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This question was closed as a duplicate of this question. The reason stated was that the the answers to the latter question address the former question as well. The problem is that the two questions are different. The content of the answers to the second question that addressed the first question is not content that would automatically be necessary to answer the second question. If someone would answer the second question with just that content, it would not be an answer because that content alone does not answer the second question.

Now suppose someone wants to answer the first question. There is nowhere to do so. You can't answer it on the first question because that question is closed. You can't answer it on the second question because it wouldn't answer the second question. How, then can the first question be closed as a duplicate of the second question, when that is effectively saying that we are not allowing any other answers to the question?

See also here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here which seem to agree that this type of question should not be considered a duplicate.

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    Keep in mind that closing a question as a "duplicate" is a tool used to keep the information on the Stack well-organized. Just because a question is closed as a "duplicate" doesn't mean that question is exactly verbatim the same as another question. Questions are closed as duplicates to help make sure there are as few questions as possible that cover the total amount of information available on a topic. Since the answers overlap (even if they aren't identical), it helps to consolidate to one question, hence the "duplicate" closure reason was used, which also links to the other question. – Todd Wilcox Jul 17 '18 at 20:46
  • A good answer to question 1 (sly’s) answer’s question 2, that second source just proves it is in fact a duplicate. – Edlothiad Jul 18 '18 at 5:09
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    @Edlothiad That a good answer could answer the second question is not enough to make it a duplicate. The second source shows that the threshold is that a good answer has to address the second question for it to be a duplicate. – Alex Jul 18 '18 at 5:25
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    Again, you've just walked yourself into a rut, a good answer does address the second question, otherwise we wouldn't have closed it. It talks in reasonable length, including school size in half the relevant paragraphs. – Edlothiad Jul 18 '18 at 5:27
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    @Edlothiad But a good answer could also have not addressed it. The fact that a particular answer here happened to address it is irrelevant. Anyone can throw anything into an answer. That doesn't make a different question a duplicate. If you can't reasonably answer one without answering the other, that's a different story, and that could be grounds for a duplicate. – Alex Jul 18 '18 at 5:31
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    No one can't throw anything into an answer, that's blatantly false. One has to address the question at hand. Some people write excellent answers going into depth about the topic and providing more information than is required, but information that is certainly encouraged. A 2nd question was then asked which already had an answer elsewhere. Rather than copying the information over, we redirected those users to an already excellent answer that has addressed the issue. The questions themselves aren't duplicates by the strict definition of the word, but the 2nd question has been answered elsewhere – Edlothiad Jul 18 '18 at 5:38
  • As such, we have dupe closed them so that people looking for the answer to the second find it by getting redirected to the first and reading the top answer. In the process, they might even learn a thing or two about houses and the sorting hat. Win-Win. – Edlothiad Jul 18 '18 at 5:39
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    @Edlothiad I would actually call that a lose-lose. It would be a lot simpler for them to have a question which actually asks their question, and thereby solicits good answers to that question, then to have to be redirected to a different question and read through a lot of unnecessary information and hope to find the answer to their question in there, in one answer which may or may not be good, on a question which certainly isn't specifically soliciting good answers to their question. – Alex Jul 18 '18 at 5:42
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    @Alex - That being the case, you can certainly try to change the policy. Many have tried and all have failed. – Valorum Jul 20 '18 at 15:55
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    @Valorum What are you basing your claims on. My question here linked to seven meta discussions, six of which have a top answer supporting my position (at least in part if not in full, and often with a huge margin above the next highest answer, if there are other answers at all), and one in which such an answer is a close second. – Alex Jul 20 '18 at 16:15
  • @Interestingly enough, it seems to me that none of the answers to the "kept" question really have a convincing argument from canon that they're right. If no one has found anything really addressing the quote issue by now, wouldn't that show that question is primarily opinion-based? What happens then? – RDFozz Jul 20 '18 at 20:09
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    @RDFozz See this Meta discussion. – Alex Jul 20 '18 at 20:31
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The closed question was reopened by 5 voters, and I managed to post an answer to it before it was summarily reclosed by a single voter with a gold badge.

As you can see, my answer cites many passages to develop an argument that there were many hundreds of students, probably around 800. My answer does not in any way shape or form address whether there are house quotas. I can't imagine that anyone thinks that my answer would be a good answer to the question about house quotas.

