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So I just asked http://mathoverflow.net/questions/22837/what-are-the-uses-of-the-homotopy-groups-of-spheres and jc and Andrea spotted that it was sort of related to http://mathoverflow.net/questions/16495/applications-of-homotopy-groups-of-spheres. I like to think that my version was a better question (well, I would, wouldn't I? But it also seems backed-up by the comments and answers to the two questions) and I think it has also garnered better answers.
So my main question: should I do anything about this? Should the moderators? Should I walk down Olav Tryggvasons gate in sackcloth and ashes?
Here are the options I can see:
The last option is the most appealing to me if it can be done without anybody objecting. But it's an irreversible procedure (unlike closing), so I really want to make sure it's the right thing to do.
Since the second question is more articulated than the first and got better answers, I think things may be left as they are now. Also, I do not see the difference between options 2 and 3 of Anton.
@Andrea: The result of closing one of the questions would be a question with 7 answers and another question with 3 answers, only one of which you could add a new answer to. On the other hand, the result of merging the questions would be a single question with 10 answers.
The original topic was clearly awful. It was something about homotopy groups of spheres being related to primes. I think that it's just a coincidence that the names were similar.
@grp: I'd rather leave both questions open. I feel like increasing the number of pages you have to visit to get to the answers is a pretty bad thing. Right now it's two. I'd like it to go down to one, but I really don't want it to go up to three.
@Anton: Ok, I misinterpreted the sentence "Also, it might make sense to merge the contents of the two questions into the one that remains open." as implying that one would also copy the answers.
Morally, I'm in the wrong as mine was the second question and I should have seen the first. However, joking and modesty aside, I do think that mine was the better question so I would want mine to be the dominant question in a merge (if a merge is chosen).
It's possible that if I'd seen that original question then I wouldn't have asked mine. However, it's also possible that I would have seen it, read it, thought something similar to what Harry just said, and then been in a quandary about what to do. Pete's challenge was just so irresistible to my inner algebraic topologist (and, clearly, to others) that I'd want to have somewhere to record good answers. So my choice then would have been to either post the question anyway (with a link to the original and an explanation of why I didn't like it) or to edit the original, essentially imposing my question over the top (and thus making the original answers look daft).
So it goes back to the lesser-of-two-evils question: is it worse to post a question that is essentially a duplicate, but somehow better phrased, or to edit an old question (the age should be taken into account here: I think it is more acceptable to edit a fresh question than an old one, especially when the old one has some comments and answers)? I can anticipate several answers on the basis of what one should do in the best of all possible worlds, but there's also a pragmatic angle: if I'd just edited the original question, would anyone have looked at it? I judge it a higher priority to have good answers (to good questions) than to have a minimum number of links to click when searching for a particular question. Thus I would accept a small amount of crud to avoid missing the gems.
(To be clear: I'm arguing from the lesser to the greater here; I wouldn't classify the original homotopy-of-spheres question as "crud" nor mine as a "gem". Also, note that I said "a small amount"; clearly either extreme is wrong and the question is more about where to draw the line.)