As many of you can guess from the title, the mood of this question is frustration and desperation.

As a background, my question on why Nazgûl did not kill other hobbits on Weathertop is marked duplicate with another question asking why Nazgûl did not attack a second time on Weathertop. While the answers to both question includes the fact that Nazgûl were afraid of the barrow-blades and were reluctant to engage any further than necessary, they are clearly different questions. My question completely disregarded Frodo and the ring and focused on why Nazgûl did not bother to kill other hobbits. However, the duplicate question focuses on why Nazgûl did not attack a second time to get the Ring directly from Frodo.

Note that while the fear of barrow-blades constitute the main part of both answers, some additional information unrelated to other question may be included in the answers as well.

The duplication policy has been discussed extensively. This is a discussion I myself started on this issue. The consensus was that answers themselves do not make questions duplicate; they can only be used as a litmus test.

Even though I linked the above meta post and stated once again that answers do not make questions duplicate, two more people VTCed, showing that they deliberately VTCed in spite of the previous discussions on Meta.

From my point of view, closing a question as duplicate simply because it resembles another one is not helpful to the discussion. Had it been closed before, I would not have the chance to read the excellent answer Shamshiel provided.

Finally, the question is, why do some users with quite high reputation deliberately misuse their VTC privilege?

Addition: My comment under the question where I link the meta post is removed.

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    It seems pretty dupey to me. Both are variations on the theme "Why didn't the Nazgul do x after y at z" with the answers to the first one pretty comprehensively covering all of the bases. – Valorum Jul 9 at 6:07
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    I have to say they don't look like duplicates to me. Similar sure, but different enough for me. – Daft Jul 9 at 8:09
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    To be honest even from the title the questions look like duplicates to me, they are both essentially asking "Why did the Nazgul attack the way they did at Weathertop?" It's just the reasons behind the main question are slightly different. – TheLethalCarrot Jul 9 at 8:16
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    Regardless of your reasons for opening a question. If it's been discussed before, it's a duplicate. As for duplication, if one set of answer's haven't satisfactorily answered your question, asking a slightly different question isn't appropriate, adding a bounty for unsatisfactory answers is. – Edlothiad Jul 9 at 8:46
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    @Edlothiad This has been discussed in the linked meta post. Why would I hijack another question because it does not fully satisfy my question by adding a bounty to it? You only prove that you did not read the relevant discussion even though it is linked. Also, I am writing this for the tenth time today but answers don't make questions duplicate. It is in meta SE. – C.Koca Jul 9 at 9:05
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    @C.Koca You do realise that is exactly what bounties are for right? – TheLethalCarrot Jul 9 at 9:08
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    @TheLethalCarrot If you care to read the discussion in the linked meta post you can see a comment like "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." Since I am not interested in why Nazgûl did not do a second run, why should I add bounty to that question? – C.Koca Jul 9 at 9:10
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    @C.Koca Link only answers are deleted as they are not beneficial. The smallest of edits to my answer would extensively cover your question. Making them even more certain dupes. That edit would also be entirely in line with the question I originally asked, as it's premise (not it's title) is "Why did the Nazgul behave the way they did at Amon Sul?", which includes "Why didn't they attack the other Hobbits?" – Edlothiad Jul 9 at 9:17
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    @Edlothiad If you have read it then you see Rand al'Thor's answer stating answers can only be used as a litmus test. I have no intention to change your opinion as well. You can keep misusing your VTC however you want, but you can't just claim that answers make questions duplicate when it has been covered so many times that I lost count of it. – C.Koca Jul 9 at 9:18
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    @C.Koca You do realise we're arguing the question are dupes regardless of the answers don't you? Also the votes here disagree with you about other users "abusing VTC privileges". – TheLethalCarrot Jul 9 at 9:19
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    Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. – Null Jul 9 at 13:36
  • I've voted to close as too broad. Your question seems to have two elements "why was my question closed" and "should we change policy x" – Valorum Jul 12 at 13:09
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    @Valorum The OP isn't proposing any policy changes; they just want people to abide by the existing policy. If they've misunderstood what the existing policy says, that can be explained, but there's no "should we change policy x" here. – Rand al'Thor Jul 12 at 13:41
  • @Randal'Thor - I disagree. The current "policy" is vague, Ill-formed and contentious. This question seems to be an attempt to crystallise one interpretation of that policy. – Valorum Jul 12 at 13:52

Finally, the question is, why do some users with quite high reputation deliberately misuse their VTC privilege?

They don't. They use it appropriately. One or two votes to close might be misguided, but five votes suggests that there is something about your question that needs to be looked at more closely.

Keep in mind that votes to close are part of the system here. If your question is closed, it's not the end. You can (and should) edit your question to fix the issues that are mentioned in the comments and/or come to the meta here and ask about the closure of your question.

It's going to be clear to you that your question is on-topic and not a duplicate, but others can't read your mind, only your question, so if they are seeing something different from what you intended, it's almost always because there's something about what you wrote in your question that didn't convey your actual intent.

Again, in that case five other users have gotten a different idea about your question from what you wanted to say, so it's more likely that something has broken down in the communication than all five people are conspiring to unfairly shut you down.