That should be all the proof necessary to show that the questions are not duplicates. As I pointed out in the question post here, and in subsequent comments, closing such questions as duplicates prevents potentially good answers from being posted.

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    The reopen votw should never have happened whilst the meta was still on going but that’s meta for you. As for the part about the answer you should look at it from both sides not just one, hence specific/general. And like I’ve said closing questions doesn’t mean they aren’t good questions just that they should be closed per policies and cultures. – TheLethalCarrot Jul 18 '18 at 18:24
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    The questions seem significantly different to me in the sense that if I was looking for the answer to the closed question, I wouldn't expect to find it in the question about quotas, therefore I wouldn't be searching in answers like that. It doesn't help future seekers of information having the answer buried in a different question. – Meat Trademark Jul 18 '18 at 18:29
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    @MeatTrademark Hence duplicates as signposts which is a core feature of duplicates and is even quoted by SE staff and long standing mods across the network all the time. – TheLethalCarrot Jul 18 '18 at 18:30
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    @TheLethalCarrot Looking at it from both sides leads to the same conclusion. None of the evidence cited in my answer was cited in the answer to the open question. And there's a reason for that – it's not what the open question was asking for. Therefore, to close the question because an answer to a different question made one point relating to this question, only serves to prevent good answers to the closed question. – Alex Jul 18 '18 at 18:57
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    @TheLethalCarrot And it's not like a signpost is a benefit that is added by closing as a duplicate. A question can just as easily be a signpost without being closed as a duplicate. – Alex Jul 18 '18 at 18:58
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    @Alex to the first comment see my answer relating to specific/general and for how it relates in this case. For the other that is literally a benefit of a duplicate, linking only does so much and isn’t as much of a sign post than a general direction. However, I don’t think we’ll personally ever agree on this so not much point continuing the conversation. – TheLethalCarrot Jul 18 '18 at 19:04
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    That’s why the question you answered is the dupe source not the dupe target. The policy also requires there to be a “good” answer (whatever that means) but based on votes, it’s hard to judge yours as a “good” answer (again, whatever that means). – Edlothiad Jul 19 '18 at 5:18
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    @TheLethalCarrot There's nothing wrong with VTROing while a meta is ongoing. If someone makes a meta post calling attention to a wrongly closed question, and people see it and VTRO due to that meta, then that's meta working as it should. – Rand al'Thor Jul 19 '18 at 21:38
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    @Randal'Thor not when the current top answer states it should be closed and to be honest I think that shouldn’t happen at all. The meta is there to decide the questions status. Voting on it whilst discussion is on going is harmful in my opinion – TheLethalCarrot Jul 19 '18 at 22:19
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    @Alex - Your answer would not have been a good answer for the quota question, but is for the # of students. That isn't the issue. The issue is that the answer for the first question already answers the second question. Hence, the second question is a duplicate. Just because you have an answer for a closed question, doesn't mean it should automatically be reopened. – JohnP Jul 20 '18 at 17:55
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    @Alex - Not necessarily. Read Shog's answer here, then you can come back and come up with another reason it doesn't apply to you. Despite several high rep users and current (and former) moderators telling you that yes, it is indeed a duplicate. – JohnP Jul 20 '18 at 19:12
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    @JohnP I cited that post in the question here. That post seems to be a clear support that the question under discussion is not a duplicate. – Alex Jul 20 '18 at 19:20
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    I won't bother posting a separate answer here, but I left two expanded comments agreeing that they are not dupes and VTROed, based both on my experience and expertise in both SFF and meta topics involved, and my judgement about this specific Q&A being discussed, (and the fact that this Meta answer has higher votes than opposing answer seems to support my judgement, not that it would influence my VTRO). – DVK-on-Ahch-To Jul 25 '18 at 8:47
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    @Alex The post has now been locked due to the close/reopen war. While it's locked it doesn't matter whether it's closed or open (locked posts can't be answered anyway), but once the discussion has died down we can unlock the post and take any appropriate action. – Rand al'Thor Jul 26 '18 at 7:28
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    @Randal'Thor - the discussion seems to have died down; the votes aren't really the far apart but seem to indicate that they are not actually duplicates (and the close/reopen vote counts would indicate the same). – Mithrandir Jul 29 '18 at 15:52
8

They are duplicates

The scope of the original question, "Do Hogwarts Houses have quotas?", is broad enough that to answer it talking about the number of students at Hogwarts seems important, if not necessary. And that is exactly what has happened here the top and accepted answer has spoken about that.

