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The question What were some of the first two stage rockets flown? has just been put on hold as duplicate to When did the concept of “stages” enter rocketry?.

I feel this was a bit of reckless voting, and needless holding.

The first clue might be that the held question asks for some specific rockets, the "dupe" asks for a historical date.

Viewing the proposed "duplicate" we see there are four answers.

and finally an answer by @Uwe, who is also the OP of the held question in question:

However, the rockets briefly mentioned here are already cited in @Uwe's question, and so are clearly not also the answer to it!

A careful reading of the question might indicate that the title doesn't match the body of the question well, and so a helpful comment asking for some alignment or clarification would be warranted.

But is closing as duplicate really warranted in this case since the question cites as examples the only rockets (other than Chinese fireworks) that happen to be mentioned (also by the OP) in one of the answers of the proposed duplicate?

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    $\begingroup$ I agree, not a duplicate of that question at least--haven't checked for others. $\endgroup$ – called2voyage May 30 at 0:48
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Please note that the question has been substantially altered since voting it as a duplicate.Take a look at the edit history.

At the time of voting it as duplicate, the titular question was "What were some of the first two stage rockets flown?". The literal answer to that is that according to accepted scientific knowledge, this was an ancient chinese ballistic cruise missile from the 14th century CE. Calling these accounts fictional as happened in a comment is unwarranted.

The body of the question doesn't change this much. Its not unusual for people to underestimate rocketry by a few centuries, so that research into the titular question only concerned work from the 20th century did not seem to be of much relevance to me. When researching two-stage rockets, I was like "Wait, I have already read and answered this question, and the research in the OP is off by a few centuries" and came back to my older answer, which at the time fit perfectly also for that question. Hence I voted them as a duplicate.

A comment to the age of the questions:

My question is different to " When did the concept of “stages” enter rocketry?" and was asked earlier, Nov 30 2017

It is not unusual to close older questions as duplicates of newer ones if the newer question has better answers.

Enough people thought the question as asked was similar enough to the duplicate to close it, so clearly I wasn't the only one who thought so.

The question "What were some of the first two stage rockets flown?" is fundamentally different then the question "Was the R-7 the first two stage rocket of the Soviet Union?". It is not surprising that such a substantial edit makes the question no longer appear a duplicate.

So yes, after those edits, I do not longer believe them to be a duplicate.

But I still believe there is a problem with goalpost moving. Edits should not fundamentally change questions. Because then we end up in exactly this situation - answers get invalidated, as do duplicates. This is not the first question that has had such extensive changes to it. So I would like to utter a word of caution that edits that change the intent of questions are somewhat discouraged because they exhibit the exact problems we see here.

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  • $\begingroup$ As long as there are no answers, OP is welcome to make substantial changes. When Q is on hold for duplicate, OP is instructed to make substantial changes by SE. This reads as a complaint that the editing is unfairly interfering with the question-closing. Modifying a question based on close votes or even comments is exactly how SE is supposed to work. $\endgroup$ – uhoh May 30 at 11:28
  • $\begingroup$ Since the OP of the question is an active user, why not simply leave a helpful comment first, point out your concern, then give them a few days to sort out what they'd like to do? I think that is a better way to proceed, and makes a lot less work for roughly a dozen people. $\endgroup$ – uhoh May 30 at 11:32
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    $\begingroup$ I absolutely disagree with your assessment here. The context in the body of the original post made it clear this was not a duplicate. This was careless review. $\endgroup$ – called2voyage May 30 at 12:43
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A helpful comment to an active OP is all that's necessary here. Voting to close is not warranted. It makes a lot of work for other users.

In this case as soon as it was called to @Uwe's attention the already-well-received question was edited and things have proceeded nicely.

Every tool in SE has it's own benefits and drawbacks, helpful comments have the best benefit to side-effect ratio, so we should try to start there first whenever possible.

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    $\begingroup$ For the record, I wouldn't have opposed closing quickly as unclear until the issue was resolved, but I think closing as a duplicate was a mistake. $\endgroup$ – called2voyage Jun 4 at 13:38
  • $\begingroup$ @called2voyage from what I remember I also thought it wasn't clear, but it had about +9 up votes already, so I figured there was something of value there. Since the OP is an active user the action I would take is the same; leave a comment and mention my concern. $\endgroup$ – uhoh Jun 4 at 14:07
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    $\begingroup$ Yeah, I personally didn't think it needed closing, but I also wanted to voice that I don't think there would have been anything wrong with closing for those who found it unclear--that's how the system's supposed to work. It can always be reopened. I just think closing as a duplicate too hastily causes confusion. $\endgroup$ – called2voyage Jun 4 at 14:17

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