Stack Exchange demands a lot from us users. We have to work hard to communicate effectively. That hard work is rewarding because Stack Exchange also provides access to some of the best knowledge available on the Internet, with no paywall and no flame wars. It's the systems like VTCs and the meta and all of the other things that make SE effective, and it's all of us that have to work hard to build this repository of knowledge. When a question of yours gets closed (or downvoted or whatever), it's very easy to feel that others have done the wrong thing, haven't understood us, or have a personal vendetta against us, but almost all of the time, we bear some or all of the responsibility.

Notice that you opened a discussion of this on the meta and your question has been re-opened. That is how the system is supposed to work. A question closed for any reason is not the end of the line for that question, it's a sign that some kind of edit and/or clarification or further review is necessary. Upon further review, your question was re-opened. No one misused any of their votes.


Edit regarding whether and how answers should be used to evaluate whether questions are considered duplicates.

I quote a bullet from the highest voted and accepted answer on the linked meta regarding duplicates (emphasis mine):

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".

I'm very confused about why the asker of this question accepted that answer but in this meta is asserting that answers are not relevant to whether questions are duplicates. I suggest to this asker either un-accepting and downvoting that answer quoted above, or retracting any objections to the use of answers when evaluating whether questions are duplicates. The current situation is self-contradictory and confusing.

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    Amen to that. Opening a meta every time your question gets closed and demanding that heads roll is the diametric opposite of what should happen. It's anti-social and makes users less likely to want to interact (for fear of being targeted for complaints). – Valorum Jul 11 at 18:19
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    I will disagree slightly that it really indicates that five people agree on the reason for closing. For one, the reason shows the majority choice, so if three people vote for a question to be closed as Too Broad and two for being Off-topic, it will show the give names as having voted it Too Broad. Secondly, I think people are often strongly influenced by what's already been voted for, including whether to flag the question for being closed. – FuzzyBoots Jul 11 at 20:22
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    @FuzzyBoots In the first case, I only meant that five users agree the question should be put on hold, not necessarily for the same reason. Many problematic questions have more than one problem or don't fit neatly into one close reason. Regarding the bandwagon effect, I'm sure it's real, and at the same time I've seen many questions with one or two VTCs that never get closed, and the questions I've seen closed that seemed OK to me have almost universally been re-opened. I think if the bandwagon effect were a serious problem there would be a lot more discussion on it. It seems rare to me. – Todd Wilcox Jul 11 at 20:26
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    To be fair, "It makes sense on some level" is a very mealy-mouthed phrasing. The same answer also says "duplication is mostly about questions, with answers being only a secondary concern." It also links to a clearer policy answer which says "if you're already pretty sure the questions are duplicates, testing the answers of one against the other can easily confirm your suspicions". Regardless of what the OP of this particular question thinks (their acceptances etc), the situation is pretty contradictory, various metas having highly-voted answers which contradict each other :-/ – Rand al'Thor Jul 11 at 21:18
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    Except, @Randal'Thor, they all tend to the same idea of using answers as a test, with only varying requirement for similarity in questions. While I agree policies are good rules to have, we also have to look at site culture, and the habits of the community. Which, for sff, our most active users have (for as long as I've been here, and from what I've been told, long before that) used answers as a measure of duplicates to create a "net" of questions. It's good for those duplicates to be positively received and have answers, but also to connect them to the web of closely related questions. – Edlothiad Jul 12 at 5:22
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    @TheLethalCarrot That's fair. On further reflection, I removed that last paragraph. I still stand by my personal opinion that the question in question isn't a duplicate, but even though that question prompted this question, the core of this question is about why (or whether, in my read) high rep users are voting to close inappropriately, and I'd rather focus on the answer of "no" than get distracted by details of the particular question that started the discussion. – Todd Wilcox Jul 12 at 6:50
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    @ToddWilcox - It would be nice of people could divorce 'big issue' questions of policy from little issue questions like 'why did this happen'. – Valorum Jul 12 at 10:44
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    @Edlothiad 1) Did you get this the wrong way round? Duplication is always about the questions, and there's varying opinions on how important answers should be. 2) Absolutely agreed that culture and habits need to be taken into account as well as hard rules and policies. Provided we're also open to the idea of bad culture and habits, and even changing them if necessary. 3) Again, absolutely agreed that it's useful to link closely related questions to each other. But dupe-closing does more than that: it blocks new answers to the 2nd question, even those that don't address the 1st question. – Rand al'Thor Jul 12 at 13:39
  • @Randal'Thor no 1) was the right way around. Recently quoted "policies" tend to suggest that answers be used to some degree, but differ based on at which point they should be used (or in other words how much weighting they should have). 2) Yes but most objectively bad culture/habits would be worked out before several years have elapsed. 3) We'll have to agree to disagree about the best way to build the net. Given the way the tools work, I see no better alternative. Were the tools to change, sure. – Edlothiad Jul 12 at 13:43
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    @Edlothiad What about the 'tool' of dropping a link in a comment, which is commonly used already in cases where nobody VTCs as dupe? That adds a link to the related question in the sidebar, but without blocking answers to the new question. – Rand al'Thor Jul 12 at 13:47
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    Comments have variable lifetimes, it doesn't seem anywhere near sufficient. This isn't a tool but a work around. I also think there are limitations provided by the closure which should be placed on such questions. – Edlothiad Jul 12 at 13:49

Let's begin at the end:

Finally, the question is, why do some users with quite high reputation deliberately misuse their VTC privilege?