It's been spoken at by length on meta recently so I'll only give the TL;DR version. Answers can be used to assess if questions are duplicates or not, people disagree on how much they can be used but they can be. In this case @Slytherincess' answer can be copied over to the dupe without changing it and it would answer the question fine, sure it would have some extra rambling but it would answer the question.


On a side note, duplicate questions are not a bad thing, quite the opposite in fact. I think half the reason people are arguing so much about dupe closures at the moment is that they think it is some bad thing whereas it is not. Dupes have a special place on SE, they serve as signposts to the main question, they are not subject to auto deletion and good dupe questions should and are usually upvoted. See this ASOIAF/GoT question from recently that was dupe closed yet has 4 upvotes (+4/-1).

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    I don't think your first paragraph is true. If we delete the part of her answer that talks about how many total students there were, it would not affect her answer. She doesn't provide any evidence that shows that because there are X number of students they are evenly distributed. She just says there seem to be X number of students and they seem to be evenly distributed. – Alex Jul 15 '18 at 17:50
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    I also think your second paragraph is not true. The part of her answer that would answer the other question is 1 paragraph out of an answer that contains 6 paragraphs plus a long quote. Pasting the entire answer to the other question would be giving an answer that is more than 80% irrelevant. – Alex Jul 15 '18 at 17:51
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    As for your third paragraph, my point is not about whether duplicates are considered a bad thing. My point is that by closing something as a duplicate when it was not in fact asked prevents it from getting answers. It can't get answers where it was asked because the question is closed, and it can't get answered on the original question because that's a different question. – Alex Jul 15 '18 at 17:53
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    Also, the close reason states: This question has been asked before and already has an answer. Even if questions get closed when there are answers to different questions that also answer this question, it is false to say that the question was asked. – Alex Jul 15 '18 at 17:58
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    @Alex Don’t have the time to properly respond but the point about the close reason is a system fault. The message doesn’t fully explain what duplicate closure should are for and this was even brought up on the meta you link in your post here. – TheLethalCarrot Jul 15 '18 at 19:21
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    @Alex how does it not? You ask how they are duplicates and I say they are with reasoning. – TheLethalCarrot Jul 16 '18 at 18:08
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    @Alex it’s a system feature that no new answers can be added and the question has been answered already... on both questions. I’m not seeing why that matters here, especially in this case. Also not all points need to be addressed when answering the question. The main point is that the question is a dupe and so should stay closed. – TheLethalCarrot Jul 16 '18 at 19:26
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    The system feature makes sense when the same question was actually asked. Then it doesn't prevent new answers because you can answer the second question on the first question. When the same question was not asked it prevents new answers because there is nowhere to answer the second question. This would be like saying that all questions should be closed as soon as they have one answer, because the question has already been answered. This would, of course, run counter to a fundamental purpose of Stack Exchange. – Alex Jul 16 '18 at 19:52
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    @Alex closing a duplicate as a duplicate because it is a duplicate is of course not equivalent to closing every question as soon as they have an answer. This shouldn’t need explaining. – TheLethalCarrot Jul 16 '18 at 22:09
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    But the argument here is that it's only a duplicate because there is already an answer (since it's not a duplicate on account of the question which is different). If that is the case then every question with an answer should be closed with the same close notice minus just a few words (which happen to be the same words that are false in this case): This question already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question. – Alex Jul 16 '18 at 22:15
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    @Alex As I explained above the questions are duplicates. The target is broad enough in scope to talk about amount of students. Here we close specific questions as broad ones all the time. There is nothing different here. And as I explained it’s a system fault that the wording of the message is unfortunate. Nothing we can do to change it though. – TheLethalCarrot Jul 16 '18 at 22:57
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    That's demonstrably false. If I would answer the open question by saying "There are X number of students in Hogwarts" (and cite evidence) it would not answer the question. It would, however, answer the closed question. – Alex Jul 16 '18 at 23:14
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    I just read the top-voted and accepted answer to the dupe target. It mentions the number of students only in passing, and only as "at one point it was put forth that there are approximately 1000 students". Even if you think answers make dupes, that's not a proper answer to the proposed duplicate. – Rand al'Thor Jul 23 '18 at 6:11
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    @Randal'Thor The first paragraph talks solely about the number of students and then from that takes the discussion forward, seems more than in passing to me. It is a proper answer even if it isn't a "good answer" but I can't see how you can say that doesn't answer the closed question. – TheLethalCarrot Jul 23 '18 at 7:56
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    @Alex It flows as one thorough answer, with the first paragraph setting the scene and the second being a follow on and leading into the quotas. That's the last I will say on this though as we've already gone round in circles enough over the past few days. – TheLethalCarrot Jul 23 '18 at 13:45
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Of course, you're absolutely correct. "What happens if there's an uneven distribution of student personalities" is in no way, shape, or form the same question as "How many students are there". There's no need to even look at the answers, it's so blindingly obvious that the questions are different.

