We are getting more merger requests these days, most of them quite valid. As the site grows, we will probably see even more of them. They may need a little further discussion, however, as the same person often answers each of the questions involved in a merger.

How do we want to deal with mergers involving answers from the same persons spread across multiple questions involved in the merger? Here are a couple options:

  1. Leave all the answers alone, and let each one, even if they are from the same answerer, be voted up on their own merit.
  2. Copy the contents of one (or more, if there is more than two) into the other, and delete the ones copied. This should leave the rep in tact, however there is no way to actually remove the rep from the deleted answers and add it to the kept answer. Answer coherency may suffer, multiple edits or rework by the original answerer may be required.
  3. Keep only one answer, delete the rest, and do not merge content. Rep should be maintained, and only one answer, which should be coherent and useful, will remain.

It may be that we take it on a case by case basis, however there are currently few rules to work by regarding when we apply any given rule. Wiki answers would probably suffer least from option #1.

3 Answers 3


My vote is for

  1. Leave all the answers alone, and let each one, even if they are from the same answerer, be voted up on their own merit.

The respondent can choose to modify his answers accordingly.

But, when merging the question, I strongly suggest the text of the individual questions be retained as separate paragraphs together with the questioner's name. This will allow us the gauge differences in nuance, content and intent.

  • 1
    #1 definitely. If this situation arises, the person executing the merge should comment on one or both of the answers so that the user gets a notification in his inbox.
    – Evan Krall
    Apr 5, 2011 at 6:24
  • I like this option best myself...it certainly lowers the workload. It also seems to fit best with the nature of the StackExchange Network, which everyone is already familiar with.
    – jrista
    Apr 6, 2011 at 3:01

We don't see this very often on Stack Overflow, which is 1000x as large, so I think you might be prematurely optimizing a bit here.

Still, good to think about, I suppose -- and I'd favor #1 mostly with #2 if the answers are similar enough to be combined and you feel strongly enough about it.


My vote is for 2, which is to merge the answers. It should not be done blindly but I've seen many times where it makes sense, particularly when one or both of those answers have been accepted.

An example that comes to mind is when a question like 'What are the advantages of X?' was merged with 'What are the disadvantages of X?' into the question 'What are the advantages and disadvantages of X?'. Accepted answers to these merged questions had virtually no overlap and cannot really be voted relative to each other.

  • If we were to merge answers, how, exactly, would we go about it? What factors do we use when determining what parts of each answer to keep, which parts to throw away? How do we judge whether answers really should be merged, vs. when they should remain distinct? I am not particularly against merging answers per say, however if we do merge them, I think we need to have some guidelines that describe how and when.
    – jrista
    Apr 6, 2011 at 23:19
  • On the flip side, if we mods leave the answers alone, it can be left up to the original answerers to merge their own answers, if they see fit. They are more qualified to merge them to start with, as they have more insight into their own answers that can guide them when they merge two (or more) into a single answer. I don't really feel all that great about making judgment calls about someone else's content, especially when it may involve removing certain content that the original answerer may see as important.
    – jrista
    Apr 6, 2011 at 23:21
  • Assuming people moderate and not robots ;) I think judgment on how to merge can be left as an excersize to the moderator. As a starting point just putting answer on top of the other will do. Then redundancies can be edited out later as needed. Putting a comment to the answerer can help.
    – Itai
    Apr 6, 2011 at 23:39
  • If we are going to just put one answer on top of the other, I would opt to leave the answers as-is. There is no way to merge votes, and each answer probably stands better on its own. I would think it best to let the original authors decide whether to merge their answers at that point, rather than have a moderator merge them and have to delete an answer that quite likely has useful upvotes.
    – jrista
    Apr 7, 2011 at 0:46

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