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Today I was reviewing question for close and I got this question:

How to find latitude and longtitude using zipcode only?

Someone had proposed that this question was an exact duplicate of this question:

http://stackoverflow.com/questions/16978286/how-to-find-latitude-and-longtitude-using-zipcode

Should I have closed the first question as a duplicate of the second question, which is already closed? The biggest problem I see is that the question its a duplicate of has no answers and has a vote count of -5, ie it's a terrible question.

If a user finds the first question and follows the link to the second they'll be more than a bit disappointed:)

As I understand from this answer, it should be impossible for both to be closed and marked as a duplicate.

This might be a duplicate of the following question:

Prevent circular close as exact duplicate loop

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If it makes you feel any better both of those questions are likely to be deleted. –  Anthony Grist Jun 7 '13 at 14:48
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3 Answers

up vote 5 down vote accepted

Normally you would not close a question as a duplicate of a question that is closed and/or has no answers, but this specific case is special in that the OP of both questions is the same person. His first question was closed, so rather than fix it, he just reasked the same question. In this case, the 2nd question should be closed as a duplicate of the first.

However, when this happens, it might be polite to suggest to the OP that rather than reask the same question, he should address the comments in the first question by editing that question. If he does that, it could get the first question reopened.

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As for now, you cannot close a question as duplicate of a question without accepted or up-voted answers.
This also means you cannot select as duplicate a question that doesn't have answers and that is already closed. In this case, rather than closing the question as duplicate, you should close it for the same reason the other question has been closed: off-topic, not a real question, not constructive. A question that duplicates an off-topic question is still off-topic, and a duplicate of a not constructive question is still not constructive.

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Thinking about this some more, maybe a good solution would be for the system to disable the close as duplicate feature if the duplicate has no accepted answer and is itself already closed.

That would allow the reviewer's to close poor questions but not allow situations like this.

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I believe that is how the system already works on non-meta sites, but as I mentioned in my answer, this specific situation is a special case. –  psubsee2003 Jun 7 '13 at 14:43
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