So, this question came up about locating duplicate photos and it is, with respect to the actual question, a duplicate of a similar one asked three years ago. The problem with the earlier question is that the answers are either dated or ones that, today, would be flagged for deletion. In other words, yes, technically this is a dupe, but the original isn't worth anything to a newcomer asking the same question.

Now, as pointed out, we have an earlier meta question on this topic that doesn't have a whole heck of a lot voting and even, if you read the comments, talks to the question of aged out duplicates. This isn't really what I'd call a strong consensus. Even then, we had more than 3 or 4 core users...

Regardless, the problem with that meta question is that it presumes that old question has information worth resurrecting and that the people interested in the answer have sufficient reputation to revive it for that purpose. The OP in the new version of this question does not have the rep, so that avenue doesn't really exist. So, at this point, he seems to be faced with dated and useless answers, that we're potentially going to tell him to do, and no real way to fix it. That doesn't strike me as a way to encourage continued participation of newbies, nor does it really indicate a strong evidence of "expert" in our responses that would further encourage them.

I'm all for shutting down a question as a duplicate when old answers are still useful, but what do we do when this isn't the case? Thoughts on this?

  • A thought about a "google answer"™. If anything stays up to date over the years it has to be Google. Of course it is a rude answer to tell the OP to just google it, but you can soften it by giving an exact search string to use, guaranteed to find the thing the OP needed to find. I tried the search string given in the top-voted answer; it works. After all, answers to software-recommendation questions tend to age fast and the "google answer"™ actually is the one that stays up to date! Mar 20, 2014 at 7:02
  • @EsaPaulasto - That's potentially true of any question here really. The easiest answer in the world is to tell them to look elsewhere. In fact, one of the comments on the question did just that, suggesting that it's a possible duplicate of a question on another SE site! Seriously? That's how we're doing duplicates now?
    – Joanne C
    Mar 20, 2014 at 10:38
  • Yeah, you're right of course. I was thinking only the software recommendations. That duplicate hunting comment made me smile :D Mar 20, 2014 at 11:01

2 Answers 2


I do not see any reason why we could not clean up the old topic, delete answers that would be deleted today, then merge THAT one into the NEW one. I think the "requirement" that directionality of merges should always be to merge new into old is unnecessary. I think that leads to some problems, as you have noted here. I think directionality should be from "poorer quality" to "higher quality", regardless of what direction in time that ends up being. I'd also say that regardless of how it affects google. Google will get things right eventually, and anyone who lands on the closed merged topic will have that handy little link to bring them to the open topic.

Now, I know you've already taken action, but I wouldn't be so quick to rely on always merging "new into old" when it doesn't seem appropriate.

  • 2
    I didn't merge, since the new one didn't have answers, but I didn't really spend time on the old one. It was more about being inviting to a newcomer, pushing them off to see an old question with less than useful responses for the sake of duplication avoidance seemed to be a poor way to go about it.
    – Joanne C
    Mar 22, 2014 at 19:10

This is exactly the problem you run into when a question isn't closed as too localized, as the original should have been years ago. "What software to use?" is always a bad question because answers are subjective and age quickly.

Both the original and the new question should be closed due to too localized, or whatever the new PC way of saying that is now.

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