Answers to my recent question How hard does atmospheric drag push on the ISS? Is it more than one pound? and the 2015 question What is the ISS drag? both provide numbers for the drag force that the ISS experiences.

The answer on the new question is more thorough and has unique value as it shows the orbital mechanics and mathematics necessary to obtain the answer and a clear and readable way.

The answer on the old question has unique value as it shows the rate of descent 10x faster, during late 2014, a particularly high period of solar activity.

Close voting on the new question as duplicate of the old started after the excellent answer to it was posted. This is the common and reflexive but not at all required direction for close voting.

There's no requirement that new be closed as duplicate of old. We are not required to always point backwards. We should instead point to the best answers for the benefit of future readers.

However I feel that we will do better by future readers by guiding them to the newer answer which shows better how the answer is obtained.

But there is a third option, to merge these two nearly identical questions so that readers can have the best of both worlds; both the equations behind the calculation and the opportunity to see the dramatic change in altitude loss rate of the ISS between a quiet and active Sun.

I may be biased, but I feel my question is the better of the two, but that's of secondary consideration.

Can we give future readers the best benefit by merging these two questions?

Text from my flag on the newer question:

I think this and the proposed duplicate are nearly the same and ripe for merging. This answer has unique value because of the careful explanation of the mathematics, and the other answer has unique value because it highlights a far higher rate of altitude loss during the last solar maximum. It would be a disservice to steer readers away from either answer.

  • $\begingroup$ I've added the moderator tag since ultimately the moderators have to make a judgement call here and interpret the community's disparate views, both expressed and implied; there's no mechanism for community voting for question merging. $\endgroup$ – uhoh Apr 11 at 0:01

It seems to me that the consensus is that the older one is better, but we'll see how this answer gets voted.

I think your question should be closed as a duplicate of the older one and no merge should occur. This will leave the Q&A at both places intact, and it will guide anyone who finds your question first to the other question for additional answers. The old question already has a link to yours to guide people to the additional answer on the newer one.

  • $\begingroup$ I guess my "consensus antenna" is on the blink, where is that signal coming from exactly? The consensus being that the older answer is better than the newer one? Is the comparison 20 votes accumulated over five years vs 10 votes over 29 hours? $\endgroup$ – uhoh Mar 15 at 14:46
  • $\begingroup$ @uhoh It's just my impression based on votes, comments, and close votes. It could be wrong, and that's what this meta answer is for--to give people a chance to show their opinion. $\endgroup$ – called2voyage Mod Mar 15 at 15:03
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    $\begingroup$ I have always believed that the actual effect of closing as duplicate is to steer traffic towards the open answer and away from the closed answer. It doesn't matter if that's what it's supposed to do or not, I have a strong suspicion that that is what actually happens. I suppose that some clever SEDE work might be able to address that somehow, but there's probably not much interest in finding out. About votes, 5 years vs 24 hours is not a fair comparison, and quick-closing the question will render a fair comparison impossible. I think it's just inertia; people think duping must point backwards $\endgroup$ – uhoh Mar 15 at 15:16
  • $\begingroup$ @uhoh Maybe so, but since there is a comment on one of the posts stating a preference for the older Q&A, I think we need to give people a chance to vote here first. $\endgroup$ – called2voyage Mod Mar 15 at 15:17
  • $\begingroup$ revisiting this now, as far as I can tell my primary concern is that duping newer to older would steer traffic away from newer's great answer. I'd like to see all answers in one basked as they sample the ISS's altitude loss at different levels of solar activity. I understand that merging is more of a hammer than a "light touch" action but it is a tool that's provided to moderators for just such situations, isn't it? I'll be sad if my cleverly written "Is it more than one pound?" question isn't selected as final resting spot, but that's secondary $\endgroup$ – uhoh Apr 10 at 23:59
  • $\begingroup$ I've given the question a bump, let's see if there is any more feedback. $\endgroup$ – uhoh Apr 11 at 0:01

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