Because they disagree with your interpretation of our policies.

Now, as it happens, your interpretation is correct and theirs is wrong. But that doesn't make them bad people, and starting a conversation by looking for someone to blame is unhelpful.

Now, to the substance of this matter:

The questions are clearly distinct. Why did the Nazgûl not attack a second time at Weathertop? makes no mention whatsoever of the Nazgûl failing to attack the other Hobbits (in the question; answers don't count). Looking at just the questions, these are clearly separate and independent questions about different aspects of the same event. The question has now been reopened, and should not be re-closed.

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    "Using answers as a litmus test...", so I dip my answer into the new question. It turns up answering the question, they're dupes and should be closed. I did exactly what the policy says and it turned up positive. I disagree that "theirs is wrong" – Edlothiad Jul 10 at 20:09
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    “Now, as it happens, your interpretation is correct and theirs is wrong.” stating this as absolute fact with no evidence isn’t exactly helpful. Also as I said in the comments, some deleted and some moved, the questions are dupes themselves they are both asking the same thing but focusing on one small detail of that thing where the answer is the same... hence litmus test, hence dupes. – TheLethalCarrot Jul 10 at 20:14
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    @TheLethalCarrot: Meta answers express opinions. If you disagree, downvote and write your own. – Kevin Jul 10 at 20:24
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    @Kevin Express opinions based on policies and site culture. But you have stated this here as if it is indeed factual policy. Just because it’s meta doesn’t mean everything has to be 100% opinion and in fact, especially in cases like this, it shouldn’t be. – TheLethalCarrot Jul 10 at 20:31
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    @Edlothiad Fact X leads to A and B. Why A happened or why B happened are two different questions. Just because Fact X is the main reason between A and B does not make these questions duplicate. Duplicate means "exactly like something else, especially through having been copied". Do these questions look as if they have been copied? If we were in history SE and would you mark "Why did Ottomans collapse" as duplicate, if "How did Bolsheviks rise to power" was asked before? Both are mostly consequences of WWI, yet still very different questions. – C.Koca Jul 10 at 20:57
  • @C.Koca I’m not the best history buff but that doesn’t seem like a comparable example to this situation. – TheLethalCarrot Jul 10 at 21:01
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    @TheLethalCarrot Litmus test means when questions are worded very similarly, you can use the answer to check if they are duplicates or not. My question entirely focuses on why Nazgûl did not kill Hobbits other than Frodo in the first attack. There is no mention of second attack. By marking it as dupe, not only you decide on the perfect answer for my question, but also you shut down any possible debate. – C.Koca Jul 10 at 21:02
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    @C.Koca if I shut down the debate then what is this meta question? As for perfect answer you have said the core of the answer is the same yourself, without looking back at the comments I can’t remember exactly how you worded it though. And once again the core premise of the questions are asking the same thing. Just because the minor detail is different doesn’t mean that they are in effect the same question. – TheLethalCarrot Jul 10 at 21:05
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    @TheLethalCarrot Fact X lead to A and B. That is the example. Someone might focus on A while someone else might focus on B. If A and B are different, than "Why did A happen" and "Why did B happen" are different. Your suggestion of both questions being in the form of "Why did Nazgûl behave that way" is equivalent of a history question asking "Why did the world evolve that way in the interwar period". It should be marked as too broad. Everyone would mark "Why did Nazgûl behave that way in Weathertop" as too broad. – C.Koca Jul 10 at 21:05
  • @C.Koca Well once again that doesn’t look like an equivalent example. And once again I am going to end our interaction here because we aren’t going to get anywhere again. – TheLethalCarrot Jul 10 at 21:10
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    @TheLethalCarrot Just ask "Why did X behave the way s/he did in A" for any kind of scifi work in scifi SE. Let me know whether it is marked as too broad. – C.Koca Jul 10 at 21:12
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    @C.Koca aren’t you essentially describing a character motivation question which is explicitly on topic? We even have a tag for it... – TheLethalCarrot Jul 10 at 21:36
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    @TheLethalCarrot I actually did use that tag. But one character can do (or choose not to do) two different things with the same motivation. This is going to be reductio ad absurdum, but "Why did Frodo let Gollum survive?" and "Why did Frodo pass through Cirith Ungol" has the same answer: "to find the way into mordor". Are they duplicate to you? – C.Koca Jul 10 at 21:51
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    Those don't seem equivalent at all. The whole point of the "answers don't make dupes" principle is that a well constructed answer to one question shouldn't answer another unless they're dupes. A one-liner answer might match dozens of questions but only because it's vague and largely useless. – Valorum Jul 11 at 13:04
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    This conversation has been moved to chat for further discussion. – Null Jul 11 at 16:12

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