The question "Is a comma splice always a mistake?" on the main site was merged (on July 3, 2023) with the question "Why is the comma splice an error?" also on the main site, as duplicate questions.

This merger had two practical effects. First, my answer to the earlier question (from 2017) now appears under the former question (which was posted on June 3, 2020, and closed a day later as a duplicate), although my answer doesn't actually address the question of whether "a comma splice is always a mistake." Second, the earlier question has been closed (as merged) and yet the later question has not been reopened, despite the fact that the question that it supposedly duplicated has been merged with it and no longer exists as an open question.

My question here on Meta isn't about why the 2020 question was chosen as the postmerger collection point for answers to the two questions, despite its being three years younger than the question that I originally answered. I assume that the answer to that question is either (1) the 2020 question attracted two answers while the 2017 question attracted only one answer or (2) the moderator who handled the merger considered the 2020 question likely to be more interesting to future readers than the 2017 question.

Rather, my question is a simple and practical one:

Why are both questions closed as "duplicate," rather than just the one whose answer was moved to the chronologically later question page on the site?

If the point of merging answers to closely related or arguably duplicate questions is to consolidate the answers in a single place on the site, it seems odd and indeed counterproductive to block further answers to the question at the consolidated location on grounds that the question there is a duplicate. I find it especially puzzling in the case of a question that had been open for six years and (as far as I can tell) never viewed as close-worthy. Was the double closure simply an oversight by the mod?

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    As far as I can see, there's no point; it's just policy, or perhaps it was perceived as policy at the time. That's a good answer (though it doesn't address spoken English, only printing conventions) and deserves to be more widely available. But that's the fate of all here. Oct 28, 2023 at 16:20
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    Normally, I would think, after a question has been closed as a duplicate of an earlier question, the earlier question is the logical place to preserve the merged answers in a case where a moderator decides to merge the two questions. But either way I don't understand the thinking behind closing the previously open question as, in effect, a duplicate of itself. Could an informed moderator please reconcile merging the two questions into the closed (duplicate) question and yet not reopening the closed question once the rationale for having closed it in the first place no longer makes sense?
    – Sven Yargs
    Oct 31, 2023 at 18:31

1 Answer 1


There's no way to un-merge a question so there's little point in discussing that. However, it makes no sense to have an ouroboros of question closures like that (something which the system should have prevented from happening when the merge was being attempted), so I've reopened the destination question.

  • Thank you, Laurel—much appreciated!
    – Sven Yargs
    Oct 31, 2023 at 20:03

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