Answers can be useful in edge cases, where an argument could be made either way. As it stands, the fact that one of the answers to the "uneven distribution" question happened to mention, kind of by way of introduction, a number that is possibly not the answer to the "how many students" question, is totally and completely irrelevant.

This is not to say that your question isn't a duplicate. It's just that every time someone has tried to ask it, it has been marked as a duplicate of this same, unrelated question, so the site does not have a good place to point people who are wondering how many students are at Hogwarts. It really is a shame that people here place more importance on reducing the number of questions than on having good answers to questions.

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    Questions don't need to be identical to be dupes. If question a also addresses question b, the narrower question is a dupe. Any question that addresses the number of students in each house will, of necessity, address the question of total student numbers. – Valorum Jul 17 '18 at 21:45
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    @Valorum You don't need to address the specific number of students in each house in order to address whether there is even distribution. In fact, the accepted answer simply derived the number of students per house by taking the alleged total number of students and assuming an even distribution and dividing by 4. And you certainly don't need to address the house distribution in order to address the total number of students. – Alex Jul 17 '18 at 22:00
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    @Valorum See, also, this Meta post which clearly states that in order to be a duplicate any good answer to one question would have to satisfactorily answer the other. I.e. it's not enough that a good answer to one question could address the other. – Alex Jul 17 '18 at 22:29
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    @Alex - Sure, but a good answer to one would address the other. A partial answer might only address one element, but we accept partial answers. – Valorum Jul 17 '18 at 22:51
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    @Valorum If an answer fully addresses the question that was asked you can't call it a partial answer for not also addressing what was not asked. If I find a passage that shows that there are/aren't house quotas but says nothing about the total number of students, that wouldn't be a partial answer. It would be a complete answer as it addresses the question completely. Therefore, since it is theoretically possible to answer the question without a discussion of total number of students it doesn't meet the condition of any good answer to one question would have to satisfactorily answer the other – Alex Jul 17 '18 at 23:19
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    Except the title of the question isn't what you claim it is but "Do Hogwarts houses have quotas", which, if they do, would mean that there's at least a minimum number of Hogwarts students (so question 2 answered). The answer doesn't "kind of" mention the fact, it goes into details about it, as every good answer to the question probably should. It's a highly relevant detail to the quota on house numbers. The answer even introduces JKR's values and the calculated number of students that people have come up with. Seems reasonably detailed to me. – Edlothiad Jul 18 '18 at 5:42
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    I'm also unsure where you think the "people here place more importance on reducing the number of questions" comes from. I doubt users here want to reduce the number of questions especially considering most of the top reviewers are answer focused users and don't ask that many questions. Given the answers are what content they provide and provide the rep rewards they get, I don't see how this would make sense. Less questions would mean less questions to answer, meaning nothing to do on site. In my view, I close questions to keep our site clean and to prevent duplicate info being posted again. – Edlothiad Jul 18 '18 at 5:44
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    @Edlothiad 1) Having quotas does not necessarily mean we know what the quotas are. 2) Having quotas doesn't mean that there's a minimum number of students (maybe it would mean that there's a maximum). 3) The minimum or maximum number of students is not an answer to how many students there are. – Alex Jul 18 '18 at 14:42
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    @Valorum, no, the test is if EVERY answer to question A also answers question B, then they might be duplicates. – Martha Jul 18 '18 at 21:54
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    @Martha - Actually no. We also accept partial answers. It's quite literally written into the DNA of the site. – Valorum Jul 18 '18 at 22:14
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    @Valorum: eh? What do partial answers have to do with the price of tea in China? – Martha Jul 19 '18 at 0:04
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    I agree that my answer strayed off topic to the question and that I didn't word myself as well as I should have. I've revised the answer and hope its relevance is improved accordingly. – Slytherincess Jul 29 '18 at 5:11
3

I'll take one more stab at this

Let's imagine a good sample answer to each one. To my mind, you can't get better than an answer which quotes a specific passage in the series under discussion where the question is explicitly answered.

