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The new switch has two terminals on each side, a screw for the ground (there's no ground in the box) and a screw labelled Common. What the heck is the common for?

Did you buy a 3-way switch instead of a 2-way? If you paid more than 25 cents for it, then you did. That "Common" is to allow two switches to work together e.g. a switch at each end of a long hallway, etc. Nothing wrong with using a 3-way switch in a 2-way application, although you paid triple the price you needed. However, I'm not sure if an extra 60 cents is worth the hassle of returning the 3-way for a 2-way and wiring it in.

-Agg97
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