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The answers to the question A word or expression for being paralyzed by fear or scare, like German Schockstarre [duplicate] have been merged into One word - someone so scared that he can't move [closed] because “it is an exact duplicate of that question.”

I think the result is "queer" with a number of suggestions that are repeated in different answers. Plus the latter question was better formulated and did show more effort in giving details about the expression the OP was looking for, while the original was more generic. For those who are convinced that it is an exact duplicate probably the best course of action was to close it as such, or simply delete the whole post.

And what about the next candidate as a duplicate: “paralyzed because of strong emotion” Is there an idiom or fixed-phrase which conveys this meaning?; should this question also be merged into the other two? Curiously, those who answered it missed the duplicate issue at that time.

  • @Mari-Lou A - so also the answers to the third question should be migrated. In the end we have one question with some answers which are repeated two or three times. Boh – user66974 Aug 3 '17 at 7:37
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    Wait...'merging' is a thing? If so, why aren't all duplicates ever enforcedly (by software or behavior) merged into the duplickee? – Mitch Aug 3 '17 at 13:21
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    @Mitch The main reason I've seen mentioned is because since they're often worded differently, duplicates serve as search query targets that can direct people to the canonical question, which is a vindicating purpose other closure reasons don't have. I'd also like to note that it also gives questions which were falsely identified as duplicates the chance to be reopened. The tricky matter of what to do with the duplicate answers would have also been avoided if it was merely marked as a duplicate, instead of merged. We probably need a separate meta question for that, if one doesn't already exist. – Tonepoet Aug 3 '17 at 17:21
  • Because it's unfair to Tonepoet that we continue bickering under his answer, allow me to bring it to the front line. You said in a comment: @Mari-Lou A you should probably apply your ethical qualms also to the following dupe english.stackexchange.com/questions/274984/… - ops, but there two answers of yours in that... – Josh 54 mins ago – Mari-Lou A Aug 5 '17 at 18:00
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    Two different answers that are not identical. Perfectly acceptable under normal SE guidelines. Do you want me to find the links that support this practice? I thought you said it was time to move on. the questions are merged and reopened now, just move on I see you're the one who can't move on. – Mari-Lou A Aug 5 '17 at 18:02
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    @Mari-LouA I think what Josh brought up goes too far off into an incidental subject to be productive here, since it does not relate to the problems caused by this merger, and should be taken to chat instead. However, as long as I am commenting, there is really no need: Multiple answers by the same person to the same question are "baked into the software" as some people might put it. I trust that Josh can easily go to any question he answered and see the "add another answer" checkbox and infer that short of an express prohibition, such as no duplicate answers, that we may post more than one. – Tonepoet Aug 5 '17 at 18:08
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I agree that the questions are effectively duplicates. Being paralyzed by fear, and scared motionless are conceptually as synonymous as I can imagine questions being.

My main criticism with what happened here is that the old question was closed (albeit for an unusual reason for this question category), and the new question had much more effort put into elaborating the concept. Moreover, the newer question seems like it's also a candidate for the tag, and seems like it might actually help more people. It's a much better example of how a question should be asked, and I think tchrist should recognize that given his answer to How Do I Write Good Answers? I say this because the newer question does seem to follow Yoichi's Oshi's example, or at least it does much moreso than the old one. (Yes, tchrist's answer attracted votes against it, but I think that is for reasons other than this advice.)

Now I do admit that there is a certain sort of logic to preferring the older questions too though. Namely, it encourages questioners to actually check for prospective duplicates before randomly asking the same question, and prevents fraudulent duplicates. Generally speaking, I would prefer the older question.

However, the plurality of factors seems to favor changing the canonical question, especially since all of this should most especially be considered with the apparent philosophy that closed questions are candidates for deletion and deleted questions don't count as duplicates. See this post by community moderator Grace Note on Information Security Meta and the following quotation from our help center's page on question deletion:

Over time, closed questions that are not useful as signpoints to other questions may also be removed, as well as questions which have no significant activity over a very long period after being asked. If you want to improve a question to keep it from being deleted, click the edit button beneath it.


This is not exactly my favorite policy, so I am hesitant to cite it, but that is strictly because I think preserving good answers may be worthwhile even if the question itself is bad and should be deleted. The ultimate goal of the website is to build a library of high quality answers afterall, as indicated in the tour:

English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. It's built and run by you as part of the Stack Exchange network of Q&A sites. With your help, we're working together to build a library of detailed answers to every question about English language and usage.


However, considering that the questions were being merged anyway, all of the answers would have been preserved too. With that in mind, I think preference should have been given to the new question when merging them together like this.

Granted, unlike Mari., I'm not factoring in how rep. is affected by the merging. I don't know how that works.

