Sometimes I discover that "old" MO questions are duplicates of even older MO questions.

Two examples:

Now, I can vote to close the newer questions as duplicates (which I've tried to do)- but because these questions are not active, they are very unlikely to attract enough votes for this to work.

I wouldn't want these questions outright removed, of course, since often the duplicate questions contain non-duplicative answers.

In fact, what I have done so far is put a comment (in both of the questions) linking the two questions which are duplicates. This should help somebody who discovers the question later and might want to see all the various perspectives on it.

So: what should be done in cases like these?

(A related question would be: are there ways to improve detection of duplicate questions, especially as the database of questions answered on MO continues to grow larger and larger. As you can see in these examples, the "original" questions are from quite a while ago.)

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Isn't a simple if perhaps unsatisfying answer that, if a question isn't active enough to attract more votes to close as duplicate, then it's not really disturbing anyone to have that unnoticed duplicate around? $\endgroup$
    – LSpice
    Commented Oct 2, 2020 at 3:13
  • $\begingroup$ It is possible to merge two questions so that "the various perspectives" don't get lost. I'm sure this has to be done by a moderator, so I suppose the thing to do is to flag for moderator attention and explain that you want to see the questions merged (or, the answers to the duplicate appended to the older question). $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 2, 2020 at 7:26
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    $\begingroup$ Since Gerry Myerson mentioned merging, I will add a link to this: What is the procedure to initiate merging of questions? (Of course, even if two questions are duplicates, merging is not always suitable/possible.) $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 2, 2020 at 11:17
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    $\begingroup$ Re: because these questions are not active, they are very unlikely to attract enough votes for this to work. I will just remind you that if you vote to close some question, it is then pushed into the close votes review queue. On a site which is healthy, there is enough users who visit review queues and they will notice the question. (And, based on their judgement, they might vote for or against closing as a duplicate.) $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 2, 2020 at 11:20
  • $\begingroup$ Related SEDE queries: Recent close reviews and Recent invalidated close reviews (The data in SEDE are updated only once a week, so the link in the previous comment is better - but it will only show the full review history to 10k+ users. Results of SEDE queries can be seen by anybody.) $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 2, 2020 at 11:21
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    $\begingroup$ cross-linking seems a good solution, if needed add explication why its a duplicate, as that might not be obvious ... $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 3, 2020 at 3:58


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