Here's the question that triggered my asking this: Why does Turanga Leela and her family put their surname first?

I've included other examples at the end of my post. In those, there are answers to the closed question that provide information not included in the other question - and information that the other question never asks for, nor needs.

The asker already knows the information in the duplicate question listed: namely, that "Turanga" is the character's surname, and that some cultures put the surname first and the given name last. He is asking if there is any authoritative information on why, specifically, her family does put the surname first. An answer to this would include an episode where the character's family talks about coming from an area of the world where this the norm, or possibly something in the commentary on an episode.

This isn't about the specifics of the question, though. It's about the rationale given for why it should be closed as a duplicate.

A high rep user (Valorum) states this:

The issue (which I've now pointed out twice) is that if such a canonical answer existed, it would also be applicable to the existing dupe, would get added there and again render this question invalid

If I'm reading this right, then this means:

  • Question A deals with topic Q in a general fashion, and has some entirely satisfactory answers.
  • Question B deals with the same (or a closely-related) topic, but has a more specific point not currently covered by any of the answers to Question A.
  • Question A cannot be modified to include asking Question B without losing the point of Question A, and potentially invalidating existing answers.
  • Question B should be closed as a duplicate, resulting in the text: This question already has an answer here: and a link to Question A, which doesn't have an answer to Question B.

I understand Valorum's point - that any answer to Question B would answer Question A as well. However, since no answer currently answers Question B, it doesn't seem right to close B yet.

If B gets an answer, then the two questions would be dupes. However, since Question B would have a more specific answer, I would think Question A is the one that should be closed. This can't be done now, because there's no answer to Question B. And, I can't see anyone who might know the answer to Question B going and posting it as an answer to Question A; the current answers are adequate for that question.

Changing Question A so it asks Question B as well wouldn't work here: Question B is built on the answer to A, and would make the current answers seem pointless or invalid; it would certainly change the OP's intent.

Adding a bounty to Question A doesn't seem like a great solution either; again, the current answers to Question A are adequate for Question A, just not for Question B.

Perhaps the best solution really is to close Question B in every case; however, this seems likely to prevent a true answer to Question B from ever seeing the light of day.

Nothing currently seems to invite people to add answers to Question B under Question A, which might resolve this (those see my second additional question below, where an answer to Question B could legitimately be deleted from Question A as "not an answer").

Is there another solution?

Other questions I've found closed as duplicates, where the specific question is not answered in the duplicate. Neither is quite the same, as answers to the closed questions directly would not necessarily answer the duplicate question.

What Star Wars canon works relate to the time period between Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens?: All current canon works are listed. By default this would include works set in the timeframe requested, but none of the current answers include which works are set in which time frames. This could be added to the existing answers - but there's nothing in the original question that demands that it be added. And, several of the works listed do not take place in the specified timeframe (In particular, at least four of the comics series: Kanan the Last Padawan, Lando, Princess Leia, and Chewbacca).

Game of Thrones' real world inspiration: At the point the other question was selected as the one this question was a duplicate of, one answer referred to something other than the Wars of the Roses as a real-world inspiration. The answer under under this question itself provided more info. (Since then, two other answers provide much more general info regarding other real-world inspirations).

Note that, in this case, an answer that the American Civil War (for example) was an inspiration for the series could legitimately be deleted as "not an answer" to the other question, but would definitely be an answer to the closed question.

Currently, Martha's answer covers my personal feelings on the specific question I originally raised. However, it doesn't necessarily address the question in general. I've made a suggestion.

