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This question (linking to the revision history because… well, that'll be obvious in a sec) was asked with an implied question in the title and an different explicit question in the body. After some comments it became clear there were two questions and I advised the asker to split them. There were already answers to the explicit question.

The asker split the question, but asked the original explicit question in a new question (again a link to the revision history) and changed the old question to be about the unwritten, implicit question of the title, making the answers and comments invalid and incoherent. Worse, the new question had already gotten upvotes (being much better written) and an answer with one upvote.

I didn't want to leave it to become more of a mess, but my only recourse (as a non-admin, and apart from just leaving the mess to be a mess) seemed to be its own kind of messy: I swapped the titles, bodies, and tags of the questions to re-establish the connection between the original explicit question and the answers already given, making the new question be about the original implied question. I also asked the owner of the single answer on the new question to move it to the other by copying and deleting.

So admins and others with interest: Is this how such messes should be handled? Is there a better way, or better tools? Should this be left to admins?

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I think above all, an important thing here is that you were in discourse with the author at the time, and he acknowledged and agreed with what your solution was. That was good.

We've always had a bit of a solid rule that we like to encourage, which is that one should always avoid question edits which invalidate existing answers. This is especially the case for what was a valid question in the first place, just simply not exactly what the author may have initially intended.

The correct resolution in this scenario is what you had intended - that the alternate question, that which hadn't yet been answered, be asked as a separate question. I think your measures in fixing this when the reverse was done, they were good - you have the reputation to perform edits, and this worked pretty well for what chaos it may have imparted at first.

Regarding the lone answer. The only way to transfer answers is by merging, which is decidedly undesirable for this scenario. Asking the answerer to move their answer was a functional alternative.

All in all, I think it was a job well done for cleanup.

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    \$\begingroup\$ +1 for discourse wit the author and invalidating answers. \$\endgroup\$ – Sardathrion Sep 2 '11 at 15:58
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    \$\begingroup\$ Thanks, that sets my mind at ease. It also suggests to me how to better handle it next time: explicitly suggest which question should be split off into a new question, instead of assuming it's obvious. :) \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Sep 2 '11 at 19:25

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