So, here is my sample answer to the open question:

Yes, there are house quotas. If Harry's name was Zimmers it is possible that he would have been sorted into Hufflepuff. This can be demonstrated from the following quote from Goblet of Fire:

"I actually had a great uncle in Slytherin," Ron said.

"Really?" asked Harry, surprised.

"Well it wasn't his fault. By the time they got up to Weasely there were no spots left in Gryffindor or Hufflepuff, and he wasn't clever enough to get into Ravenclaw."

And here is my sample answer to the closed question:

There are 2,500 students attending Hogwarts. This can be seen from the following quote from Order of the Phoenix:

"Hermione, Umbridge said she would confiscate every broomstick in the castle if she has to!"

"Er, Harry, there are 2500 students here. Does she really think she can fit 2,500 brooms in her office?"

"Come off it, Hermione. You know that most students don't even have their own brooms."

As you can see, these answers have absolutely nothing in common. Each one would be a great answer to the question it would be posted to (assuming the quotes are accurate), but would be a horrible answer to the other question.

This shows, beyond any doubt, that these are two fundamentally different questions. If one of these questions is closed then there is a great answer that will never be posted, as it would be a horrible answer to the other question.

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    This shows nothing, writing a sample answer to prove your own point is obviously going to show bias towards your own opinion. It’s probably better to edit your other answer anyway than keep adding additional ones. – TheLethalCarrot Jul 18 '18 at 22:15
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    @TheLethalCarrot Obviously if I am trying to show that an answer can be written that answers one question but has nothing to do with the other then I will compose such an answer. That's the entire point. – Alex Jul 19 '18 at 0:28
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    @Alex The point is anyone can make something up to support their case and showing that here proves nothing. I could equally provide two samples the support my case. It doesn’t help in anyway cos it’s obviously extremely biased towards your own opinion. – TheLethalCarrot Jul 20 '18 at 12:24
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    @TheLethalCarrot If a case is that something could theoretically exist, then making something up would support the case. As that is my case ("an answer could exist that would answer one question without addressing the other") all I have to do to prove my point is make up an such an answer. To refute my point you would have to show why such an answer couldn't exist. We all know that the quotes don't actually exist, but there is no reason why such quotes couldn't exist. Thus, I am not sure why Valorum asserts that it is implausible, or why you think this post doesn't prove anything. – Alex Jul 20 '18 at 13:32
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    @Alex It proves your point in the same way I could make up an answer to prove my point. I.e. it has no real weight behind it because anyone can craft something to prove their own point. – TheLethalCarrot Jul 20 '18 at 13:43
  • @TheLethalCarrot That is incorrect. Making up an answer wouldn't prove your point. You could make up all the answers in the world but it still wouldn't show that there can't be other answers that could address one question but not the other. I, however, by making up examples where an answer does address one without the other, have proven my point, namely that these must therefore be two different questions, and the closure of one of them prevents a set of potential answers (those that would address the closed question without addressing the open question) from ever being posted. – Alex Jul 20 '18 at 13:53
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    @TheLethalCarrot I can't understand why you think it's relevant that the answers are chosen to support Alex's point. If you're trying to make a point, then obviously the examples you choose will be chosen so as to illustrate the point most aptly. – Rand al'Thor Jul 20 '18 at 20:02
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    There's nothing wrong with choosing examples that fit your point - it's what was done here and here, for some random well-received answers. What matters is if the examples are plausible - if these quotes are silly because Ron never tells anecdotes about Weasley relatives or Hermione never lectures about Hogwarts statistics, then the OP would deserve this criticism; if a scenario such as these two answers could really happen with a similar question, then the OP has a point. – Rand al'Thor Jul 20 '18 at 20:02
  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. – Rand al'Thor Jul 20 '18 at 20:03
-7

I'm sure everyone is sick of this post already, but here's a (somewhat) new angle as to why these questions shouldn't be duplicates. (This was already discussed somewhat in Chat starting here, but I think it should be brought here so it can be included in the voting.)

Today I edited my answer to the question about the number of students in Hogwarts to add in some evidence and counter-evidence. As a potential explanation for a certain discrepancy, I suggested that Ravenclaw may have had many more students than the other houses (in Harry's year). I pointed out that this could account for why Gryffindor has classes with Slytherin and Hufflepuff but not with Ravenclaw.

