Suppose we have a question

Why X?

and it has an accepted answer. Now suppose another user posts

Why X? Specifically, what is the mathematical description of X?

We might go ahead and mark the second question as a duplicate of the first. However, I'm not certain this is the best thing to do from a utilitarian point of view. The author of the second question does not seem to have a way of getting the mathematical perspective on X via the existing question for the following reasons:

  1. He/she cannot accept a different answer on that question.

  2. (Wrong! see below) He/she cannot draw attention to it by setting a bounty because there's already an accepted answer.

  3. Posting a comment on the first question would get the attention only of the first question's author.

  4. Even if the author of the second question could draw attention to his/her desire for a mathematical perspective, people are less likely to take time to write a nice new answer to the first question because there is less rep to be gained.

I'm wondering whether questions asking for a specific perspective on X should be allowed even if X has been explained previously.

What do you think?

Turns out you can set bounties on questions with accepted answers. Perhaps this is the best way to get new/different answers to these questions!

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ 2 is not true - having an accepted answer does not prevent placing bounties. $\endgroup$
    – ACuriousMind Mod
    Jun 29 '15 at 9:15
  • $\begingroup$ @ACuriousMind this is contrary to what I'm looking at right now, which probably means I need to go to sleep. $\endgroup$
    – DanielSank
    Jun 29 '15 at 9:18
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @ACuriousMind Yup, I'm dumb. Thanks. $\endgroup$
    – DanielSank
    Jun 29 '15 at 9:19

This is a purely personal viewpoint, and not a comment on the site rules, but unless a question is an exact duplicate I'm not sure it does any harm to allow it through. With potential duplicates it's often the case that the second question has a different emphasis to the first and as a result will attract different answers. I have answered a question knowing that it's a duplicate (though not an exact one) because I thought I could make a point that wouldn't be appropriate for the first answer.

The site's long term aim is to be a searchable repository of knowledge. If we ended up with dozens of duplicate questions and answers then that makes searching hard, because it makes it hard to find the best or most definitive answer. If it's just a single duplicate, or a few duplicates, and they have a different emphasis then I think that makes it more likely the searcher will find exactly what they are looking for.

In your case I would look at both questions. You've obviously given rather abbreviated examples so it's hard to tell how different they are, but in real life the first question would probably be from a beginner wanting a simple explanation and the second from a more advanced student wanting a more rigorous answer. If so my instinct would be to allow both. That way a future searcher of the site would find exactly the question they want whether they are a beginner or an advanced student.


You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .