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If I post a link in a comment for question A that links to question B, a great feature happens, question B links back to question A.

However, if I indicate an even closer relationship by flagging Question A as a duplicate of Question B, no backlink is set up on question B:

(see here, for an example Question A: What is a good free source control solution and here for the unlinked Question B: What is the best source control product for Visual Studio development? ).

Now, there may be concerns relating to search engines following links to duplicates and that hightening visibility of the duplicates via search, so they should probably be rel=nofollow links, but it'd be much easier to decrease duplication if flagging as duplicate created a widening visibility of potential duplicates.

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up vote 2 down vote accepted

The linked section only applies to what is visibly linked on the question. If you flag a post, that link is not visible. To that end, flagging as a close reason only works if you have less than 3000 reputation, which means you cannot even see that link you have provided without going all the way to your own profile. 10k users will only be able to see the link when using their tools (so, on a completely separate area), leaving only the small number of moderators as actually seeing the link on-hand with the actual question. It is, to effect, a practically absent link.

Unless <10k users seek out the link on the sidebar in expecting there to be hidden pointers to duplicates, this will not improve the visibility of potential duplicates very well. It is out of the way, after all. A much better method of improving the visibility of potential duplicates is to post a comment that states it is a duplicate. It is much more clearly in the initial flow of parsing a question, it allows you to provide context for the link (namely stating that it is a duplicate), and it still places it in the Linked section. Having flags do it alone seems a bit half-way when your intent is to help people identify duplicates.

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Ooooh, I wondered why flagging as duplicate started making an auto-comment recently. Just wasn't visible before. So you're saying best practice is: flag as duplicate (which adds a mostly invisible comment), then add a comment noting that it's a duplicate as well? – Kzqai Jul 28 '11 at 15:11
Seems a bit anti-DRY, but I guess I can do that. Just seems counter-productive for duplication comments to be invisible and no links to be created in this scenario. – Kzqai Jul 28 '11 at 15:16
Anti-DRY? Not sure what you mean by that. Flags are meant to be just directed at moderators (and to a much lesser extent, 10k users using the moderation tools), not for communication on the post itself. – Grace Note Jul 28 '11 at 15:17
Sorry, "Anti-Don't-Repeat-Yourself". Literally in this case since I'd be flagging a post as duplicate, that flagging will create a comment that says "possible duplicate of X" (albeit an invisible one) and then I'd be creating a comment manually that says "possible duplicate of X" again. shrugs Anyway, I guess I can do that, just kinda a clunky approach. – Kzqai Jul 28 '11 at 15:21
@Tchalvak Well, it's not creating a comment in the former case. It's meant to be a private message, so you shouldn't trust it to have a public impact. That's how you should think of it, at least. – Grace Note Jul 28 '11 at 15:23
Yeah, I get that that's the analysis based on current behavior, but in that case the current behavior seems counter-productive since if the comment were public it seems like it'd just have a more beneficial effect for increasing findability of duplicates. Anyway, I can just link and flag. – Kzqai Jul 28 '11 at 15:26

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