I then checked to see if there was any discussion on this site about Harry never having classes with Ravenclaw, and I found this question which asks if Harry ever had classes with Ravenclaw.

According to the stricter standard for duplicates, the old question should be closed as a duplicate of the question I answered.1 This is because even though "How many students attended Hogwarts?" and "Did Harry ever have class with Ravenclaw?" are two different questions, the latter is answered by one of the answers to the former, and thus the information already exists and is at risk of being repeated. To quote from TheLethalCarrot's answer (name adjusted to reflect this case):

In this case @Alex's answer can be copied over to the dupe without changing it and it would answer the question fine, sure it would have some extra rambling but it would answer the question.

Just a couple of hours later I was reading this question about whether Dumbledore set up the Potters to be killed. In one of the answers I saw a quote which said that the secret cannot be forced out of the secret-keeper. I suspected that there was bound to be a question here about that very issue, and I found this question. Therefore, according to the strict duplicate policy the latter question should be closed because it is already answered in an answer to the former question. Once again we can say:

In this case @erip's answer can be copied over to the dupe without changing it and it would answer the question fine, sure it would have some extra rambling but it would answer the question.

I subsequently found another example while reading this question about how Arthur Weasley knew to send his Patronus to Grimmauld Place. One of the answers stated that a patronus has the ability to find someone, and tried to prove this from the fact that Snape must have been able to locate Harry in the Forest of Dean by following his patronus. There is another question that asks how Snape was able to find Harry in the Forest of Dean. Even though these are two different questions, the latter is answered by the answer to the former. Once again we can apply TheLethalCarrot's criterion (and this time we don't even have to change the name because it's the same user):

In this case @Slytherincess' answer can be copied over to the dupe without changing it and it would answer the question fine, sure it would have some extra rambling but it would answer the question.

I found these three situations with virtually no effort, and without spending any time "searching them out". I imagine that there are probably dozens of other such situations.

This would mean that anytime someone incorporates information from an answer into an answer to another question they will be rendering the first question a duplicate.

Are we really going to close all these questions just because an answer to a different question contains information that could be an answer to the current question as well?

In fact, it is even possible that someone could deliberately take content from an answer to one question and use it as part of an answer to a different question, rendering the first question a duplicate. (I don't know why someone would want to do that, but it's possible, and it would be hard to prove nefarious intent.)

In sum, my point is that under the strict interpretation of "duplicate", almost any question can be made into a duplicate of any other. There are probably already dozens of such situations. This, I would argue, is indicative of a major flaw in the strict definition of "duplicate".


