Here are two questions:

Q1: I need one word with two etymologies [duplicate]
Q2: Are there any words that are spelled the same but have separate etymologies? [closed]

Q1 was marked as a duplicate and merged with Q2. Q2 has since been deleted, leaving Q1 dangling - it is accessible, but cannot be answered. This kind of dead-end question (no answer, not allowed to answer, no referral) doesn't really have a place on Q&A sites such as ELU.

Now, since Q2 was deleted, presumably it was a low-quality question or unsuitable for ELU for some other reason (I have no information on that). The fact that Q1 was merged into Q2 suggests that Q1 was of lower quality than Q2 or otherwise even more unsuitable than Q2 for ELU. As such, when questions like Q2 are deleted, should questions such as Q1 that have been merged into them also automatically be deleted? Alternatively, should merged questions like Q1 be individually reviewed when questions like Q2 are deleted?

Are there any mechanisms for easily finding merged-in questions when deleting a question? That is, when deleting questions like Q2, does a list pop up to show dependent questions like Q1? If not, consider this a feature-request for such a mechanism.

  • For information, the first question was asked and closed on 4 January 2013; the deleted question was asked and closed as off-topic on 26 May 2012 and deleted automatically by Community on 3 January 2015. The question of finding words is off-topic. Whether a merge target should be automatically deleted is something which should be considered though. There are a couple of algorithms in play which may conflict.
    – Andrew Leach Mod
    Commented Jan 14, 2016 at 10:34
  • This might be a question for MSE, as the "dangling" link is definitely bad UX, and these situations probably aren't limited to EL&U. It seems SE should apply its deprecation of link-only answers to itself.
    – choster
    Commented Jan 14, 2016 at 17:35
  • @AndrewLeach Thanks for the background. This was just a quirk that I stumbled upon. I'm curious about the algorithms you mentioned - why not just delete all questions which have been 'merged' into the one slated for deletion?
    – Lawrence
    Commented Jan 14, 2016 at 22:38
  • @choster Feel free to migrate this question to Meta Stack Exchange if appropriate.
    – Lawrence
    Commented Jan 14, 2016 at 22:40

1 Answer 1


This is actually fairly frequent. It is my opinion, expressed before, that deletion should not be possible if it will leave dangling pointers. If you want to delete such a post, you should first be required to tidy up any questions closed as a duplicate thereof, either by deleting them too, or by reopening them, as appropriate.

However, until such a policy is put in place and enforced by Stack Exchange, the only thing to do when you come across such dangling pointers is to flag them for moderator attention. To make their life easier, you might also choose to recommend a course of action (i.e., deletion, reopening, closing as a dupe of something else) as appropriate.

  • 1
    This solves one of automated recursive deletion's major problems: how to salvage gems from otherwise unwanted posts (+1). The other method would be to try to salvage the gems before closing and redirecting the unwanted post.
    – Lawrence
    Commented Jan 20, 2016 at 13:39

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