Regarding the next candidate, I would personally leave it alone. Although it is similar, and some of the same answers may apply, it does not regard a specific emotion, but just emotion generally. Perhaps this is a finer distinction than some people would make, but it's there.

  • Nice answer. But what about the duplicate answers after the merger. How does one understand that they are the result of merging two sets of answers from supposed duplicate questions. One might think it is that it is part of policy duplicating correct answers to get upvoted – user66974 Aug 3 '17 at 12:57
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    closed questions are candidates for deletion and deleted questions don't count as duplicates This is the crux of the matter for me. I have repeatedly seen the advice "If you want answers to a closed question, either edit it to bring it into line with site standards or ask a new question yourself". If we're serious about that, then closing questions that are properly researched and written because they are duplicates of questions that are NOT properly researched or written is ridiculous. – 1006a Aug 3 '17 at 15:33
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    @1006a Questions that are closed for being duplicates are (or should be) EXEMPT from deletion. There are hundreds of dupe questions with no answers that continue to exist and for good reason too. Please find posts on meta that talk about duplicates and why they are "good" and "welcomed". Now, are you going to say that the older question is worthless compared to the newer one when it is patently clear that the question, albeit worded differently, had already been asked before? Is not the fact that four out of the six answers were identical, proof itself? – Mari-Lou A Aug 3 '17 at 16:10
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    @Mari-LouA If the older question isn't worthless, then why is it closed? If closure means anything, then it ought to mean that the question is now "out of the game". If we are going to merge questions, then let's merge the older answers into the new, improved question rather than the other way around. We could still privilege those older answers over the newer duplicate answers (e.g. you could still delete Josh's answer and Hellion's new answer in favor of Hellion's older answer) but the newer, better question would be there and open, rather than having two closed questions. – 1006a Aug 3 '17 at 16:29
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    @Mari-LouA I don't care about those users' rep. I don't care about answering myself. I care that a good question got closed in favor of an older question that is so bad that it is closed. And while questions closed as dupes are protected from deletion, it's unclear to me whether the older question closed for lack of research is similarly protected. If so, is it fair to protect truly bad questions because of someone else's effort, with no reward for that user's effort? If not, doesn't that mean that eventually the newer question could be a dupe of a question that no longer exists? – 1006a Aug 3 '17 at 16:35
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    @1006a you should post your argument in an answer on meta otherwise we're just going to comment back and forth ad infinitum. – Mari-Lou A Aug 3 '17 at 16:38
  • @Mari-LouA I'll see what I can do. – 1006a Aug 3 '17 at 16:39
  • No answer yet on the double, triple duplicate answers under the same question. Is that ok? Is it an anomaly of the system? should anybody care ? – user66974 Aug 3 '17 at 16:52
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    @Josh I was somewhat hoping that the people with the duplicates would be good sports and delete them themselves. – tchrist Aug 5 '17 at 1:49
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    @tchrist - migrating the answers into an off-topic closed question was probably not the best course of action to take. The latter question had more merits than the "original" one, more details and a more specific request. But not all users are on the same page here. – user66974 Aug 5 '17 at 5:10
  • @Josh Is there one user who has said the two questions were not duplicates? I find it hugely unethical that you reopened a question because you had the dupe-hammer. It's called self-interest, and self-serving. If three other users had agreed it was not a duplicate then you could be forgiven for using that privilege. But as it is, the answers were absolutely IDENTICAL ergo the two questions were asking for exactly the same thing. – Mari-Lou A Aug 5 '17 at 5:26
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    I tell it like it is. And the same goes for Hellion and his copypasta answer which is crap. Just a link and nothing else. EL&U derides copypasta posts from NNSs and link only answers but when it comes from within their own ranks they keep schtum. – Mari-Lou A Aug 5 '17 at 5:34
  • the questions are merged and reopened now, just move on. – user66974 Aug 5 '17 at 5:44
  • @Mari-LouA - you should probably apply your ethical qualms also to the following dupe english.stackexchange.com/questions/274984/… - ops, but there two answers of yours in that... – user66974 Aug 5 '17 at 17:03
  • @Tonepoet - sorry for being unclear, but the focus of my last comment. was not the "multiple answer" aspect. I know it is perfectly correct to post more than one answer to a single question. – user66974 Aug 6 '17 at 4:45
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Why is it important to close a new question that is a duplicate as soon as possible?