1 The question has since been closed as a duplicate of a different post, but that is not relevant to my argument.

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    You know, you don't have to provide every angle you think of right? – Möoz Jul 24 '18 at 5:21
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    You seem to have decided to 1) openly mock users, and 2) make a mockery of policies that were voted for by the community. Your first example would not be appropriate based on a meta you've linked, oh so many times..., talking about a "throwaway line". I can see no mention of a quote in your answer which answers the Ravenclaw question. If anything you've just taken the information from there, that does not make it a dupe. Your second example again is about two entirely unrelated questions. And again is a mere throwaway line in an otherwise totally unrelated question. – Edlothiad Jul 24 '18 at 5:21
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    Now I'm sure you're going to inform me that the two questions being discussed in this meta are unrelated, but I strongly disagree. House quota numbers, imo, are highly related to Hogwarts student numbers given that if they are even, multiplying by 28 (4 houses, 7 years) should give you an almost exact lower limit for number of students (excluding expulsion/departures, which in normal times would likely be quite rare). The dupe target even indirectly references student numbers through beds: ... – Edlothiad Jul 24 '18 at 5:25
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    We see that there's a fairly small number of beds per room in each dorm, would the Hat stop Sorting people into a House if it knew the House had no more beds? Given to address the number of beds one would have to address the capacity for students and whether student numbers are below or above this number and what would happen if they were the duplicate question is a subset of the target. I hope you can see the difference between the two questions now. – Edlothiad Jul 24 '18 at 5:27
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    @Edlothiad I don't believe I am mocking anything. The quote that answers the Ravenclaw question is: One could perhaps argue that Ravenclaw got 50% or more of the students in Harry's year – which would explain why Gryffindor has classes with Hufflepuff and Slytherin but never with Ravenclaw – but Ravenclaw does not appear to be overly represented from the (part of) the sorting we see (in which they got three students). – Alex Jul 24 '18 at 11:11
  • @Edlothiad The second example is not about two entirely unrelated questions. A major aspect of the Potters' death was the secret-keeper situation; a discussion of whether Dumbledore set them up to die could certainly take that into account. While the two questions are different they are not unrelated. Just like the questions about house quotas and number of students in Hogwarts are different questions yet are related. – Alex Jul 24 '18 at 11:11
  • @Edlothiad House quotas are indeed related to number of students, but related does not = duplicate. The only way to derive number of students from house quotas is if a particular answer for house quotas is correct, and within that answer being correct we also know certain details, and even with a particular answer being correct and knowing certain details we still wouldn't know how many students there are, but only the maximum number of students that there could be. – Alex Jul 24 '18 at 11:11
  • @Edlothiad In point of fact, though, the answer did not derive the number of students from knowing whether there are quotas. Just the opposite. It tried to argue that there are quotas from knowing the number of students, and it failed to show how the latter flowed from the former. Indeed, I would argue that my examples are even more duplicatey than this case because in this case the duplicate content did not contribute to the answer (I.e. remove the content the answer is the same) whereas in my examples the duplicate content did contribute to the answers. – Alex Jul 24 '18 at 11:11
  • @Edlothiad One doesn't need to address the number of beds to determine whether there is a quota. Indeed, the answer did not, except to assert (without evidence) that the Sorting Hat wouldn't care about number of beds. One also would not need to know whether student numbers are above or below the number of beds in order to address the number of beds. – Alex Jul 24 '18 at 11:11
  • @Edlothiad The main point, though, is that the criterion given in The Lethal Carrot's answer is: In this case Slytherincess' answer can be copied over to the dupe without changing it and it would answer the question fine, sure it would have some extra rambling but it would answer the question. And that is equally true of both examples that I gave. – Alex Jul 24 '18 at 11:12
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New Solution/Compromise

I have not changed my mind from my question and previous two answers where I strongly argued that the two questions are not duplicates. However, even if we assume that the questions are duplicates, there is another possible solution.

In this case, the question about the number of students in Hogwarts was closed as a duplicate of the question about whether houses have quotas because in an answer to the latter question Slytherincess discussed the number of students at Hogwarts. I.e. since the number of students was discussed in an answer to another question it is considered as if the question about the number of students has already been answered.

Now if we look at Slytherincess's actual answer we find that there are only two mentions of the number of students in Hogwarts. The first paragraph mentions two aspects of this:

  1. J.K. Rowling once said that there are around 1,000 students.
  2. There is an article that discusses the number of students.

In the third paragraph she writes that the linked article suggests that if there were 1,000 students (the article disagrees with this estimate) there would be 36 per year per house.

Beyond this there is no other mention of number of students.

When we read the rest of the answer (which argues that there are not quotas) we see that none of the argumentation is supported by the alleged number of students. No argumentation is contradicted by it either, but no argumentation is related to it.

There is only one line of evidence that is actually related to the question of quotas, and that is whether the Sorting Hat has ever placed a student into the wrong house. Slytherincess notes that the Sorting Hat admits that it is possible for it to make a mistake, but that J.K. Rowling has stated that it has never been wrong. (Even this doesn't fully address the quota question; all it tells us is that according to Rowling no one was ever sorted into a house other than the one they should have been in.)

What we see here is that the alleged number of students played no role whatsoever in answering the question; it is entirely extraneous information.

If all mention of the number of students would be removed we would still have the same answer, namely, that there do not seem to be quotas based on Rowling's statement that the Sorting Hat was never wrong.

Therefore, why don't we simply edit Slytherincess's answer and remove all mention of the number of student's at Hogwarts, which would not affect her answer to the question about quotas. Then the other question would not be a duplicate, and could be reopened and receive all the possible answers to the specific question of how many students there are at Hogwarts.

I would imagine that ideally, Slytherincess herself should edit her answer. However, she hasn't been seen on this site in almost a month, so that is unlikely to happen.

The best solution would then seem to be for us to make the edits, which will now allow answers to the question of how many students there are that would otherwise not have been postable.

