The current interface, or perhaps the wording, can leave users wondering which question is the exact duplicate. So the current closure due to duplicate banner could be improved with a link to the question that is allegedly an exact duplicate. The possible duplicates box could remain up the top, but the text 'exact duplicate' in the closed banner should be a clickable link.

I'm assuming the current system closes a question as an exact duplicate if five users vote it is the duplicate of one other question. If they are voting it's a duplicate, but voting on different questions, then it should not be closed yet because there is still contention on why it is a duplicate. I feel this is necessary because there can be subtle differences in similar questions, and as far as I'm aware you can't cast a vote that a question isn't a duplicate of one of the possible duplicates.

Further, the possible duplicates shouldn't include a question which is already closed as a duplicate because this can make confusing cyclic linking such as in this question. All duplicates and their answers should point to some 'parent' duplicate.

Ironically, I think my own question here is a possible duplicate of this question, but the comments and answers on there don't really resolve things in my opinion. If we know which question it's an exact dupe of, what is the harm in having it clearly linked in the closure banner?

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As far as your first paragraph goes, I'm confused as to what you are asking for, because there is a clickable link in the box at the top. –  jonsca Aug 23 '11 at 4:15
    
to clarify: there are clickable links to several 'possible' duplicates, without indication of which was voted as the exact duplicate. and the closed as exact duplicate banner, which is lower down on the page, has no link to the duplicate. –  wim Aug 23 '11 at 4:17
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I see what you mean now. A question can be an exact duplicate of more than one other question. Voters could technically vote for up to 5 different duplicates (I've never seen that, so I don't know if there are nuances to that case), but all the votes still count towards closing the question. –  jonsca Aug 23 '11 at 4:23
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See the faq question on this for some more info. –  jonsca Aug 23 '11 at 4:30
    
if 'a question can be an exact duplicate of more than one other question', then logically the whole chain of exact duplicates can be rearranged in a star formation so all the dupes point to one question (transitive property of equality). at the very least the wording should simply be rephrased to 'closed as duplicate'. the current wording leaves the user wondering which of the possible duplicates is the exact duplicate. –  wim Aug 23 '11 at 4:33
    
Perhaps something like possible exact duplicates (sounds funny, but I think that describes it)? As far as arranging them goes, I tend to avoid Topology on an empty stomach. ;) –  jonsca Aug 23 '11 at 4:40
    
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+1. I know that this has been addressed before, but I still don't like the word exact. How about directly related to? –  M. Tibbits Aug 23 '11 at 5:34
    
My close as duplicate link is wrong, please don't use it. –  Lance Roberts Aug 23 '11 at 13:20
    
@jonsca: Actually, it could also be two people voting for different duplicates, one for "not a real question", one for "localized" and one for "off-topic", and it still will get closed as duplicate. –  Paŭlo Ebermann Aug 23 '11 at 13:30
    
@Paŭlo Thank you. I haven't observed all of these edge cases, but it makes sense. –  jonsca Aug 23 '11 at 13:36
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2 Answers

up vote 10 down vote accepted

If they are voting it's a duplicate, but voting on different questions, then it should not be closed yet because there is still contention on why it is a duplicate.

Eh...

Sometimes, there are a lot of duplicates. A lot of duplicates. I've seen - and posted - comments pointing out dozens. In some cases, a moderator could reasonably merge them and make fewer duplicates, but this isn't something that can be done easily by a normal user while voting to close, and in the meanwhile linking to multiple questions at least gives the reader various places to look for an answer that meets his needs.

And sometimes, folks ask multiple questions in a single "question". Shocking, eh? Almost as bad as cramming multiple feature requests into a single meta post... But they do it! And you'll end up with multiple existing questions that answer this to-be-closed omnibus.

The "duplicate" banner was originally created sort of organically, back when the system didn't enforce linking to the duplicate post when voting to close. So when that was baked into the system itself, the multi-dup ability came with it. And a good thing too - real life is far more messy than an idealistic "single question - single duplicate" system would allow for.

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you raise some good points, and i learn now my assumption "that closed as exact duplicate" does NOT mean 5 people voted on the same duplicate. then the wording is misleading, why the use of the word exact here and not simply 'closed as duplicate' .. other posts on meta seem to show more people confused by this wording. –  wim Aug 23 '11 at 5:27
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Just to add a bit to Shog's answer, often when I've flagged questions as an exact duplicate, they aren't exactly duplicate. (I mean it's silly because we'd hope that no user just copies, word for word, another question in its entirety) Often I find that a piece of the question was asked here, and a piece there, etc. I will only vote for a close if the entirety of a question has been addressed before. But very often I find that newer questions are asked as a logical progression from one or more parents. It is possible to flag one (and only one) question, but often I add more related links in the comments as @Shog has done above to you request. Hence, for me at least, it doesn't make sense to highlight only one question as the duplicate.

Lastly, as to your point of duplicate of duplicate, I think that it grows organically (to borrow Shog's word) where eventually we'd like higher viewed, well answered, cleanly edited questions which address the core issues. That said, this is all a work in progress.

Art is never finished, only abandoned
    -- Leonardo Da Vinci

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