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Today I asked:

File `perpage.sty' not found. \MakePerPage

and with the help of a commenter, answered it.

A while later, the question was marked as a dupe of

How do I install an individual package on a Linux system?

despite the fact that:

  • The question did not regard a Linux system
  • The question clarified that there was no need to explain how to install individual packages
  • The answer to my question involves an implicit dependency between two packages within TeXLive - a matter not addressed by answers to the supposed-dupe.

I explained some of this on the bug page, and yet - the question was marked as a dupe.

So, first, I ask for your help reopening it; but second, I am puzzled by this situation. When I was more active here on TeX.SX I did not experience this kind of over-aggressive closures.

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  • I didn't vote to close here, but I wonder if it's because a lot of the advice in the linked question/answer is not actually Linux-specific?
    – Joseph Wright Mod
    Feb 6 at 19:06
  • 1
    Does it really matter if you use linux or not? tex.stackexchange.com/a/73017/36296 shows as first and preferred method how to install a package with tlmgr and that's exactly what you had to do to solve the problem. The questions don't need to be identical, the solutions just need to solve your problem. And I still don't think that this is in any way a bug. Dependencies in texlive packages are far from complete and and shouldn't include soft dependencies. Calling this a bug in your answer sounds very unfair to texlive. Feb 6 at 19:55
  • We have tons of other duplicates of how to install a package, but I think tex.stackexchange.com/q/73016/5640 is one of the more general ones (despite having linux in its name) Feb 6 at 20:07
  • @samcarter_is_at_topanswers.xyz: And none of those questions is a duplicate of mine.
    – einpoklum
    Feb 6 at 20:14
  • 1
    Are they not? They boil down to the same problem "File ....sty' not found." -> solution: install package Feb 6 at 20:25
  • 1
    @JosephWright: It doesn't matter - advice on how to install a single package is not what I needed and could not have helped me.
    – einpoklum
    Feb 6 at 20:25
  • @samcarter_is_at_topanswers.xyz: 1. No, they do not. 2. Even if they did - that still does not make them a duplicate of the "how do I install a package" question, where the answer is not "install package". If you marked such questions as duplicates of the question of "how do I install a package" - then maybe you have incorrectly marked many duplicates.
    – einpoklum
    Feb 6 at 20:27
  • 1
    ... but the answer is "install a package". Just because you claim that it is a bug does not make it a bug. Feb 6 at 20:31
  • @samcarter_is_at_topanswers.xyz: The answer to "How do to install a package?" is not "install a package". As for whether the lack of dependency is a bug, that's a different question.
    – einpoklum
    Feb 6 at 20:33
  • I'm not involved in texlive, just a concerned user who finds it unfair that you immediately call this a bug. I think this is not completely up-to-date, but gives an idea about the dependency handling in texlive tug.org/texlive/pkgcontrib.html#deps Feb 6 at 20:39
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    @einpoklum But you acknowledge that the correct action is "just [install it][https://tex.stackexchange.com/questions/73016/how-do-i-install-an-individual-package-on-a-linux-system?noredirect=1&lq=1]", linking to the same page as the duplicate. So your real question is not "what can I do about this error", but actually "why wasn't this package originally installed?", which you also acknowledge is a different question. (My guess: in addition to what samcarter said, the usual recommendation is to download all of texlive, so that you don't have to worry about this situation.)
    – Teepeemm
    Feb 6 at 22:11
  • @Teepeemm: No. My question was "What can I do about this error". Also, note that the "package" (= sty file) that I needed is not the package (= TeXLive package) I needed to have installed.
    – einpoklum
    Feb 6 at 22:58
  • @samcarter_is_at_topanswers.xyz: TeXLive maintainer Karl Berry fixed this as soon as he got the bug report, and thanked me for pointing this out. So, yeah.
    – einpoklum
    Feb 7 at 0:07

2 Answers 2

3

There's a balance.

