>I understand better.
>"What is visible" is really a flattenned stack of the visible layers
>(with an eye in the Layer dialog).

Not exactly flattened but merged
Flatten will a remove the alpha channel, replacing any transparent area
with the background color

>The question is the interest of this command.
>Alexia, please, could you detail your example?

well i can not reply for Alexia but i may give a example.

On a hypothetic image add a duplicate layer on top in  Overlay mode give me 
excellent result to enhance details and contrast on some area
 But terrible result on others

On the other hand a similar process but in Multiply mode will do the opposite 
,improving that  part (i.e under-saturated and too pale sky and clouds)that 
overlay mode will screw up ,but worsening the rest,

 with NEW from visible i may save, and then merge the best of both combination  

 apply new from visible for combination-1,(overlay)
 toggle off visibility of that new layer, 
 repeat the process to save result of combination-2(multiply)

then i may erase with more on less opacity what i do not like on the New merged 
top layer and when happy of the combination , save

 you will not able to get the same using "merge visible layers"
 once merged  will become impossible to recombine the layers in a different  

You may not need that feature

But if you would need it , without NEW from visible,you would need to get 
trough 5 no too much intuitive steps instead then a single click

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