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    In this instance the OP has altered the question slightly. It's gone from a straight up dupe ("I don't like the answers so I've asked a new question that's broadly identical") to a more cleverly-worded dupe ("I don't like the answers so I've come up with a form of words that makes it seem less dupey") – Valorum Apr 4 '18 at 21:26
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    Perhaps the question we should be asking is "What's the point of there being two questions that basically ask for the same information. Does having two of them add or subtract from the value of the site?" – Valorum Apr 4 '18 at 21:28
  • You might also want to make this question less about the general principle and more about the specific question. (or vice versa, find other examples of this phenomenon and make it more general). – Valorum Apr 4 '18 at 21:34
  • With regards to the Star Wars example, it's a fuzzy line that was agreed on by meta consensus, which albeit strange in a few cases has proven useful more often than not. With regards to the Game of Thrones example, the dupe should probably have gone the other way (from the specific to the general) although given the answers on the current target that's been effectively made redundant. – Edlothiad Apr 5 '18 at 4:32
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    I'd just noticed the last paragraph. An answer stating the American Civil War as an example would not be deleted as it is an answer just a wrong answer, and we do not delete wrong answers. Any mod and @Skooba will tell you that. (Although in practice wrong/non-answers do sometimes slip through and get deleted) – Edlothiad Apr 5 '18 at 4:50
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    I appreciate that this was brought to meta. I feel that the explanation in the middle set of paragraphs is bang on here. I sort of gave up on it because it seemed that there wouldn't ever be a better answer than what were already on the first Q, even though as you say, if a better answer ever did surface that would apply to question B it wouldn't really belong on question A. – Octopus Apr 5 '18 at 8:21
  • @Edlothiad - If the question is "Is there a connection between Game of Thrones and The War of the Roses", then an answer stating "One of the inspirations for GOT was the American Civil War" would not be an answer to the question, to my understanding. That said, I don't pretend my understanding is perfect (hence, asking things in Meta!) – RDFozz Apr 5 '18 at 14:49
  • Welcome to the complexities of what is and isn’t an answer and when an answer or non-answer can be deleted. At this point it sometimes feels like if a user can collect users to help delete it will get deleted (or un-deleted) – Edlothiad Apr 5 '18 at 16:30
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    SFF meta consensus is summed up here, scifi.meta.stackexchange.com/a/9748/29220 a 29 upvote meta answer on SFF is practically law, helps it was a CM(the law) who posted it too. "Well, normally the presence of identical answers is a pretty good indication that the questions themselves are the same (unless the answer itself is something trivial like the name of a character). But this doesn't hold if a question has managed to attract a lot of different answers" is how identical answers dupe different questions – Himarm Apr 6 '18 at 17:24
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    @Himarm: Shog9 specifically said that identical answers are NOT, in and of themselves, an indication that different questions are duplicates. It only works the other way around: if you're pretty sure the questions are duplicates of each other, examining the answers can help confirm (or contradict!) this fact. – Martha Apr 6 '18 at 23:57
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    This question is now being discussed on meta. – Kevin Apr 7 '18 at 4:41
  • If any answer to Question B would answer Question A as well, but not vice versa - then close question A. – Mazura Apr 10 '18 at 0:06
  • @Mazura - You could close question A - but, if Question B does not have an answer to date, then you can't close Question A as a duplicate of Question B, I believe. – RDFozz Apr 10 '18 at 15:14

The fact that you have to go through such convoluted (il)logic in order to convince yourself that the questions are duplicates is actually a blazingly bright sign that


I know, I know, I'm bashing my head against a brick wall, but I keep thinking I see the beginning of a chink.