1. Indirection level

The fundamental goal of closing duplicate questions is to help people find the right answer by getting all of those answers in one place.

so, if a new question Q2 has an immediately-serviceable answer as an answer to an existing question Q1 (and assuming the two question are at least somewhat related etc.) - Q2 can, and perhaps should, be marked a dupe of Q1. However, if the answer to Q2 is "Take action A", and Q1 is "How do I perform action A?", then Q2 should not be marked a dupe of Q1.

In theory, it makes sense. In practice, chances are the following will happen:

  • the answer to Q1 lists 5 different cases to follow.
  • someone independently rewrites that for Q2, but because the new answer is less well-tested, misses some edge cases.

2. Solving the problem isn't all there is to an answer

Even though "how to install package" and "how to find the correct package name to install" together solves the problem, the information given in the new answer is still useful --- that the user is informed that the package is "supposed" to be available by default.

Summary

I think in this case, there is already a top answer that does not (incompletely) duplicate the target question, and provides useful additional information that would otherwise not be there, it should be kept.

Remember that un-logged-in users will be automatically redirected to the argument question when they click on the link e.g. from search engine result.

General clean-up

It is indeed a problem that the target question states it's Linux, which makes users (like the OP here) unhappy with the duplicate closure. Looking at the questions and the answers, I think there's no harm to edit the title of the question to say "TeX Live" instead of "Linux".

Recommendation for the OP

Instead of saying

Note: I know how to install TeXLive and individual TeXLive packages, please stop marking this as a duplicate of a question about doing that.

maybe it would be better to demonstrate it by rephrasing the question to:

I have already fixed the issue by installing tlmgr install ⟨somepackage⟩. However, I would like to know why in my default installation ⟨explain what is your default installation⟩ does the error occur, because [I assume that if footmisc needs perpage.sty - it should have installed it.].

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  • Reading the comments again, I'm slightly confused why is your question "what can I do about this error" since you already solved it.
    – user202729
    Feb 14 at 13:30
  • 1. "someone independently rewrites that for Q2" - not possible, because answers for Q1 don't answer Q2. 2. When I asked the question, I had not yet resolved the issue.
    – einpoklum
    Feb 14 at 15:24
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    @einpoklum I think it would have greatly helped matters if instead of saying "please stop marking this as a duplicate of [how to install a package]", you had said "I tried tlmgr install perpage, and that did not solve my problem" (even if you didn't know why at the time). Someone saying "this is not a duplicate" always requires someone to show why it's not a duplicate. Instead, nine hours passed from you saying "this is not a duplicate" until you said "There is no perpage package one can install."
    – Teepeemm
    Feb 14 at 19:36
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    @einpoklum also: 1. please have some understanding, the question looks like a duplicate if the answer isn't there 2. yes, but you can always edit it into the question later after someone complains it might be a duplicate. 3. the problem is... it happens more than what I'd like here that answer just get OP's specific situation to work without explain what the answer does and/or how to generalize it/use it in other cases, sometimes leaving the reader in confusion.
    – user202729
    Feb 14 at 19:56
  • @Teepeemm: Ah. I see what you mean now. I should have mentioned it eariler. That's a fair point.
    – einpoklum
    Feb 14 at 20:18
0

What to do about OP's question?

Well, it's not a dupe of How do I install an individual package on a Linux system? - but there is a different existing question, which generalizes OP's predicament:

Find the right package for missing files in TeXlive

and its answer solves OP's problem. It would be fair to mark OP's question as a dupe of this one. But it was not until after the discussion here on meta that @UlrikeFischer pointed me there (thank you Ulrike :-) ).

Dupe-marking admonishment

Some users appear to have forgotten when questions should be marked as dupes of other questions. Quoting our help center page on the matter:

The fundamental goal of closing duplicate questions is to help people find the right answer by getting all of those answers in one place.

so, if a new question Q2 has an immediately-serviceable answer as an answer to an existing question Q1 (and assuming the two question are at least somewhat related etc.) - Q2 can, and perhaps should, be marked a dupe of Q1. However, if the answer to Q2 is "Take action A", and Q1 is "How do I perform action A?", then Q2 should not be marked a dupe of Q1.

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