  1. It prevents users from recycling old answers and earning easy rep.
  2. Instead of one question with a good set of answers, you start having two, three, four questions with identical answers, which is exactly what happened here. This is one of the most deleterious drawbacks with SWRs.
  3. The author of the new question finds his answer sooner. If none of the answers in the older question satisfy the OP, they can edit the new question explaining why the old answers did not help them and ask the community to reopen their question.
  4. So, just because someone asks the same question using a different wording, doesn't mean it doesn't belong. After all, it is still on-topic; thus, it doesn't have to be deleted. It's just that it has been answered already; thus, it should be closed. @RegDwigнt♦ (Oct 29 '10)

What is a merged question?

Questions can be merged by diamond moderators when one question is an exact duplicate of the other. Users cannot vote to merge questions, but they can flag for a moderator to do so (this should only be done in cases where the answers to the new question make sense as answers to the original, so they really need to be close to exact duplicates). SE Meta

Consequently, the right decision was made

I support 100% the logic that led to transferring the six answers to where they rightfully belong, on the older question. A question which earned 33 upvotes, been visited 14,898 times and attracted 12 answers before it was closed.

I am not able to find an appropriate word to fill in for "scared".

He was so scared, he couldn't move. He turned to stone.

He was too shocked. He almost turned to stone and could not move.

What would be a single word that has more intensity than scared or shocked. A word that can convey the figurative meaning of "he turned to stone".

[UPDATED Aug, 07] There are now

  • THREE    Two answers which suggest petrified
  • Two answers that suggest scared stiff
  • Two answers that suggest immobilise (immobilized)
  • Two answers that suggest transfix (transfixed)

TWO answers added new content

Deer in the headlights offered by ab2, and freeze suggested by Jasper Loy

I suggest that the answers posted on August 2, 2017, which are exact replicas of the aforementioned, be deleted.

What would be the disadvantage of such a measure? It will cause the OP (Josh) to lose 200 rep, an irrisory number compared to the 143K that he currently possesses. His answer petrified consists only of a dictionary citation and a link.

The deletion would also affect user Hellion but to a lesser degree, his answer scared stiff earned 5 upvotes. However, more than any other user, he must have been aware the “Shockstarre” question was a duplicate. His older answer that consisted of nothing but a single link was

He was either petrified or scared stiff.

(07 Aug, 2017) The answer was edited and now looks like this

Petrified is an excellent fit....

2: to make rigid or inert like stone
a : to make lifeless or inactive : deaden
b : to confound with fear, amazement, or awe
from m-w.com

An answer that might be penalised would be ab2's because the OLDER question asks for a word while hers is an idiom/expression. Perhaps, therefore, her answer could be transferred to "paralyzed because of strong emotion" Is there an idiom or fixed-phrase which conveys this meaning? which is still open. There is a variant, Be like a deer caught in the headlights, but the two suggestions are sufficiently different to live side by side.

  • What's the logic behind having three identical answers, or a series of two? if someone visits that question for the first time they will remain puzzled and would not understand why they all have upvotes. If the two latter questions are "duplicates" they should just be put on hold. – user66974 Aug 3 '17 at 7:51
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    @Josh that is why I have recommended that the duplicate answers be deleted. The question was a duplicate, and the newer answers prove this to be so. – Mari-Lou A Aug 3 '17 at 7:52
  • Whatever the case, migrating the answers creating duplicate answers is not a good solution. – user66974 Aug 3 '17 at 7:56
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    @JasperLoy very true let's hope you stay with us longer than Scaramucci :) – Mari-Lou A Aug 3 '17 at 11:17
  • I don't think my answer will be penalized because, despite the title of the Q, it has the tag "expression." Anyway, those who have voted have voted and mighty though moderators are, I don' think they can devote an answer 12 times!. They could, I suppose, delete it, but I don't think they will. – ab2 ReinstateMonicaNow Aug 3 '17 at 13:29
  • Your edits have created a strange incongruity in the answer. Why should the old answers be transferred, only to be deleted? – Tonepoet Aug 3 '17 at 17:23
  • @Tonepoet because having three answers on the same page that suggest "petrified" is redundant? Because reading "scared stiff" twice seems silly. Because users won't be able to upvote the "best" answer? – Mari-Lou A Aug 3 '17 at 17:25
  • @Mari-LouA Yes, I agree that's a problem now, but that could've been avoided if they were just left on the old page instead, which is how things usually are with questions marked as duplicates. It also seems like if we think the duplicate answers should be deleted on the basis that they are duplicates, it would have been more efficient to just do it directly, rather than migrate them first. Tchrist seems to have wanted to preserve these answers for some reason. – Tonepoet Aug 3 '17 at 17:33
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    My attitude on this one is "que sera, sera", but I am curious as to how my answer could be affected other than being deleted. And, since my answer is not a duplicate of any other answer, why it should be deleted. Answers that do not conform to the strict specs of the OP are at worst downvoted, unless they are VLQ. I suppose it could be deleted as NAA, but, as I said, I'm not going to expend energy on this. – ab2 ReinstateMonicaNow Aug 3 '17 at 19:01
  • @ab2 I never said your answer risks deletion, I mention penalise and by that, I am referring to DVs. Your answer could be DVed in future for not answering the question. That's all. – Mari-Lou A Aug 3 '17 at 19:06
  • OK, I can live with that risk. Thanks. – ab2 ReinstateMonicaNow Aug 3 '17 at 19:07
  • I was indeed aware, and finally improved my original answer that in no way deserved 150+ upvotes. :-) – Hellion Aug 7 '17 at 21:23
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    I do feel a bit bad for Christian, though, since his question is much more deserving of upvotes than weakphoneme's was, but he can no longer receive rep on a locked question. – Hellion Aug 7 '17 at 21:25
  • I'm puzzled by @ab2’s 19:01 comment: “Answers that do not conform to the strict specs of the OP are at worst downvoted, unless they are VLQ.”  (1) I’m not sure what “Answers that do not conform to the strict specs of the OP” means.  Is this a typo for “… the strict specs of the site”?  (2) What’s the difference between “not conform[ing] to … specs” and “VLQ”?  In the Low Quality Posts review queue, I continually see intelligible answers that answer the question being deleted because they don’t meet our high standards. – Scott Aug 7 '17 at 21:48
  • @ab2 OK, I got it. – Scott Aug 8 '17 at 0:01
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Yeah, maybe it wasn't a good idea to merge the answers for a good but duplicate question with the answers for a question already closed for lack of research and detail.