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    users who claim that those two questions are different are right, same way one claiming there is an infinite amount of diff nums between 0.1 - 0.2 would be right. No Q is an exact dupe of another. when i mark a Q a dupe i don't mean 'b is exactly the same as a' rather 'those two questions are similar enough, one of them should be closed'. as by our current standards a good answer should be supported by logical reasoning and the evidence provided needs to be relevant and sufficient. – user68762 Apr 6 '18 at 11:02
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    They're duplicates. An answer to one would be an answer to the other – Valorum Apr 6 '18 at 14:19
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    @Valorum: I know this is more futile head-bashing, but no matter how strongly you believe it or how often you repeat it, answers don't make questions into duplicates. – Martha Apr 6 '18 at 15:10
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    I think the real problem here is the labeling as "duplicate". Yes, often times, answers on other questions are applicable and cover the necessary information. In those instances, the message in the duplicate alert is correct: "this question already has an answer here", but that doesn't necessarily make the questions duplicates, even though the dupe alerts also claim they're "exact duplicates". – phantom42 Apr 6 '18 at 16:14
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    @Martha - If a substantial answer to question A can be moved unaltered to question B and answer it entirely, then what is the point of having two questions? – Valorum Apr 6 '18 at 17:39
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    "What is 3 * 4" is not a duplicate of "What is 6 * 2" just because they have exactly the same answer. – KutuluMike Apr 6 '18 at 17:54
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    @KutuluMike But they're both answered by the question "How do I multiply two positive, single-digit integers?", so how does that fit in? – user31178 Apr 6 '18 at 18:43
  • @Kutulumike - A one-word answer would not be substantial. – Valorum Apr 6 '18 at 19:16
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    @Valorum: between them, Wikipedia and Google have the answers to pretty much every question you can come up with, so what's the point of having this site? In other words, just because the answer to "what color is the sky" is contained somewhere in the 14-page essay that answers "why is the sky blue", does not make the latter a good answer to the former. Too much information is just as bad as not enough information. – Martha Apr 6 '18 at 22:00
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    @Martha That's only true because Google points to here for a great many questions ;) – user31178 Apr 7 '18 at 1:25
  • @Martha - We'd downvote that answer into hades and probably close it. Good answers should be substantial but should also have focus – Valorum Apr 7 '18 at 7:44
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    @Mazura: eh? I haven't the faintest idea what you're trying to say. Sorry. – Martha Apr 10 '18 at 1:44
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    What's your "[rationale for why it should be closed as a duplicate]" ? How would you "[handle questions that will be duplicates once answered]" ? Claiming that they're not duplicates sidesteps the question while not answering it. How will the information you provided here help solve future dilemmas? – Mazura Apr 10 '18 at 22:46
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    @Mazura, I have no illusions about my answer helping solve future dilemmas, because there's an entrenched cadre of users here who insist on closing questions at all costs, even if it's blindingly obvious that they're not the same question. But in an ideal world, people would stop themselves somewhere in their increasingly-illogical line of reasoning and say to themselves, "self, this is ridiculous; maybe these aren't duplicate questions after all". – Martha Apr 10 '18 at 23:06
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    @Mazura, "[Rationale for why it should be closed as a duplicate]" - um, it's patently obvious that I believe it SHOULDN'T be closed as a duplicate. Forcing me to answer that in any other way gets into "when did you stop beating your wife" territory. "[Handle questions that will be duplicates once answered]" - again, my answer makes it obvious that I believe there are no such questions. – Martha Apr 10 '18 at 23:15

I would hope to eventually see a solution similar to the following, in cases where the new question would be likely to cover answers to an existing question, but the existing question does not ask for the exact same thing as the new question:

Post a comment to the new question stating that, if it gets a definitive answer, the existing question should be reviewed, to determine if it should be closed as a duplicate.

Perhaps if a question sees the sort of back and forth warring between those who felt it was a duplicate, and those who felt it wasn't, that this one did, something like this could be a solution everyone could live with. Defer judgment until you see the sort of answers the question attracts.


My understanding is that OP doesn't like the answers to the dupe question because they lack canonical references. In this instance, rather than trying to find a clever way to re-ask the same question, the correct course of action would seem to be to raise a bounty with the reason;

Canonical answer required

The question is widely applicable to a large audience. A detailed canonical answer is required to address all the concerns.

This would encourage users to post a higher quality answer (with sources) to the original question, thus satisfying OP's desire for a better referenced answer and obviating his need to post a second question.

As it stands, if someone does manage find a 'canonical' answer to question B, they're almost certainly going to append it completely unchanged back to question A. This demonstrates that A is a clear duplicate of B, even if the current answers don't really address the finer point of the lack of references.

