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Is it acceptable/good practice to hijack questions instead of improving them?

For instance, consider this question: What are the minimum hardware specifications for Android?. Looks pretty innocent at first look. Note that it was asked Dec 7 '12 at 18:56. Lets look at the answer for this question, it refers to this question: minimal hardware requirements for Android. Which was asked Oct 17 '11 at 16:06. Closer examination shows that instead of improving the latter Matthew Read created another question, self-answering it, and marked the one which is older as a duplicate of his own question/answer.

Is this an acceptable practice for StackOverflow network?

migrated from meta.stackoverflow.com Apr 28 '16 at 18:42

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Since this is 3.5 years old I don't remember exactly what happened, but this was part of an effort to consolidate duplicates into a single canonical question. The older question you point out specifically limits itself to Gingerbread and Ice Cream Sandwich, and we wanted something more general.

You can see from the other duplicates listed that there were also questions specific to Eclair and Froyo, with the latter being even older. I suppose I could have expanded my existing answer on that one, but we try to avoid altering the intent of questions as per the editing guidance:

clarify meaning without changing it

We've done this kind of duplicate-redirection in a number of cases, notably with these questions:


Now, one thing I did more recently was to remove the Community Wiki status from the answer. I did that because I was the only one maintaining the answer, but that was a mistake — the intent is still for everyone to contribute if they can, whether or not they actually do. So I've re-added CW status there.

  • Initially older question didn't mention any specific version. android.stackexchange.com/posts/14662/revisions . Version edit was made possibly by comments demanding author to do so. – PF4Public Apr 28 '16 at 21:06
  • I wouldn't call it a "demand" -- the full text of the comment was What version of Android? (Also, stick to one question per post -- and your second question would actually be closed if asked). Regardless, that edit was made half an hour after posting and we consolidated everything more than a year later. – Matthew Read Apr 28 '16 at 21:10
  • OK, let's call it "You demanded author to specify exact version in order to intentionally de-generalize the question and later delete that very yours comment". Would it be more correct? – PF4Public Apr 28 '16 at 21:19
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    @PF4Public Yes, I made a 14-month plan to steal rep from a question with zero votes, and it all hinged on a simple comment. I'm a mastermind. – Matthew Read Apr 28 '16 at 21:42
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    Yet you deleted your comment exactly after this question appeared. Why bother? Besides, if you admit that comment was a mistake, then you could easily edit that particular question and your argument of "clarify meaning without changing it" is effectively not applicable here. – PF4Public Apr 29 '16 at 1:31
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    @PF4Public while in general it's never acceptable to hijack a question, I don't see this as such. In general, we try to make a question specific enough to be answered. Now that it has been answered specifically to that version, reversing the question to be more general was not encouraged since it'd invalidate the answer partially (reduce the completeness of the answer). And then, there's always policy change or quality improvement over time, that made the creation of the canonical post. Worst case, if this was really a hijack, I don't see any harm whatsoever (always assume good faith) – Andrew T. Apr 29 '16 at 2:04
  • While this discussion is diverging a bit, I'd like to make my points clear on this. 1. As I had noted in a comment to this question (which was deleted for some reason) these questions are taken by examples be it a good or bad example. 2. Older question could be edited into general question since it was asked that way at the first place. 3. Matthew did a great job in updating his own answer - no doubt. 4. This makes dangerous case: this may trigger massive questions duplications and hijacks intentional or not. 5. What are the bounds for generalization? – PF4Public Apr 29 '16 at 12:52
  • In addition to my 5th point. Imagine I'd ask "Ultimate Question" with "Ultimate Answer" to be 42 and try to make every question to be a duplicate of this one the-most-general-question-ever. Furthermore, it might be reasonable to ask everyone making generalized questions with their answers a wiki to discourage anyone seeing this as an example of acceptable practice of question hijacking. – PF4Public Apr 29 '16 at 12:58

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