1

I'm referring to Why is the Intel 8086 CPU called a 16-bit CPU?, which is being on HNQ now, just one month since Why was the Sega Genesis marketed as a 16-bit console?, which I see as essentially the same question.

Yet the second question is not being closed but happily answered, including by people who answered the first one. Is there something I don't see which makes it worth discussing the bitness of each CPU separately? If the community considers such questions valuable (and considering the outcome of this discussion), it seems that I should go ahead and ask a few more such questions, but I figured I ask here first.

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We are not 'encouraging' such questions.

The first thing to say is that the mechanism whereby questions are selected for the HNQ list is out of our control. Although recently moderators have been given the ability to remove a question from HNQ. So, any question, duplicate or not, can get onto the HNQ list and thus receive a disproportionate number of views and votes.

The two questions that you reference are not exact duplicates and, even by the terms of the other discussion that you have linked, need not be marked as duplicate.

The problem, if indeed it is a problem, is that these two questions have received unwarranted attention. Such is the way of StackExchange sites.

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A few reasons:

  • Different processors
  • Different hardware
  • Different address size
  • Different details
  • … Different question

Just because the answers are roughly similar, doesn't mean the questions are duplicates. If we get a lot of questions along the same lines, then we could write a canonical dupe target, but it's probably not worth the effort right now. If such questions continue at a rate of one per month, we should consider this.

  • No, not really - at least not the first four points. And questions along the same lines should be joined. Not repeated. – Raffzahn Jul 19 at 13:54
  • @Raffzahn 8086 v.s. 68000. Sega Genesis v.s. CPU. 20-bit v.s. 32-bit. Focus on internal v.s. external (to the chip) buses. Classification v.s. marketing. – wizzwizz4 Jul 19 at 13:59
  • But, yes; if we get another one, then a canonical question is a good idea. – wizzwizz4 Jul 19 at 13:59
  • Erm, Wizzwizz4, that's not the point, looking close you may notice that I didn't argue to join these two. Gimem a second to write my answer to this. – Raffzahn Jul 19 at 14:05
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I'm referring to "Why is the Intel 8086 CPU called a 16-bit CPU?", which is being on HNQ now,

Well, a question being in HNQ or not is not really OT for us, as that mechanic is not controlled by any moderator (AFAIK).

just one month since "Why was the Sega Genesis marketed as a 16-bit console?",

This just means the question hit a nerv for users browsing for Information

which I see as essentially the same question.

At first it may look alike, as it goes around the same topic, but it takes a different angle. This is especially relevant, as the topic itself is nothing that can get a definitive answer.

The Sega question was about the general usage of 16 vs. 32 bit happening for one and the same CPU over time. In general introduced due the difference between ISA (32 bit) and implementation (16 bit), enhanced by marketing trying to position it in the best fiting market range (originally 16 bit, later on, when 32 bitness was a thing, as 32 bit) to generate sales.

In contrast, the 8086 question asks purely along implementation detail and here even more the otherwise not even mentioned relation of address bus size vs. bitness.

Yet the second question is not being closed but happily answered, including by people who answered the first one. Is there something I don't see which makes it worth discussing the bitness of each CPU separately?

To me it was the different focus set by the OP(s). And here especially I tried to go a step back and show up the various ways claimed bitness can originate. Eventually to help selecting the one to take, as well as to help to understand why other stances are taken or have been taken at various points in time.

If the community considers such questions valuable (and considering the outcome of this discussion), it seems that I should go ahead and ask a few more such questions, but I figured I ask here first.

Well, I do definitely encourage random questions with just different CPUs inserted but asking the same. But if you bring a different and genuine new angle to view this complex issue, then I'd love to think about.


Now, while Wizzwizz4's answer does have some valid points, the approach may be misleading. None of the listed points is a on it's own or in combination a reason for not closing the question - and have it point to one already tackling that topic. This includes the last (although true her) as it's redundant. Being a different question is always a reason for not being a dup.

But he's quite right in his remark that "Just because the answers are roughly similar, doesn't mean the questions are duplicates". Questions may circle around the same core topic and be well answered by (mostly) the same answers, but they need to ask may come from a quite different angle - like here, bases on address size instead of marketing claim.

This duplicity is, in my view, even an important feature here, as information is not just searched by the answers given, but also questions asked. (RC.)SE is not wikipedia where the goal is to write a single all answering entry for a keyword, but a network of n:m questions:answers, which takes much of it's power from not being normalized to a keyword, but context. Thus this additional question inherently adds to the site, even if the answers are (mostly) the same.

So bottom line: No, we do not want dupes just for the sake of it, but we do love to have as many valid views onto a topic as there are.

Now, in practical terms, it might be a good way to add a link to the other question(s) within the question text. If not done by the OP, then via a distinct edit (tried to do this already for the question in question :))

  • I'm not sure the linking edit is necessary, given the Linked and Related sidebar sections. A comment will suffice. – wizzwizz4 Jul 20 at 18:09
  • @wizzwizz4 Not really, a comment is something, someoen added, not really to be read when searching for information. Also, don't expect people to read and follow sidebar stuff. To be useful, it needs to be visible much like the duplicate message - after all, isn't that where this question starts about? Of course it would be best if there was a standard way to do it (like duplicate), but there isn't. So adding a good visible reminder is the next best to do. – Raffzahn Jul 20 at 20:56
  • At some point we all need to schedule a chat session and talk through, in great detail, how we use the site and how we expect others to use the site. I understand where you're coming from only by reverse-engineering what you're saying, and I have no way of predicting how you expect the site to be used, and I expect the feeling is mutual, and that's not a good thing. – wizzwizz4 Jul 20 at 21:41

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