So, I merged the questions, and nominated the merged questions for re-opening.

If anyone thinks my actions were over-the-top autocratic, I don't agree, but the edited question can easily be rolled back, or edited further.

I recommend discussion of the solution in place here first.

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    This makes sense and looks more acceptable than the previous version. At least future visitors will understand why there are repeated answers, all with upvotes. I avoid VTR in this case. Last time I did I was literally insulted. Anyway thanks for this. – user66974 Aug 4 '17 at 7:45
  • It looks a mess. And I doubt it is an acceptable course of action. I would have first proposed it on meta and then waited to see what the mod team had to say. – Mari-Lou A Aug 4 '17 at 10:00
  • Did you ask any of the authors if they minded? No. You just jumped in and hi-jacked their posts, and on whose authority? Since when does a question have two distinct authors? I could rollback, but then that would start one of those editing games and we would be arguing who is right or not. You have taken an executive decision, but without being one, i.e. a mod. – Mari-Lou A Aug 4 '17 at 10:20
  • @Mari-Lou A - my view is that the two questions and answers had to remain separate, and the latter should have been put on hold by those who think it is a duplicate. Merging only the answers (did anybody ask the users who answered if they agreed?) gives an awkward, puzzling result with duplicate posts which visitors would not understand. JEL solution is the less evil as things stand now. – user66974 Aug 4 '17 at 10:46
  • @Josh in my view you should not have reopened the question after a mere twenty minutes. You were not acting selflessly. In my view. The better solution would be to delete the duplicate answers. In my view. – Mari-Lou A Aug 4 '17 at 10:51
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    That's your personal view, and I disagree. In any case the system should be able do deal with cases like this whatever our personal opinions are. Merging only the answers is not the solution. – user66974 Aug 4 '17 at 10:54
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    @Mari-LouA, I think the solution (the question is now re-opened) makes the best of a bad situation. (1) I seemed to recall being invited to 'rescue' questions with edits, especially in situations such as these. Here 2 questions are rescued. Its true the edit seems radical, but either of the authors involved can roll it back (or ask here for it to be rolled back...I don't recall the point requirements). (2) I don't see a downside: the only trouble I see is that the author of the duplicate does not get to 'accept' an answer, and that can be overcome with a minimal bonus offering. I didn't... – JEL Aug 5 '17 at 8:26
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    "hijack" their posts any more than anybody editing questions here does; if the questions are 'duplicates' in the rather odd sense employed at ELU, it is only commonsense to merge them in order to unravel the disorienting effects of the answers having been merged. (3) I don't see any reason to involve already hard-pressed moderators in a solution that can be (and has been) effected by the community. The moderators can and will take any steps they think are desirable with respect to this solution of a community problem or any other similar community solution. – JEL Aug 5 '17 at 8:31
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    Editing a closed question and adding the "research" so that it can be reopened is one thing. It is something which many users have done in the past with varying degrees of success. Copy and pasting someone else's query is something quite different. The only times I have seen this occurred is when the two questions were virtually identical, and this course of action has always been performed by a mod (as far as I am aware). A dupe, as I understand it, does not necessarily mean it is identical. – Mari-Lou A Aug 5 '17 at 9:18

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