There are some topics on which we get frequent questions with the following properties:
- they are sufficiently different not to be duplicates – an answer to one of them does not answer the others;
- one can conceive a canonical question and answer that would answer all of those questions. If the asker’s question is not addressed by the canonical answer, they can still edit their question to specify their problem and have it reopened or not closed in the first place (mostly thanks to the new duplicate interface). Here the canonical answer may provide them with the terminology and background for their question.
In these cases, we can decide to create a canonical question and answer or find an existing question that can be turned into such. We can then close all further questions with the above properties as duplicates of this canonical answer. This has the following advantages:
- We do not have to write down similar answers again and again and get fed up with this.
- In most cases, the asker receives better help as the canonical answer focusses our efforts and thus becomes better than most individual answers.
This question got motivated by the issue of recurring questions on the weak and strong inflection of adjectives, such as this one. Most of these questions ask to understand the inflection in a particular example and often the answers explain only this example or just name the keyword (weak and strong inflection) which allows the asker to find further information.
As grammatical phenomena are not that easy to search for¹, these are rarely regarded to fall under the general-reference close reason. Closing as duplicate would also not help most users as the answers to other questions are tailored to a specific example.
While this is okay, if we regard each question separately, it becomes tiring after a while. Creating a canonical question-and-answer pair would allow us to direct all users with such questions at a place that thoroughly explains the issue to them. As a bonus this answer is not relying on an external source such as grammar sites and thus raises our site’s attractivity.
Note that while I gave this example in the question, discussion as to whether this actually is a good example, i.e., whether we want a canonical answer for this, should happen in the corresponding answer below.
Please suggest topics that would benefit from a canonical answer below and what this answer should roughly contain. Search for existing answers that may be suitable as canonical answer or can be turned into such. If a topic is agreed upon by votes, proceed by asking the question for the canonical answer (and remark its purpose) or perform the changes as suggested.
Use one answer per topic. Answers also serve as a repository for community moderation. If needed, there will be an overview answer.
- This is not about questions that often serve as duplicates for other questions. This is for topics where we get many, closely related questions that are not closed as duplicates. If you think that all such questions could be closed as a duplicate of a certain question but they aren’t, however, this is the right place.
- Remember that this is mostly about beginner topics and thus the canonical answers should be understandable by them.
¹ which is one of the reasons that this site exists