Yesterday I edited a question that had been closed for 14 months as a duplicate of:
What's the source of "shipped" in a romantic sense?

The title was edited and changed to

Is “shipping” today's equivalent of “matchmaking”? [duplicate]

The inspiration behind the original post was left intact but I decided to broaden it, and ask whether today's shipping was possibly related to matchmaking and if movie/film fans of yore ever used it the same way that “shipping“ is used today.

In less than 12 hours the entire post was deleted by a script. Unfortunately, three users in the review queue voted to keep it closed, and in that short space of time, it also earned a downvote. This was enough for an unintelligent script to delete the post for being a ‘dead question’.

The question is deleted, and it remains closed. I posted an inquiry on Meta thinking that maybe the issue was a bug. I mean, deleting an edited post after only 12 hours is a bit nonsensical, if you ask me. And how could it ever receive an answer if it was closed for over 14 months? But apparently the script does not care if a question is a duplicate or not, as long as it has a negative score and there are no posted answers with a positive score; no question is exempt from the wrath of the script. Worth bearing in mind before any of us votes to close any SWR question in the future as a duplicate. So much for Artificial Intelligence.

I would like to hear from the three users who voted to keep it closed, their reasons for doing so. Did they consider the newly edited post to be still a duplicate? Was it off-topic? Low quality? Did it lack research?

Thank you.

  • 1
    Indeed, so much for AI. But AS is alive and well.
    – ab2
    Commented May 18, 2019 at 12:52
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    What’s wrong with using the dupe to post answers?
    – Dan Bron
    Commented May 18, 2019 at 13:59
  • @DanBron nothing at all, but the edited question was (is) broader. The two, I'd like to think, are not duplicates of each other. Not anymore. Related, yes. But not identical. Ah, maybe it was not clear. I wanted to reopen it, there's more detail over at Meta.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented May 18, 2019 at 14:03
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    For what it's worth, I just cast votes to both undelete it and reopen it. The fact that both of those things are allowed at the same time seems counterintuitive, but so does the perfect storm that allowed the question to end up in its current state. Commented May 18, 2019 at 17:34
  • 2
    Your question has just been refloated.
    – ab2
    Commented May 18, 2019 at 18:02
  • 2
    That's a surprise. Thank you all!
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented May 18, 2019 at 18:16
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    @ab2 Another example of AS as exemplified on the IPS meta site interpersonal.meta.stackexchange.com/a/3666
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented May 21, 2019 at 6:13

2 Answers 2


I was one of the users who voted to keep the question closed, and Tonepoet's answer explains the deficiencies in the question that I too had been concerned about. There'd been fair opportunity to edit it so that it was no longer a duplicate, but I'd also been concerned that the question was trying to cover too much territory: far too broad. If you counted them, there were nine separate questions in the body of the post.

I was therefore disappointed to see today that it had been reopened/undeleted but no effort had been made to address those quality issues that Tonepoet had articulated. As a result, I voted to close the reopened question for being too broad.

However, I'm glad Mari-Lou has had the good grace to overlook the unnecessary terseness of my original answer here (a bad night's sleep is a poor excuse), and the resulting edits today have both addressed my concern about broadness and substantially improved the quality of the question, so I've retracted my VTC. And (as as encouraged to do) I've posted my "null" answer.

  • Now an explanation for the downvote. As for the definition of "shipping" I explained very clearly what it is and there are TWO links, one to the older question and one to the Wikipedia. The title and the laat paragraph very clearly asks if "match making" was ever used by fans of yesteryear the same way that "shipping" is used today. How can that be a duplicate of the older question whose link I included?
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented May 24, 2019 at 5:08
  • The questions above the update were answered by the older question, how can you possibly have missed that or failed to have understood? Do you really think that the updated question is still asking about the origin of the slang term? Really?
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented May 24, 2019 at 6:19
  • I may modify the original post, but the question as it stands now is not a duplicate. You said it is too broad and voted to close it for that reason. As Tonepoet's answer also mentions the differences between the two terms, editing the post will need sensitivity.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented May 24, 2019 at 6:32
  • The question has been edited. I think it has been improved, so thanks for the wake up call. Looking forward to seeing your answer :)
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented May 24, 2019 at 8:56
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    Harsh. But edited to be suitable now (former question was "What are its roots?", edited current question is now "What did people used to say for 'shipping'?"). I don't think there was one but that's a viable answer (but that's a hard answer to give positive evidence for).
    – Mitch
    Commented May 24, 2019 at 14:47
  • @Mitch Actually MariLou's current question still literally has the question "What are its roots?" in it. It's one of the few questions which survived the edit. The other sentence I singled out did too come to think of it, and most of the effectively redundant ones were edited out, while most of the rest that I wasn't so concerned about, since I thought them mostly redundant with each-other, were edited out. Oh well. Anyway, thanks for verifying my suppositions here Chappo. It helps to know I can that analyze the circumstances appropriately without having to second guess myself.
    – Tonepoet
    Commented May 25, 2019 at 0:39

I'm not sure since our version of the help center has lacks some information, but it seems like Roomba does take pending reopening votes and duplicate status into consideration, but only from the time it is first old enough to be eligible for deletion until the time it is a month old. Those factors are no longer considered after that, which is likely in consideration of the notion that we should have had enough time to edit the question or determine that it has at least some content worth keeping by then.

