This question came up today:

Should I preserve spelling when quoting American English in a British English text, or vice versa?

And, the author states that it is an attempt to create Google visibility for the original question by adding in keywords. In other words search engine optimization (SEO).

Would it be more appropriate for him to:

A) suggest an edit to the original in a reasonable manner that introduced those keywords?

B) Let the issue stand because we don't care about google visibility.

C) Raise a referring question that will likely get closed on the basis of being a duplicate.

D) Write a duplicate question that contains the important keywords expressed per his particular need.

  • 2
    Just so it's very clear to everyone: the closing as a duplicate was the intended outcome.
    – Pekka
    Commented Mar 19, 2014 at 13:59
  • @Pekka웃 I've made a slight change based upon my review of your material.
    – David M
    Commented Mar 19, 2014 at 14:07
  • 1
    @Pekka: I'd be slightly "irritated/exasperated" if someone actually answered your question, but I did upvote the question itself while closevoting as a duplicate (and I've upvoted your answer here, obviously! :) Commented Mar 19, 2014 at 14:33
  • Questions can also be deleted by the community. Moderators can delete any question, and users with sufficient reputation can cast delete votes on closed questions. It takes 3 votes, minimum, to delete a closed question. However, the number of delete votes required scales to the number of votes on the question and all its answers. Questions that have been closed within the past 48 hours cannot be deleted, so as to allow for editing and possible reopening.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Mar 19, 2014 at 15:19
  • 1
    See SE link for further info... It's risky terrain you're treading on, there's no guarantee that the dupe question will survive and be useful for SEO purposes.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Mar 19, 2014 at 15:22

3 Answers 3


There's no guarantee that a dupe question will remain online and be useful for SEO purposes.

How are questions deleted by the system

The system will automatically delete any post flagged six times as offensive or spam.

The system will automatically delete closed (not as a duplicate), unlocked questions with zero or negative score having no upvoted or accepted answers or pending reopen votes, that were closed 9 or more days ago and haven't been edited in the past 9 days.

The system will automatically delete unlocked, unanswered questions that have negative score after 30 days.

The system will automatically delete unlocked, unanswered questions with score of zero (or one if the owner is deleted), fewer than 1.5 views per day on average, and fewer than two comments after 365 days.

The system will automatically delete any question (and its answers) or answer with a score less than 0 when its owner's account is deleted.

Note that deleted questions "do not appear in search results, so if you wish to later undelete a question that you've deleted you must have saved the URL somewhere."

  • Thanks. This is definitely some very useful information!
    – David M
    Commented Mar 19, 2014 at 15:32

As the author of this intentional duplicate, I would argue that this is okay practice as long as it is done in moderation.*

I was asked about the topic of the question (quoting BE text in an AE paper, or vice versa) today by a fellow student. I tried to search for an answer (and I like to think I'm a decent Googler), but didn't find the English.SE post - even though it provides the best quality discussion on the matter that I could find.

The absence of the English.SE post from my search results was because I searched with a set of keywords that was wildly different from that post's title (my key words were something along the lines of, American English text quote British English preserve spelling).

There was no organic way to integrate the Google keywords I initially searched for without significantly altering the original question. To me, tampering with the original in that way would have been the worse choice, ugly SEO possibly diluting the post's quality and making it less succinct.

In my opinion, in such a case, it is legitimate to create a "fake" question with the right keywords, with the sole intention of having it closed as a duplicate.

Also, Stack Exchange's official reason for keeping closed duplicates around is SEO - had I simply posted the question without the information that I did it intentionally, it would have simply been closed as a duplicate.

* I would oppose, for example, someone going around and creating dozens of "SEO targets" willy nilly.

  • 1
    I don't necessarily disagree. That's why I wanted to post it on Meta.
    – David M
    Commented Mar 19, 2014 at 13:56
  • 3
    Isn't it bad form to lead searchers to a site that says "We make fake questions to get more hits"? If I wasn't familiar with SE, I wouldn't click on the duplicate's link because I'd expect to see more marketing/SEO experimentation. I'm not against posting duplicates for this purpose if that's what people want to do, but I would hope that the disclaimer won't remain.
    – nxx
    Commented Mar 20, 2014 at 20:52

From the Stackoverflow Blog:

Here are my official guidelines on question duplication:

Having one “perfect” form of a question that contains every possible answer to every slight variation of that question is a myth at best and actively harmful at worst.

Having dozens and dozens of variations of the same question is clearly bad.

What we want is on the order of 4 or 5 similar-but-not-quite-the-same duplicates to cover all possible search terms and common permutations of the question. It is also OK for these duplicates to have their own answers so people who find them don’t have to click yet again to get to a good answer.

I'm just not sure if the form of a referring question fits the third definition on the list exactly. I'd personally rather see a fleshed out question which is more likely to carry the keywords in an organic manner. That is, containing an example of usage, etc.

I have definitely been swayed that it is incorrect to merely edit the original post to include the keywords.

  • 1
    I'd personally rather see a fleshed out question which is more likely to carry the keywords in an organic manner. that's a good point and if the community decides creating these kinds of questions may be okay under some circumstances, that would absolutely have to be a requirement.
    – Pekka
    Commented Mar 19, 2014 at 14:08
  • 2
    Wouldn't tags such as "British English" "American English" and "orthography" be searchable via Google? I'm asking because I haven't the faintest idea, and the thought just popped into my head.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Mar 20, 2014 at 22:06
  • @Mari-LouA They definitely should be.
    – David M
    Commented Mar 20, 2014 at 22:06

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