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I answered this question the other day. It was one of those cases when I just happened to see it right as it was posted and it was a fun question that I knew something about. So I gave an answer (which received more votes than it probably merited). I'm not in the habit of searching for duplicates before answering (especially when searching for a duplicate is more difficult than answering). It turns out that this was a duplicate and was closed as such.

My question is: what will happen to a question that was closed because it was a duplicate? I suspect that it will be (at some future date) deleted. If this is the case, do answers to the duplicate get deleted as well? or are they migrated as a (late) answer to the original question? Does any of this change if the new (closed) question has more upvotes/views than the original question (open)?

My personal test for "duplicate" is: Would an answer to question A answer question B just as well? If so, then question A and B are duplicates. In this case, answers could be moved (without loss of context) and preserved. Of course there are two issues that you'd run into: duplicate answers and having to resolve which answer is the "accepted" answer.

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  • $\begingroup$ Moderators have the ability to merge questions (but the posts need to be almost completely identical, because the answers need to answer to the old question as is). $\endgroup$ – Najib Idrissi Jun 11 '15 at 17:53
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    $\begingroup$ Duplicates can be useful, and are not usually deleted. Even closed questions with good answers [read: upvoted answers] are not auto-deleted. $\endgroup$ – Asaf Karagila Jun 11 '15 at 18:10
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For duplicates, usually nothing happens. Sometimes the questions are merged, moving all answers to one copy of the question. But this is something only moderators can do. And to do this, moderators have to consider whether the questions are sufficiently similar so that putting all the answers together will not be more confusing than helpful.

Other kinds of closed questions are far more likely to be deleted. To avoid potential loss of an answer, one can consider improving the question and/or reopening. Or saving the answer elsewhere (e.g., turning it into a blog post) if the question is unsalvageable.

The query My answers to closed questions can help in finding answers in such a precarious position. I run it occasionally, and either delete those answers (if they haven't been accepted) or try to make a case for reopening. (For the latter, there is a meta thread and a dedicated chat room.)

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  • $\begingroup$ Very helpful, thanks! $\endgroup$ – Robert Lewis Jun 12 '15 at 21:55

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