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    Sigh. The question under discussion is definitely not a great question, and seems really unlikely to have an answer other than "No, no one cared enough to develop a detailed genealogy for Leela" or "Over 1000 years, cultures can moosh together enough that anyone might use either 'surname first' or 'surname last', anywhere". The original question requires nothing from canon; it's probably asked out of ignorance of other cultures, and canon is irrelevant. "Why are so many people in Star Wars right-handed" would be an equivalent, in my mind. I will look for a more worthy example. – RDFozz Apr 4 '18 at 22:08
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    @RDFozz This is specifically one of the reasons bounties were created. We don't want duplicate questions on this site (and the system as a whole) and is why we close as dupes. In my mind there is no doubt that the questions are dupes, any answer to either question can be identical on the other and do fine. It is a duplicate before any answers and will stay one after answers. Just because the asker wants canonical evidence doesn't change that. – TheLethalCarrot Apr 5 '18 at 10:05
  • TL;DR: Bad answers don't change the fact the questions are dupes. – TheLethalCarrot Apr 5 '18 at 10:13
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    @RDFozz you even have a 'cannonical answer required' bountry category – user68762 Apr 5 '18 at 10:20
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    Question 1: "What's that color you see in the sky on sunny days between the clouds" (Answer: blue). Question 2: "Why is the sky blue?" The answer to Q2 could answer Q1 - but Q1 isn't asking for why. Once Q2 has a valid answer, then Q1 is a dupe of Q2, but Q2 isn't a dupe of Q1 unless someone posts the Q2 answer to Q1 (acceptable, but unnecessary for Q1). (Yes, I know they aren't SFF questions - I'm trying to illustrate a point here.) – RDFozz Apr 5 '18 at 15:00
  • @RDFozz This meta seems to agree with you. – Edlothiad Apr 5 '18 at 16:35
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    @RDFozz: the answer to Q2 is, at best, a very bad answer to Q1. It's the sort of answer that caused me to stop asking my dad to explain anything, because he'd always start his explanation at Adam & Eve, no matter how many times I told him I'm already past Noah. (Of course, 7 years after his death, I would love to have my dad overexplain something, anything, but I digress.) Or to use another, possibly more relevant analogy, it's like pointing someone at the Wikipedia article about English orthography when all they want to know is how to spell "weird". – Martha Apr 6 '18 at 22:10
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    @Martha - Single canonical answers are useful (see my answer about star wars canonicity) when, to the layman, what looks like multiple questions are in fact a single question asked in lots of different ways. That doesn't, however mean that we should strive for those kinds of answers where they'd be more confusing than enlightening. – Valorum Apr 7 '18 at 14:04
  • +1. This is the answer to the Q, in theory. Except it will seldom work in practice unless someone bounties every 'dupe' like this from now on. What if this next guy was a 1rep. How're they supposed to bounty it? This has been a dead end at SE for as long as I can remember. – Mazura Apr 9 '18 at 23:33
  • @TheLethalCarrot - "Just because the asker wants canonical evidence doesn't change that." Ok, how is someone that can't afford a bounty supposed to get that canonical evidence, now that someone stole 'firsties' on the Q? Edit the original question? That's a slippery slope. And a somewhat useless endeavor if the OP-OP has quit SE and there'll never be a green check mark where it should be. – Mazura Apr 9 '18 at 23:47
  • What ever happened to closing the old one as a dupe, as soon as someone asks the same question but supersedes the criteria of the first one? Do neither of these questions supersede each other? Then they're dupes (but only now that one of them has a bounty, IMO). Make one supersede the other, and dupe the former. Whoever is around to participate gets the cookies. – Mazura Apr 9 '18 at 23:53
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    @Mazurka - If they can't afford a bounty, they should participate for a few hours and then they get to influence the site. – Valorum Apr 10 '18 at 6:47
  • @Mazura As Valorum says it doesn't take long to earn the reputation to be able to bounty. Also a "flaw" in the whole SE system doesn't mean you can break the rules to how you see fit. We also close older questions to newer ones quite a lot but that usually happens if the dupe has gone unnoticed and is actually the better of the two. – TheLethalCarrot Apr 10 '18 at 8:11

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