Someone recently asked about the famous *Buffalo buffalo ... * sentence, asking for an explanation of how it worked, having read the Wikipedia page and apparently not having understood it.

Buffalo explanation

The question explicitly asks "Could anybody please explain in detail the sentence".

Yet the question was closed as a duplicate of this question:

What are some examples of awkward sounding but grammatically correct sentences?

But not only is this question much more general, the only answer that mentions the buffalo sentence simply gives the sentence and a link to the Wikipedia page, which the closed question had asserted wasn't enough explanation.

How does this count as a duplicate?

  • Better as a duplicate of this one english.stackexchange.com/questions/31163/… but that's also closed as a duplicate ... of the question that doesn't ask for, and doesn't receive, an explanation the phrase.
    – Frank
    Commented Jan 3, 2015 at 6:41
  • 3
    Seems to me it wasn't duplicate, but rather an octuplicate.
    – Hot Licks
    Commented Jan 7, 2015 at 21:08

2 Answers 2


The question has been re-opened by a moderator (who wasn't me, but I can explain what happened).

Four of the close votes were for the duplicate; one was requesting the research made and presumably what was unclear about the referenced Wikipedia page.

You are right that the linked question doesn't contain an answer to the question (or anything which might be used as a reference to find an answer), and it was not a good suggestion.

A better target would have been the question Frank linked to in a comment in this Meta post. Even then the answers may not be as good as the answers which the newer question has garnered. The new question and the Buffalo-specific question are candidates to be merged as they are so closely related as to be identical. Certainly, which is the duplicate of what could be adjusted. That needs to be calculated and co-ordinated in order that it can be achieved quickly, because it will bump the questions on the front page.

Occasionally, a duplicate is nominated which really is a duplicate but the answers are not quite as complete as they might be [and consequently the closed question is not quite answered by the linked target, or it's not easy to extrapolate the solution from the answers given]. If that is so, then the answers on the open question should be enhanced to cover all applicable cases. But a duplicate does not mean that the question is exactly the same, merely that the answers are applicable.

That's not the case here, and the question has been re-opened. However as I indicate above, there may be further linking to do.

  • 8
    Sometimes I think people working on the close queue get buffaloed by the earlier close votes.
    – user63230
    Commented Jan 3, 2015 at 9:22
  • Thanks. It seems to me that the best solution would be to merge the two buffalo questions that ask for an explicit explanation (the new one and the one Frank links to, which is almost identical) since then there will be four slightly different explanations of the same sentence, which can only be helpful to others, IMO. And reference to the more general question as a duplicate should be removed for sure.
    – Alan Munn
    Commented Jan 3, 2015 at 17:52
  • @andy256 or perhaps a lot of people who have enough reputation to review queues are buffaloes. :P
    – Masked Man
    Commented Jan 12, 2015 at 6:24
  • @Happy Possibly. But since I also work on the close queues I don't think I can subscribe to that theory :-)
    – user63230
    Commented Jan 12, 2015 at 7:45
  • @andy256 I did say "a lot of people", not "all people" though. I have myself seen a few people here behave like buffaloes, and their actions are not restricted to review queues. ;-)
    – Masked Man
    Commented Jan 12, 2015 at 7:52

Buffalo explanation has now been closed as a duplicate of and been merged with Buffalo Buffalo Buffalo Buffalo Buffalo Buffalo, as I felt the latter had the better written question.

  • 1
    I will note that the sentence given in that question is ill-formed since it uses a capital B for every instance. I'd like to edit it to match the now-closed question. Thoughts?
    – Jim
    Commented Jan 5, 2015 at 2:24
  • 1
    @Jim Yeah, go for it. (The title could probably be improved as well, though I'm not sure I have a good suggestion.)
    – waiwai933
    Commented Jan 5, 2015 at 2:35

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