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Sometimes a newer question gets a better answer before it's discovered that a similar question was answered previously. If the newer question is marked as a dupe of the older question, most people will never see the answer on the "dupe" and thus won't see that it's better. You need to know how the site works and vigilantly follow links around to find these.

In this case I'm concerned with these two questions:

I tink jpatokal's answer on the latter question is the best of the three answers, but you have to know to look in the "Linked" section in the right column to see if any of those are duplicate questions, and then you have to click on each one (well only one in this case but on SO there can be many) to see if any have answers. Often less people have seen those answers so they'll have fewer votes even if they're better.

So is there a way to truly merge these so that all answers appear on one page?

Or should I ask jpatokal to move his answer to the first question, copy his answer, or submit a new answer to that question?

What would happen if the answerer is no longer around to ask?

Do we already have any methods for addressing such problems?

11

It is indeed possible to merge questions, but by default they're closed as duplicates rather than merged together. You can read more about merged posts in this Meta post. If you see a question that deserves merging, please flag it for the mods and we'll be happy to do it.

I've merged the two questions you've linked, so @jpatokal's answer is now available in the original question too. I've also imported the title from the newer question as its more descriptive.

  • 2
    Thanks for the edit to that proposed FAQ. I was wondering the same thing (hence the "information needed" edit), but thanks for testing it out. – gparyani Apr 22 at 8:07
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Ideally, when identifying duplicates this is done quickly enough to prevent any answer being added to the new question. Sometimes, somebody answers faster than the question can be labelled as a dupe.

If that happens, there is on rule that requires the newer question to be the dupe and the older one to be the dupe target. If the newer question/answer combination are better, nothing is lost by making the old one a duplicate of the new one.

In cases where there is not one clearly better set of question/answer, merging or editing may be necessary.

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