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    Removing content from an answer is vandalism, as a user with over 11k network rep you should be aware that is unacceptable behaviour – Edlothiad Jul 22 '18 at 9:02
  • @Edlothiad scifi.meta.stackexchange.com/questions/2155/… – Alex Jul 22 '18 at 15:31
  • @Alex should be treated case by case – TheLethalCarrot Jul 22 '18 at 15:51
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    @TheLethalCarrot How is this not treating it case by case? And while the top answer does not necessarily agree with the question, it does say that removing 80% of a post is vandalism. The implication of that is that something significantly less than 80% would not be vandalism. My suggestion here is to only remove a little bit of content, so it would not necessarily be vandalism. Moreover, the second answer there (which only has one fewer vote) seems to allow for any removal of content (with a reasonable warning time), which also suggests that it is not vandalism. – Alex Jul 22 '18 at 15:58
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    None of the details are superfluous nor does it read like a wikipedia like answer. The information is 100% related to the answer and removing it would reduce the quality of the answer. It is therefore vandalism. Even @randal'thor can't call this illogical reasoning – Edlothiad Jul 22 '18 at 16:20
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    @Edlothiad We can't determine whether something is "illogical reasoning" without seeing the reasoning. I explained (in several places) why I believe that the information does not contribute to the answer. Can you tell us how it does? (I.e. what aspect of the answer relating to quotas would be invalidated or affected by removing the statement about the number of students?) – Alex Jul 22 '18 at 16:23
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    Although your other answers have merit, this particular suggestion is actively harmful. Editing is an extraordinary privilege. It should be used to improve the post. Removing non-answer content means removing offensive content, troll-posts, thank-you lines and non-answers. Additional tangential information is always welcome. Hence, you have my upvotes on the other answers and this meta question, but not for this answer. – Simpleton Jul 23 '18 at 14:32
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    @Simpleton I understand your point, and that's why I didn't just directly edit it myself, but instead brought it up for discussion here. However, if something is truly tangential (such that nothing in the answer would be affected by removing it) then it's not really that "harmful" to remove it. Especially considering that according to this duplicate policy, including tangential information is actively harmful because it can prevent answers to other questions from being posted. Of course, though, this proposal is only if my other arguments aren't accepted. – Alex Jul 23 '18 at 14:46
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    This answer raises a point which is worth raising - namely, whether the answer to the old question necessarily needs to address the new question - but your suggested action is going too far. If, instead of suggesting that someone else edit out part of Sly's answer, you'd pointed out that she could remove that part without self-vandalism and without devaluing the answer to the original question, then this answer might have been better received. – Rand al'Thor Jul 23 '18 at 16:14
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    @Randal'Thor See the first sentence of my second-to-last paragraph: I would imagine that ideally, Slytherincess herself should edit her answer. – Alex Jul 23 '18 at 16:15
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    But we shouldn't expect or require her to do that. If you'd made the point that she could in theory do so without devaluing the answer, then OK - but asking her to do so isn't much more reasonable than doing it yourself. – Rand al'Thor Jul 23 '18 at 16:25
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    @Randal'Thor This answer to the Meta question I cited in my post, suggests suggesting to the answerer to remove the irrelevant content, and then removing it yourself if the answerer hasn't done so within a few days. – Alex Jul 23 '18 at 16:42
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    I'm not sure how Hogwarts student numbers isn't directly relevant to house quotas. Whatever the house quota is set at x28 would give you a reasonable approximation for Hogwarts student numbers, as such the information is incredibly relevant to the answer and shouldn't be removed. 2) you seem to be confusing general policy with specific action. We're talking about a specific situation in this meta question, not general policy. – Edlothiad Jul 24 '18 at 5:07
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    @Edlothiad The fact that knowledge of certain facts can lead you to figure out other facts doesn't mean that the other facts are necessary to answer a question about the certain facts. And note that that is not even what happened in this case. Nowhere in her answer did Slytherincess demonstrate a connection between the number of students she alleged, and her statement that there are probably not quotas. As The Lethal Carrot argued, the number of students set the scene and flowed into the discussion of quotas, which is the reverse of what you are saying. – Alex Jul 24 '18 at 18:49
  • @Edlothiad And that is apart from the point that this would only be true if the answer was that there are quotas, yet this answer argues that there are not quotas. And even if it did argue that there are quotas, knowing that there are quotas does not necessarily entail knowing what the quota is. And even if we knew what the quota is we would still not know the number of students; we would simply know that there must be < X. – Alex Jul 24 '18 at 18:54

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