I have a question about my Physics Stack Exchange post: Is the normal force conservative?

The question was marked as a duplicate. However, as I explained when I first asked it, the answer to the "duplicate" post was unclear and contradicted my previous knowledge. I was merely bringing up an example where the question's answer caused confusion.

However, it has already been marked as a duplicate, and although I edited the post to explain why it wasn't, it is unlikely the question will be answered. How (and if this happens in the future) can I still get my question answered without reposting (in which it may be yet again marked as a duplicate)?


2 Answers 2


The first thing you need to do is read the "target" (that is, the question that yours was marked as a duplicate of) very carefully, and also carefully consider any feedback you've gotten from people explaining why your question is considered a duplicate. Do your best to understand why they see your question as being already covered by the target question. Remember, people marked your question as a duplicate because they are trying to be helpful: they're pointing you to a resource that, they believe, will give you the information you need.

Bear in mind that duplicate status is determined by the questions, not the answers. If the answers to the target question do not answer what you're asking, that does not keep the questions from being duplicates.

You can proceed in one of two ways:

  1. If you have something to ask that the target question does not, then you should edit your post to very clearly identify what it is you want to ask that is not covered by the target. In most cases, you should include a link to the target when you clarify why the target does not cover what you are asking.

    Do keep in mind that, if you go this route, it's your responsibility to get people to understand what you're asking that the target doesn't cover. In a sense, once something is marked as a duplicate, we take a "duplicate until proven otherwise" approach.

    As always when editing, do not include comments or complaints about the question itself or people's response to it - that is, things like "People are saying this is a duplicate of target but it's really not." That doesn't belong in the question. Just ask what you want to ask, and include just enough information to narrow down your question so that it's different from similar questions like the target.

  2. The alternative is to try to draw attention to the target, and hope someone will give it a satisfactory answer. As a new member of the site, there isn't that much you can do on this front, but if you are able to participate in chat, you might find a high-reputation user who can set a bounty on it to draw attention. Or if you can find something to edit in the question that will improve it, that will bump it to the top of the main page for a little while, which also brings attention to it. (But use edits sparingly - excessive bumping can be considered abuse of the site.)


I suspect that part of the problem is that you are unclear what you mean by normal force. In the duplicate this is taken to mean a force normal to the direction of motion. Since work is given by integrating F.dx when F and dx are normal the work is going to be zero.

You mention an elevator, but there the force is in the direction of motion not normal to it because both point vertically up or down. In that case I'm guessing you mean that the force is normal to the surface (i.e. the floor of the lift) that the force is acting on, which is a different meaning of normal force.

Your edit to your question just says the answers to the other question are unacceptable - see David's answer for why this isn't going to get the question reopened. If you wanted to clarify your question, in the light of my comments above, and make it clear why what you are asking is different to the previous question then I would certainly reconsider my close vote.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I don't really understand your point about normal forces. A normal force isn't "normal to the direction of motion"; it's "normal to the surface"; just the way he used it. I've never seen it used as "normal to the motion" besides in cases where that is also normal to the surface. $\endgroup$
    – JMac
    Jul 3, 2017 at 12:37

You must log in to answer this question.

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