Firstly, I have read the arguments here.

I have asked this question: Are there any specific examples in Lord of the Rings that are influenced by the WWII? and it was marked as duplicate and I was directed to the answer of How much did Tolkien write about the connection between WWI and his work?.

It is very obvious that my question asks for influences from WWII in LotR, while the question that supposedly holds the answer to my question asks the influences from WWI. Examining the given answer, the available information about WWII was

  • And while World War I was "his war"' so to speak, and had a far more personal impact on his thinking, he wrote Lord of the Rings during the dark days of World War II. His son fought in the war, and it would have been impossible for any Brit living at the time to avoid being seriously affected by the conflict, especially with German bombers flying overhead. So he clearly inserted elements of his own wartime service, and the general experience of WWII, into his writing.

  • National Geographic - INFLUENCES ON THE LORD OF THE RINGS World War I and World War II http://www.nationalgeographic.com/ngbeyond/rings/influences.html

The given link only states that

"An author cannot of course remain wholly unaffected by his experience," Tolkien acknowledged, but he strongly denied that his story was an allegory for World War I or II.*"

As a result, the linked answer carries traces of information which can be incorporated to an answer to my question without proper sourcing.

Moreover, without answering this question, two helpful users offered extra information that was not presented in the linked answer in comments. @ibid suggested me to look at the actual foreword, and @wcullen suggested me this page. Although the second link is definitely not canon, actual foreword is. Again, the foreword is used in the linked answer, however it was quoted once at an unrelated excerpt.

My first question is, if you were to ask the influences of WWII on LotR before the question on influences of WWI on LotR, would you be satisfied with this content?

Before asking this question, I went through questions asked in the last three months of meta. A good deal of questions in the meta are about questions that were marked as duplicate. For some questions, there is obviously not a consensus whether it is duplicate or not.

The current duplicate policy suggests the marking of different questions with the same answer as duplicate. This interpretation is definitely subjective and requires intense workload of the close-voters. If the close-voter do not examine the dupe-target in detail, they may erroneously vote close.

Furthermore, if an event A has three implicit and not obvious causes X, Y, Z, questions asking "What did X lead to?" and "What did Y lead to?" should be marked as duplicate. Similarly, if an event B leads to three implicit and not obvious results P, Q, R, "Why did P happen?" and "Why did Q happen?" are duplicate as well. This marking process prevents users who might wish to offer detailed insight on the other questions from doing so.

I have been here active for some time here. My questions has been marked duplicate, off-topic and primarily opinion based before, and they kind of were. However, I did not notice the extent of duplicate rule simply because it was not enforced. Some question that might have been marked duplicate are:

1, 2 and 3

4, 5 and 15

6 and 7

8, 9 and 11

10, 12, 13 and 14

For the sake of my time, I stop searching for possible duplicates. However, the subjectivity of duplication rules sometimes work against the community and prevent better and/or more related answers to the duplicates due to sharing a portion of the answer.

So, why do we keep a system that we know is subjective and open to errors? Why should having questions of similar but definitely different nature be avoided simply because they have similar answers?

EDIT: Checking the meta SE, we can see that

There's only one problem with your feature request: answers don't make questions duplicates. Questions are duplicates only when the questions themselves are duplicates. In other words, you can't close a question as a duplicate of another question just because "you can find your answer over here."

So, claiming a question is duplicate because of an extended answer given to a related but different question does not make it duplicate. This practice is against the general SE principles.

  • 8
    @Valorum What is the alternative? Keeping separate but related questions both open so users can elaborate on whichever question they wish? Specifically asking about my question which you marked as duplicate, if I were to answer WWII influences in the dupe-target, would my answer be considered related? If someone wants to offer WWII influences in detail, should they go and answer the dupe-target which is clearly on WWI influences?
    – user65648
    Oct 30, 2017 at 1:35
  • 9
    How come WWII influences and WWI influences are duplicate?
    – user65648
    Oct 30, 2017 at 1:38
  • 2
    Because, as has been pointed out to you repeatedly, although the main question asked about influences from WWI, several of the answers also addressed the wider issue of influences from WWII and Tokien's use of allegory in general. At this point we could, theoretically change the existing main question to ask "Was Tolkien influenced by his experience of war?" without invalidating any of the answers.
    – Valorum
    Oct 30, 2017 at 1:41
  • 2
    We have our own policies on what constitutes a dupe that don't rely on (poorly voted) questions on the main meta.
    – Valorum
    Oct 30, 2017 at 1:46
  • 4
    They can, if the answer is comprehensive enough. Oct 30, 2017 at 1:47
  • 1
    @TimE.Lord However answer comprehensiveness is subjective. The suggested answer does not offer insight on the most canon source, the foreword of the LotR by Tolkien himself.
    – user65648
    Oct 30, 2017 at 1:50
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    If you feel that the current answers are not comprehensive enough, feel free to offer up a bounty requesting 'additional information' or the 'use of authoritative sources'. Refrain from asking a question which is only marginally different to existing ones, especially if the difference is only a technical one.
    – Möoz
    Oct 30, 2017 at 2:22
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    @Möoz I really cannot understand. To learn more about possible WWII influences in LotR, I should offer bounty to WWI influences question or ask for extra information from people that answered a question on WWI influences? If you believe there is a possible room for improvement for WWII question through requesting additional information or through a bounty on WWI question, why do you mark it as duplicate? Are difference between WWII and WWI influences on scifi works a technical difference or only marginally different?
    – user65648
    Oct 30, 2017 at 2:22
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    @C.Koca My point is, why are you trying to make WWI and WWII different cases? Was Tolkien influenced by wars and which affected him more than the other is perfectly fine in the one post. No need to separate them.
    – Möoz
    Oct 30, 2017 at 2:23
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    @Möoz I do it because WWI and WWII are different cases. The reason for duplication here is that the answer to a totally different question contains partial answer to my question. People marked it duplicate because they felt the partial answer to the different question is comprehensive enough, even though I showed that there is a room for improvement. There might even be further room for improvement.
    – user65648
    Oct 30, 2017 at 2:27
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    @Möoz You're suggesting a bounty on a question about WWI connections to say "please give me a detailed analysis of WWII connections"? Seems like a pretty odd thing to do - if someone did that, I'd wonder why they were hijacking a WWI question to get answers about WWII rather than just asking a new question.
    – Rand al'Thor Mod
    Oct 30, 2017 at 10:26
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    This site's practice of marking different questions as duplicate just because if you squint just right and do some research of your own you might find half an answer on the older question is (1) insane, (2) stupid as hell, and (3) against SE policy. Your question is a perfect illustration of just how moronic the practice is. The two questions are 100% NOT duplicates, unless you subscribe to some very twisted version of history where WWI and WWII were the same thing.
    – Martha
    Oct 31, 2017 at 1:58
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    @Martha Thank you for your support. If I have understood correctly, duplication policy on this site is not really different than that of SE's. However some users believe they have a right to disregard to existing policy completely. They do so even properly checking the dupe-target which makes me believe the late close-voters simply close-vote because of their trust in the early close-voters.
    – user65648
    Oct 31, 2017 at 12:52
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    @C.Koca: the issue is that this site's ridiculous duplicate practices used to be, not very long ago, this site's ridiculous duplicate policies, and there are (high-rep) users who refuse to follow/learn the new policies. And then, yes, there are people who go through the review queues without engaging their brain, who are thus misled by that first ridiculous close-vote.
    – Martha
    Oct 31, 2017 at 16:31
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    FWIW, the practice of closing non-dupe questions as dupes is a major reason why I now rarely contribute. It's extremely unhelpful to users who are just looking for an answer and just doesn't make sense. As a contributor, it just gave me the sense moderation had been captured by a bureaucratic cabal, like you see in other communities. I personally vote to reopen whenever I see a question closed simply because an answer somehow somewhere sorta answers it in passing.
    – Shamshiel
    Nov 25, 2017 at 16:45

1 Answer 1


On our general policy

This site's current (most recent) policy on duplication, and specifically on whether or not answers can make questions duplicates, may be found here (emphasis mine):

To avoid looking silly then, I would strongly recommend using answers as more of a litmus test than as a policy: if you're already pretty sure the questions are duplicates, testing the answers of one against the other can easily confirm your suspicions. But don't close completely irrelevant questions as duplicates of one another simply because there's an animated gif that happens to apply to both...

In other words, duplication is mostly about questions, with answers being only a secondary concern. Conversely, questions can be duplicates (asking the same thing) even if neither of them has a good answer.

Thinking about the purpose of the policy, rather than just blindly applying the rules ...

  • It makes sense on some level to close question A as a duplicate of related question B if the latter has answers which satisfactorily address question A. The duplicate banner, after all, does say "This question already has an answer here".
  • Duplication is also valid when the answers to B don't address A but the questions are identical - this means that a good answer to B (even if there are none yet) would address A, so answering A itself would be redundant.
  • Duplication doesn't make sense if the questions are different and it's unreasonable to expect any good answer to B to fully address A as well, even if the answers to B may tangentially address A in passing. (I believe this is the situation being alluded to by the "animated gif" reference.)

