at least one exception on SFF: questions, which must have an answer confirmed in order to be closed as duplicate. But that's not what we're dealing with here.

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    this action, though, appears to go against the advice given on meta.se that answers on duplicate questions are just fine and should be left alone. Especially if the answer includes new information not found in the original. If anything, the fact that the answer is 1) correct and 2) not applicable to the older question implies that it's not a duplicate at all. – KutuluMike Aug 19 '16 at 12:41
  • which my answer does, i specifically highlight the 12 classes issue which the OP is asking about, that isnt highlighted in the dupe. – Himarm Aug 19 '16 at 12:42
  • "Bad questions get closed and don't get answers," is, I think, more apropos as a statement on the value of closing questions than as a directive for deleting answers on questions one personally believes to be "bad." There's also the matter of duplicate questions not even being bad questions a priori, of course. Network ethos is that they are actually encouraged, though of course an individual duplicate can be a bad question. – Adamant Aug 19 '16 at 12:46
  • There's a discussion here about what the best policy on such answers is. – Adamant Aug 19 '16 at 12:47
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    So are you going to be going through the other 1245 duplicate questions and start deleting answers? – phantom42 Aug 19 '16 at 12:48
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    "bad questions don't get answers" then why do we have a badge specifically for that? – phantom42 Aug 19 '16 at 12:51
  • @Adamant Indeed; I did mention that duplicate questions aren't necessarily 'bad' in the same sense as other closed questions (e.g. they should stick around on the site rather than being cleaned up by the roomba). The same reasoning applies to answering them though: better to VTC rather than answering for the repz ;-) And yes, I've seen your policy question and am discussing with the other mods how/whether to answer it. – Rand al'Thor Aug 19 '16 at 12:52
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    @Randal'Thor - Yes, we should definitely discourage people from answering questions that they know to be duplicates. Whether that means deleting answers to duplicate questions...well, I suppose that depends on how the Meta consensus turns out. – Adamant Aug 19 '16 at 12:54
  • @Adamant How else can we discourage people? "Please don't do it, but you'll get rep and badges if you do"? :-) – Rand al'Thor Aug 19 '16 at 12:56
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    let me just reference everyone to the help center scifi.stackexchange.com/help/deleted-answers – Himarm Aug 19 '16 at 13:00
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    Downvote their answer if you think it was written specifically to rep-whore. But you don't always necessarily know if the user believes it is legitimately not a dupe and is choosing to legitimately answer it. (If the user VTC's and then writes an answer, you can reasonably assume they are answering solely for rep.) – phantom42 Aug 19 '16 at 13:00
  • If God - uh, Shog9 - wanted duplicate questions not to have answers, he would have given them autodeletion scripts. – Adamant Aug 19 '16 at 13:02
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    That is to say, there is a reason there is no site or network policy advising us to do this. – Adamant Aug 19 '16 at 13:04
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    @Randal'Thor While you (and the other mods) are obviously encourage to provide your opinion, IMO this is not a case where you guys just get to "decide what to do." This is a "new policy" you have unilaterally created, that did not exist before and does not exist on any other stack. The purpose of moderators is not to make policy, it's to enforce the policy decided by the community – KutuluMike Aug 19 '16 at 13:56
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    I heartily disagree. It's not for the mods to arbitrarily delete answers, for the reasons listed in my answer above; dupe votes aren't permanently binding and dupe answers may still contain useful info. This action, regardless of whether it involved consultation with other mods is just plain wrong. – Valorum Aug 19 '16 at 14:44

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