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I found this question here on Meta from 2009, and it was closed recently as a duplicate of a question that was posted much later!

Why is that? It's not just that older questions can't be duplicates of newer questions, but I also wonder why people dug up this old one and started to cast close votes on it all of a sudden; it hadn't had any activity for years.

Not that I have much reason to have it reopened or to have the newer one closed, but I'm just curious.

Edit:
Given the responses, this question might be better off as a feature request. So here goes:

Suggestion

Change the text in the "Closed" notification from "This question covers exactly the same content as earlier questions on this topic" to "other questions".

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marked as duplicate by gnat, Lance Roberts, animuson, Hugo Dozois, Martijn Pieters May 23 '13 at 23:08

This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question.

    
Why would that be a problem? –  Michael Petrotta Aug 1 '12 at 5:44
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@MichaelPetrotta Well, for one thing, the Closed message below the post says literally "This question covers exactly the same content as earlier questions on this topic" (emphasis mine). That means the system thinks it can't happen! –  Mr Lister Aug 1 '12 at 5:47
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Yeah... I think that's a technicality, a wording issue. Can you think of other reasons why we wouldn't want to allow a newer, better-formulated question to serve as the target for an older, poorer dupe? –  Michael Petrotta Aug 1 '12 at 5:50
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@MrLister: Hmmm, perhaps that could be reworded then... While it is much more uncommon, it is certainly acceptable. Generally it's better to keep the duplicate which is better worded and has better answers as the primary one. –  animuson Aug 1 '12 at 5:50
    
@animuson OK, so yes, if that word changes, that would be better. I've updated my question now. –  Mr Lister Aug 1 '12 at 6:00
    
How poetic, that this was closed as a dupe of a newer question.. –  Martijn Pieters May 23 '13 at 23:09
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I hate you. I hate all of you. –  Mr Lister May 24 '13 at 7:34
    
I see what has gone into this question as well. hmmm... –  nawfal Jan 1 at 17:37
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1 Answer

Sometimes a newer question is better formulated and has better, more up-to-date answers.

If we find an older question that we missed before (we are all humans here, well, except perhaps Jon Skeet, he's a robot), linking it to a question with better answers and (in this case) better tagging only helps new visitors find the best answers. And that's the goal of Stack Overflow.

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1  
The rest of you are humans?! –  Josh Caswell Aug 1 '12 at 5:52
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I'm about to win the Loebner prize here, give me a break! –  Martijn Pieters Aug 1 '12 at 5:53
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@JoshCaswell I think I am. I know I make mistakes, but then, that could be one of them. –  Mr Lister Aug 1 '12 at 5:54
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