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I was recently editing an answer to the question Is secondhand smoke dangerous? to add some recent research results. My answer focussed on one of the more serious claims (that it causes lung cancer in non-smokers).

I noticed a more specific passive smoking question, Does second hand smoke cause cancer?, where the data I was summarising would be even more relevant.

It could be argued that the problem is the overlapping questions, but, I'm guessing, we allowed them because, though they do overlap, they are not exactly the same.

Given this the question arises: should I duplicate the answer in response to the other question?

Or do we need to find a new way to group related questions so a single answer can apply to both?

I feel slightly uneasy with duplication as that looks a little like getting two credits for one piece of work.

  • we could merge them... – Sklivvz Dec 20 '13 at 16:22
  • @Sklivvz Without reading them in detail, I don't think merge them now (so late in the game) because they are both/each well-established with their own distinct answers. – ChrisW Dec 20 '13 at 16:40
  • @ChrisW I agree. Merging now is not a good solution. But maybe we need a process for handling families of related questions so specific answers to specific questions are rolled up into a more general question on a related topic. – matt_black Dec 20 '13 at 16:46
  • And maybe a smooth way to move focussed answers to focussed questions with links back from answers to more general questions. Note: in this case there are at least two focussed questions (one on passive smoking and cancer, another on heart attacks) that could link back to the general questions (are there any harms?). Is there any way to reorganise answers when this situation arises? – matt_black Dec 21 '13 at 10:54
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I think you're right to avoid copy-and-paste duplication of an answer.

I have added a See also hyperlink as a comment to the first question: that will make each question appear in the list of "Linked" questions, which is in the right-hand margin/column of the other question.

Another option (in theory, not necessarily for this if there are only two such questions on this topic) would be to create a new tag.

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Post an answer to the second question that links to your answer on the first, summarizes it, and includes at least a short paragraph introducing that answer to the readers of the second question.

Example:

As I note in my answer to Is secondhand smoke dangerous? there are good quality studies that don't find a strong link:

A large prospective cohort study of more than 76,000 women confirmed a strong association between cigarette smoking and lung cancer but found no link between the disease and secondhand smoke.

Please refer to that answer for additional details.

  • My problem here is that the answer is currently in the wrong question. Ideally the focussed answer should be on the focussed question (smoke and cancer) when it is currently on the general question (all harms from smoke). Is there an easy way to move the answer and do the link from the other, more general, question? – matt_black Dec 21 '13 at 10:51
  • There's no easy way to do that, @matt. Cut-paste... Maybe a good opportunity to do some cleanup? – Shog9 Dec 21 '13 at 17:30

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