Here, I proposed a general canonical question, because we were getting a large number of more specific variants of it. Comments and answers were all-round positive - "yeh, we should have that for this case".

Here I went ahead and asked the general question I have previously proposed and discussed on meta, as mentioned above. Immediately it got smacked down as a duplicate of one of its particular instances.

I would have been fine with that if we ever treated any of the particular instances of the question as "canonical", and closed other similar questions as duplicates of it. But we don't. If we close them, it's for "off topic - what to write" or "off-topic - opinion-based".

Now, of course a canonical question is a duplicate of all its particular instances. That's the whole point. But if we don't want the canonical question,

  1. What was the point of supporting the idea when I proposed it?

  2. How do we solve the problem the canonical question was supposed to solve, without having a canonical question?

Some logical consensus, please?

2 Answers 2


My guess would be that the people who voted to close weren't aware of the meta discussion. I haven't reviewed the new question yet, but I suggest adding a (temporary) note that this is intended to be a canonical question, reopening, reviewing and improving it as needed, and then marking the others as dupes. For that last part, we need a list, at least as a starting point.

  • 1
    I've added a note that this is intended to be a canonical question right from the start, then extended it when I saw the close votes, to the point that it is now longer than the question itself. No use. Nominated for reopening, don't know if it will take. I've no objection to reviewing and improving, and I'll make a list of other dupes straight away. And thanks! Commented Jul 31, 2018 at 16:01

"Canonical questions" feels like the type of thing you put into a book and five years later maybe the answer has shifted. As a Q&A site, our objective should be to provide answers, not to preempt the questions (for the most part). So, it's entirely appropriate to close a question as a duplicate, routing to another question that answers the question because that in itself is an answer to the question. If only we called this "answered over here" instead of "you're being duplicitive" the whole thing might have a better connotation.

The moderators on this site might (stressed) want to gather a list of the common questions in the faq, or it might be a good chance for a community wiki. But, if it feels like we're typing the same things over and over again there probably is a chance for some standardization. It's just that maybe asking a "canonical question" is a bit like this:

Standards - XKCD 927

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