There are a bunch of questions that ask about adjective order, and most of them are closed as dupes of the original What is the rule for adjective order? asked 12+ years ago.

There are three questions that I'm concerned about:

All of these questions ask about the reason and the history of the rules, not just the specifics of them- they shouldn't have been closed as duplicates, though some comments say that they may be too linguistic in nature for EL&U.

Until today, the status of the three questions stood as follows:

  • [Q1] was closed as a duplicate of the old original question

  • [Q3] was closed as a duplicate of the old original question

  • [Q2] was closed as a duplicate of [Q3], even though it's older than [Q3]

Today, [Q1] was re-opened. I edited [Q3] and added it to review with the intention of having it re-closed as a duplicate of [Q1], after which we might get the order:

[Q2] is a dupe of [Q3] which is a dupe of [Q1]

Note: [Q3] has not yet been re-closed as a duplicate of [Q1]. I've added this goal in the edit summary, we'll see if it works out that way.

I'm posting this meta-question in order to clarify my intent, as well as to seek input: Does this sound like the right way to go about resolving the confusion? Is there any other established guideline to use?

Edit: Turns out that questions can't be closed as dupes of questions without answers, which means that [Q1] has to be closed as a dupe of [Q3].

[Q1] and [Q2] are both dupes of [Q3]

This seems a little unfair because [Q3] is the newest to be posted, so if anyone can figure out a way around this, please share.

[Q3] and [Q1] are both open right now.

  • Note that moderators (and gold tag badge holders) can edit the list of duplicates so that both closed duplicates point to each other too.
    – Laurel Mod
    Commented Jul 13, 2023 at 17:42
  • 1
    Note that -you- can vote to close Q3 as a duplicate of Q1... tries to vote to close as duplicate ... Oh. Hm... no you can't, and nobody can. Just try it. (Q1 has no answers and presumably the system only allows it to be the original if it has at least one upvoted answer). So maybe you should rethink your dupe ordering.
    – Mitch
    Commented Jul 13, 2023 at 21:01
  • Ever elusive are the whys and wherefores of natural language regulations.
    – tchrist Mod
    Commented Jul 13, 2023 at 23:49
  • @Mitch - I didn't realize there was such a restriction. I wonder if tag-badge holders can. Commented Jul 14, 2023 at 14:12
  • 3
    Are you assuming here that the chronology should be the overriding consideration in what is a duplicate of what? It seems to me that it would be much more helpful to close as duplicates the questions with no answers or with not-very-good answers, and leave open the one with the best answers (regardless of whether it is the earliest).
    – jsw29
    Commented Jul 15, 2023 at 15:15
  • @jsw29 - I just thought it was unfair to do so, and perhaps that's because one of the questions involved is my own, but you're also right. Maybe not the overriding consideration, but I think it should be one. Commented Jul 15, 2023 at 15:51
  • 1
    Is there an answer to the reason for adjective order? If there isn't, just say so and close them all. We don't owe anybody speculation. Commented Jul 15, 2023 at 23:30
  • 1
    When, as in this case, there is a cluster of duplicates, I think that, however one decides what the 'original' is, it is important that all the duplicates point directly to the original. It is frustrating to those who land on a particular page to be told that the question is a duplicate of X, only to then, when they come to X, be told that it is a duplicate of Y, etc.
    – jsw29
    Commented Jul 18, 2023 at 16:07
  • @JohnLawler David Adger has a reason/theory that he's published somewhere, I believe. Commented Jul 20, 2023 at 19:10
  • What, only one theory? Is this linguistics? Commented Jul 20, 2023 at 22:25
  • 1
    @JohnLawler English linguistics. Commented Jul 20, 2023 at 23:09
  • Questions about reason are a bit problematic although probably shouldn't be disallowed unless there's a clear attempt to provide a reason in one of the earlier questions. Questions about the history of the rules (either "Have the rules changed?" or even "Who first noticed the rules?") seem entirely proper, and separate questions. But closing may be justified as this is partly a problem of badly formulated questions: people asking "why?" in the manner of small children, without understanding the different types of explanations that are possible or considering what they actually want to know.
    – Stuart F
    Commented Jul 26, 2023 at 9:14


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