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I just voted to close the question I found a plant in my garden that I am unable to Identify as a duplicate of What is this plant with long sharp leaves? Is it a weed?, but it got me to thinking if this is the right thing for this site. Most of these questions use photos in place of a detailed description, and plants can change appearance radically during their life cycles. Even where there is a text description, different people may use different terms (e.g. "long sharp" and "long thin" for the leaves in the posts I linked to).

What is the best thing to do in these situations? Vote to close -- as I did here -- or something else?

  • (I'd also feel bad posting yet another answer about Euphorbia lathyrus since it already accounts for a big percentage of my rep on the site.) – Niall C. Sep 23 '12 at 21:16
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I would recommend continuing to close as duplicate as you did here. The spirit behind the exact duplicate close reason is to have a single authoritative reference so that people don't have to read all the dupes for the answer. So if the newer dupe has a useful picture (e.g., of a flower, when the original only had the leaves) or an additional symptom (in the case of questions), then incorporate them neatly into the original.

We never delete dupes (unless if it is extremely low quality and downright terrible). Google still indexes the duplicates, so all the alternate terms will be indexed and associated correctly. Any anonymous (or low rep) user that stumbles upon a closed duplicate will be automatically redirected to the original (you can check this using incognito mode). This happens only if there are no answers on the dupes, so it is all the more important to not replicate an answer.

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