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In the past, when we closed a question as a duplicate of another, it had to be:

  1. An exact duplicate, in the sense that it should be nearly identical to the original question, and
  2. Only the question (and not the answers) were generally evaluated for duplicity.

The new duplicate banner looks like this (example):

This question already has an answer here:
How can i put regex.matches into an array? 1 answer

and the new close banner says:

marked as duplicate by Joseph Silber, Robert Harvey♦ 1 min ago

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.

Does that mean that:

  1. We should no longer evaluate questions themselves for duplication, but instead look for suitable answers to the duplicate question, and

  2. Duplicate questions have to have actionable answers to be considered real duplicates, and

  3. Duplicates no longer have to be exact, in the 95% sense?

Given the presence of the "Ask a New Question" link, should users immediately ask a new question, instead of editing and trying to get their duplicate reopened?

In The Wikipedia of Long Tail Programming Questions, it says:

If you’re going to close a user’s question as a duplicate, it has to be a real duplicate. For example, if a user asks, “What does the IP address 128.0.1.1/24 mean?” it’s OK to close that as a duplicate of a more general question like “What do IP addresses of the form a.b.c.d/e mean?” But it’s not OK to close it as a duplicate of a twenty-seven page guide to netmasks. That’s the moral equivalent of saying “RTFM.”

Does that still apply?

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I like the new duplicate banner. Now people can stop complaining on Meta "well, it may have the same answer, but the question isn't the same." –  animuson Feb 6 '13 at 19:20
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I was also wondering about this, too. –  nhahtdh Feb 6 '13 at 19:23
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"If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question."...hmm, that seems to leave room for misinterpretation. –  Bart Feb 6 '13 at 19:29
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@Bart: It gets worse. The new question will be "marked as duplicate" also, many downvotes will occur, and there will be wailing and gnashing of teeth. –  Robert Harvey Feb 6 '13 at 19:33
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The line "This question has been asked before and already has an answer" implies that you still are only supposed to close questions "that have been asked before", meaning they should still be duplicate questions in order to close as a duplicate. But I agree that the presence of the "ask a new question" link needs some clarification, as ideally we'd like users to edit their questions to clarify how it's not a duplicate of the linked questions and have their question reopened, instead of simply asking a new question and having the process repeat itself –  Rachel Feb 6 '13 at 19:40
    
@Rachel: I've added a clarification to my question, although it has nothing to do with the Ask a New Question link (people seem to be focusing on that). –  Robert Harvey Feb 6 '13 at 19:42
    
+1 ask a new question link is really not good idea ..or good for troll NullPointer who ask crap question and got closed than go to that link and ask that question again .. –  NullPoiиteя Feb 6 '13 at 19:43
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I very much like that they removed the word "exact" because it never meant that. For two questions to be exact it needs to be a word for word textual match. Removing "exact" just brings it in line with what was actually meant, which is the quoted paragraph Robert posted in this question. –  Servy Feb 6 '13 at 19:46
    
Does anyone have the sub-text that was used before the change that can include it in this question, just as a point of comparison? –  Servy Feb 6 '13 at 19:46
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@Servy I believe it was the text still in the faq: "This question covers exactly the same content as earlier questions on this topic; its answers may be merged with another identical question." –  bfavaretto Feb 6 '13 at 19:48
    
@Servy: There's a screenshot at Wording of possible exact duplicates when closing the question, as backup to bfavaretto's comment. –  Josh Caswell Feb 6 '13 at 20:21
    
@Servy: "Exact" was never meant to indicate that the text was identical. I'm quite certain that the only duplicates that are exact in that way are those where the OP's question got closed, and they decided to copy/paste their question into a new post. More info here. –  Robert Harvey Feb 7 '13 at 1:08
    
@RobertHarvey I know that, my point is that is was a misleading statement. I know a handful of people who's questions were closed as a dup said, "but it's not exactly the same" followed by a list of trivial changes not germane to the question at hand. –  Servy Feb 7 '13 at 14:57
    
@Servy: It swings both ways. Questions are sometimes closed as duplicates if there is an answer on another question that answers the OP's question, even if the two questions are not related at all. –  Robert Harvey Feb 7 '13 at 15:32
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@RobertHarvey And in general that's something I feel shouldn't be happening. I would vote to reopen such a question. –  Servy Feb 7 '13 at 15:33

1 Answer 1

This is my understanding/opinion about the changes that have happened recently

There has been a change in policy. Questions now need to have an upvoted or accepted answer to be a master question for a duplicate. That's why the wording is:

This question already has an answer here:

(emphasis added)

So:

Does that mean we should no longer evaluate questions themselves for duplication, but instead look for suitable answers to the duplicate question

Yes. You can no longer close questions just because they are a duplicate, they have to have an answer, so you need to be looking more for an answer than for a question.

Duplicates no longer have to be exact, in the 95% sense?

No. Questions still need to be an exact duplicate.

As Rachel pointed out in a comment:

The line "This question has been asked before and already has an answer" implies that you still are only supposed to close questions "that have been asked before", meaning they should still be duplicate questions to close as a duplicate.

As to the quote from The Wikipedia of Long Tail Programming Questions:

I think this still applies. A question about "What does this IP address mean?" should be duped to "How to interpret IP address'?"

TL;DR

To sum up. The only thing that has changed is master questions need to have an upvoted or accepted answer. I myself don't like/agree with this change, and there has been (still is?) and on-going debate on this issue in We should be able to close questions as duplicates of any question.

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5  
I want to upvote your answer, but I can't because I disagree with your final comments that you don't see any good reason for this change. I like the fact we can't close-as-duplicate to an unanswered question anymore. It's really annoying to have your question closed as a duplicate to an older question that doesn't get many views, and has no good answer. –  Rachel Feb 6 '13 at 20:32
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@Rachel I understand where you are coming from, and as I only participate in mainly one site, I may be biased. This answer voices my concerns/opinions. You don't have to vote for me, but I wanted you to understand where I'm coming from ;) –  ɥʇǝS Feb 6 '13 at 20:39
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@Rachel: The old behaviour optimises for the database and for the regular answerers. It doesn't optimise for the asker of a dup, you're right. But I don't see why it should -- you should already have searched! It's really annoying to have yet another duplicate question asked in the first place. –  Lightness Races in Orbit Feb 14 '13 at 13:54

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