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This originally came up in association with Sci fi book where humanoid aliens murder a researcher by killing him and cutting him open, where the answer was determined to be Speaker For The Dead. My belief has been that if the same work (in the same medium) is the answer, then the policy is that they are duplicates even if the questions hold little to no common points, which would make it a dupe of What is Series Where There is an AI Born on the Solar System-Wide Network. Leaving aside the interpretation of whether the answers are the "same" if they're the same work, but on different points (apparently, that's more debated than I thought), a search through the questions also brought up questions for Xenocide, and I suspect there are probably other story-identification questions for books in the Ender series. I had thought that it was settled that questions about books in a series were meant to be brought together, but it looks like there wasn't much consensus. Also, the more I researched for the "it's the same work, so it's the same", I see upvoted dissenting opinions, so I'm not certain if it actually is policy.

TL;DR, should we mark this specific case as a Duplicate? Should we craft a question/answer that covers all of the Ender books such that we can bring these other ID questions into it?

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    Haha. I'm reading the question and thinking; this is a question that will probably be answered by FuzzyBoots (and/or another one of a select small group that I can think of); then I get to the end ;-)
    – Basya
    Dec 6, 2023 at 9:36
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    The Enderverse is pretty big; as an answer to someone looking to id a specific storyline/book, I don't think it gives the questioner a specific enough answer.
    – Basya
    Dec 6, 2023 at 9:49
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    Huh. A couple of users have gone ahead and decided on a target on their own.
    – DavidW
    Dec 6, 2023 at 15:44
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    @DavidW - I would have done the same thing
    – Valorum
    Dec 6, 2023 at 16:27

1 Answer 1

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If questions are identifiably about different works that are part of a single series, then they are not duplicates. Some series are extraordinarily expansive, and it would be no use to make every question about identifying a particular Spider-Man or Fantastic Four storyline as a dupe of a general question about the Marvel Universe; or duping questions about Rogue One and Return of the Jedi; or, for a single-author example, it makes no sense for an identification question about Pebble in the Sky to be a dupe of one that is (primarily) about Second Foundation. You get the idea.

Of course, things get trickier when things are less clear cut. It becomes a judgement call, and I think that questions should be considered duplicates when they are mostly about the same work in a series, even if there are allusions to other works in the series as well. Unfortunately, people's memories about how many books* in a given series they read are not going to be perfect, so it's not uncommon to muddle up elements from a sequel with ones from the first volume. For example of this policy in action, this question that I answered is most about Gateway by Frederik Pohl, even though it also mentions elements drawn from the next book the Heechee Saga, Beyond the Blue Event Horizon (and maybe the earlier short work, "The Merchants of Venus" as well). That question was marked as a duplicate of another one about Gateway, although the accepted answer to the old question specifically mentioned that it was the first book in the series. In contrast, if questions are clearly principally about different works in the same series, even if there are minor references to other works in one or both questions, in such a way that there is a small amount of overlap, I don't think they qualify as duplicates. (If there is really a lot of overlap in a question between different books in a series, then the series as a whole may be a better answer than any individual book, even if the querent misremembers only reading a single work.)

Where things get trickiest—and where I have never figured out a coherent answer, even for what to do myself—is when one question is clearly asking about an entire series (or, at least, multiple books in a single series), while another question is quite specific to a single book in the series. If the first (series) question doesn't mention anything about the specific book the second (book) question is interested in, I would definitely not consider them duplicates. However, when the specific book is mentioned as just one among many, I don't see a clear answer for what to do, and I suspect that it may not be desirable (or even necessarily possible) to devise a blanket policy to cover these cases. In these kinds of edge cases, it may just be best to open a specific meta question about the posts involved and let the wisdom of the crowd (even if, in cases like this, the crowd that responds is probably going to be limited to at most fifteen well-known users) decide what to do in that case.

*I will refer to books for the sake of concreteness, but obviously the same reasoning applies to films and other media as well.

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    I tend to edit ID answers about a series to include at least the first book in the series. "This is x series" becomes "This is x series, the first book of which is y". That then allows duping to take place.
    – Valorum
    Dec 7, 2023 at 0:37

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