Do keep in mind that while some duplicates are useful for the purposes of drawing in new users and redirecting them to the original question, this does not necessarily apply to every duplicate. If two questions were written in exactly the same way it seems obvious that we should delete one of the two or merge them. You can extrapolate this principle to suggest that a closed post without value should be deleted

Also, principally, a score of zero is either supposed to represent a question that either has no distinctive value, or does as much harm as good, and hence isn't worth keeping. The system is very liberal regarding what's preserved. It seems like the system will preserve any question with a positive score or an answer, if it is more than a month old. Now I'm not saying that the question was utterly without value in its present form (I wouldn't have tried to answer it otherwise), but the bot can't read your question to know the difference, so it was just crunching the numbers.

Further complicating matters is that yes, you edited the post so that it was no longer fully a duplicate, but in doing so you changed the scope from an question to a question. If the second half of the revised question had been posted as its own question, I think it could've stood on its own without being nominated as a duplicate. That may have have been better for the site since the old question could still serve as a redirect, and the new question could have drawn more attention to itself, and be rated freshly on its own merits rather than having its score intermingled with the old one. However, that's not really my point: My point is that the people who designed the bot probably anticipated it operating on questions that were more similar to their original form than dissimilar, so it's no surprise that making such a transformative edit might break the system, in hindsight.

What happened here seems like a freak accident, and nothing more.

Regarding the main feature of the question, perhaps I should not speak for others, but since nobody else is offering any insight regarding why it was closed, here are a couple of problems I see with the question as it stands:

The first is that it still seems like a partial duplicate. Why? Well you left the entire first half of the question completely unedited, so it still contains some overlap with the scope of the older question:

  • "If it's an established slang expression, how on earth did it come about?"
  • "What are its roots?"

Like I said, right now the question reads much moreso like a question.

The second is that the question is very, very broad. It seems like it should be broken up into two or maybe even three separate questions. One is the question that it originally duplicated. The bulk of your edit seems like a question.

And finally this portion at the end is more like a :

Did movie/film fans of yore ever used “matchmaking” the same way that “shipping“ is used today? If not, what was said instead?

We really aren't supposed to ask multiple questions in a post, for the purposes of indexing and keeping questions manageable. Questions which ask multiple questions were always meant to be closed as Too Broad. Also, I'm not sure if you folk noticed since we rarely ever use that closure reason, but it was changed to try and clarify its purpose.

Please edit the question to limit it to a specific problem with enough detail to identify an adequate answer. Avoid asking multiple distinct questions at once. See the How to Ask page for help clarifying this question.

To be honest, I almost didn't answer the question at all, because I struggled to think of the words that might match, and I didn't want to leave a partial answer. Thankfully I remembered reading the Variety article in the past which served as a helpful reminder. People with more specialized knowledge probably shouldn't feel like they have to contribute three distinct pieces of knowledge in order for their answer to be useful. Yeah, I know that Stack Exchange does technically encourage partial answers, but sometimes I feel as if there are some very exacting standards here and a partial answer is never really ideal if we could have a complete one instead.

If a question has a narrower scope, it also helps to write shorter answers that are more readable, or at least give the matter extra thorough treatment for posts of the same length.

As you already know, reviewers will usually elect to keep a question closed if they observe even one applicable closure reason, since each user can only vote to close or reopen once.

Now personally, I don't even mind the at the end too much because it has enough of cognizable relationship to the question to fit into a single narrative regarding the word's . It implies that you want to know what purpose the newly clipped word uniquely serves.

However, etymology falls under an almost entirely different scope than meaning, and since we already have a question, my advice would be to edit the question to remove the listed questions regarding the term's roots, so that people can submit distinct answers trying to antedate the X-Files watchers or Dengeki Pikachu readers to the earlier question. It would help to narrow the scope and avoid the impression that it is a duplicate.

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    But you posted an answer? I don't understand. I like my question as is, I didn't ask for it to be undeleted or reopened. I wanted to know why those users voted to keep it closed. It's clearly no longer a duplicate. The question is still related to etymology because knowing what term was used before "shipping" is asking about its history. I am asking whether in the past matchmaking was used to express a fans' desires for a famous couple to form a romantic relationship. I supplied a brief summary to the origins and meaning of "shipping" and this can fall under research.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented May 19, 2019 at 17:29
  • The first two paragraphs are repetitive, I explained why the post was deleted by the system, it had a minus score, there were no answers posted, and any question is viable for deletion after 30 days if it meets that criteria. I thought it might have been a bug because it was deleted after only 12 hours. I gave the link, did you miss it? It's all there. BTW my editing and changing the scope had little to to do with it, just another downvote and the script would have deleted it even if the post hadn't been touched. It already had -3 and +3 (0) when I opted to cast my vote voted to reopen.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented May 19, 2019 at 17:45
  • Now the question can have -10 but it won't be deleted because your answer has a positive score. And if someone else posts another answer, and that too is upvoted, the question is safe from that stupid script.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented May 19, 2019 at 17:48
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    @Mari-LouA Yeah, why not try to answer a decent question? Anyway, I enjoy thoroughly evaluating principles and iterating my thoughts. I am also averse to brusque language. I might've written the whole first half of this answer on meta S.E. if your question wasn't closed, since I thought a more principled explanation was needed, but it's closed. Also, those people haven't yet answered, so I figured the next best thing may be some insightful guesswork might be to satisfy your curiosity and offer some friendly advice for your consideration. I am sorry that I only managed to confuse you.
    – Tonepoet
    Commented May 19, 2019 at 18:58

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