On your concerns about "intensive workload"

There are enough users with the 3k reputation required to vote to close - 405 at the time of writing, of whom at least a couple of hundred must be still active on the site - that I don't think "intensive workload" is an issue. If you feel that a question should (or shouldn't) be a duplicate, you can vote to close (or reopen) it yourself, which will send it into the review queues to be voted on by the community.

Also, consistency is a worthy goal but often an unattainable one. It would be great to have a clear enough duplicate policy that you could never point to two differently-treated questions and say "this one was closed, so that one should have been too!" But in reality, this will probably never happen. We should try to be consistent, but not get too dismayed if we aren't perfectly consistent.

I haven't read all the 14 questions you linked to as possible duplicates. Perhaps some of them should indeed be closed. Perhaps they will be as a result of this meta post. I trust in the community to review and vote on them as needed.

On your specific question

The older question asks specifically about WWI, and the answers mostly address that, with the occasional remark which is either related to WWII or is more general and could apply to either.

  • Is your question satisfactorily answered by these remarks in the answers to the older question? Nope. As you note, much has been written about connections between Tolkien's writing and WWII, and very little of it is included in those answers.
  • Is it reasonable to request answers to the older question including detailed analysis of yours? Not really. The standard response when the OP of a duplicate question says the answers to the older question aren't good enough is "well, wait for a better answer or set a bounty then". But in this case, setting a bounty on a question about WWI connections which would only be awarded to an answer containing detailed discussion of WWII connections seems like a pretty strange thing to do. "If you want answers about WWII, why not ask a separate question about WWII rather than trying to hijack this one about WWI?", I'd ask.

Also, at the time of writing, your question has 3 votes to reopen. It's not as if nobody agrees with you that it's not a duplicate.

  • 2
    Thank you for your detailed answer. I make my case that my question fits the third category, where duplication doesn't make sense. So you basically agreed that my question is wrongly marked as duplicate, however if I can't find two more people a perfectly valid question will be lost forever. Also, two users one with 305k rep and one with 25k rep explicitly disagreed with the duplication policy you just described and three people with 21k 26k and 8k reps backed them. I suspect this policy is not taken too seriously by some members of the community.
    – user65648
    Oct 30, 2017 at 13:06
  • Also, I mentioned the workload to suggest that if Question A contains partial answer to Question B, closer-voters should first detect the comprehensiveness of the answer in B and then check if there is room for improvement before voting duplicate. However, you already state that Question B containing partial answer to Question A does not make A duplicate, this part was became unnecessary.
    – user65648
    Oct 30, 2017 at 13:09
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    :) Given the occasional confusion, it might be worthwhile noting that story-identification is a slight outlier in that Duplication is based on the answers, not the questions, and does require acceptance, whether in-system or in comments.
    – FuzzyBoots
    Oct 31, 2017 at 11:30
  • To me, the case is very similar to this one; why can't we just have a comprehensive question, rather than two almost identical questions?
    – Möoz
    Nov 2, 2017 at 22:21
  • @Möoz If you want to ask a comprehensive question about war's influence on Tolkien, and get JB or someone to give a comprehensive answer, then yeah, I guess we could close both the existing questions as duplicates of that. (Even if it's lower-voted than them at first, traffic from the other questions should ensure it ends up on top.)
    – Rand al'Thor Mod
    Nov 3, 2017 at 10:21
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    @Randal'Thor A question on war's influence on Tolkien would indeed encompass both WWI and WWII influences as well as possible influences from Napoleonic wars, Habsburg-Ottoman wars, Crusades and any other war. Then we can move forward to ask about influences on Tolkien. Such a question would encompass all wars plus his childhood and his experience as a linguist. My point is, going for a comprehensive question might clear some space here but the answers would be of dissertation length and hard to follow. Many late but detailed answers would be lost at the bottom.
    – user65648
    Nov 4, 2017 at 11:06
  • To my way of thinking (and this seems supported by @Randal'Thor 's answer), if a search for prominent terms in one question can't find the duplicate, then it may not be a duplicate. That said, it's important to note that closing a question != deleting a question - it just shuts off any more answers to the one marked as a duplicate. I know that wasn't immediately clear to me. However, I'm not sure if actual removal of a question marked as a duplicate has to go through a community approval process.
    – RDFozz
    Nov 6, 2017 at 22:23

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