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Is it really a good idea to use unanswered questions as duplicate question examples when voting to close?

Is it not better to leave the duplicate question open so there is a least a better chance of having at least one variation with an accepted answer?

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3 Answers 3

up vote 2 down vote accepted

No. All this does is fragment the information we store. Closing as duplicate helps consolidate information, even if it's not presently existent.

If there are two places to place the answer, this means that one person is not necessarily going to receive the answer. Furthermore, someone who searches may find the wrong question and think it unanswered. And now we end up with answers split between two questions.

Chances to get the answer are already improved by keeping the duplicate alive but closed. This way, two different searches will be able to yield the same route to provide an answer. It's slightly indirect, but this way both askers only have to monitor a single question for all the answers they'll need.

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I am thinking of the case where the unanswered question is old and unlikely to have an answer accepted. –  chibacity Jan 24 '11 at 14:13
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But, @chibacity, if all works well, then the old question should get some new attention given the reference from the new (closed) question. So: the old question might get new answers after the new question was posted (and closed). (Which is not a good reason to post duplicates, by the way.) –  Arjan Jan 24 '11 at 14:18
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@chibacity There are lots of methods for getting attention to old, unanswered questions. Leaving both questions open just means we get answers in two places, which is worse than answers in one place. –  Grace Note Jan 24 '11 at 14:18
    
@Arjan @Grace I had not been thinking of the attention to the old question angle, very good point. –  chibacity Jan 24 '11 at 14:22

Personally I feel, pointing out a duplicate question even if there are no accepted answers would surely be a good thing. this is because, even when users are checking for similar questions, they do not have to search for answers at two places. Answer should always be found at one place.

Further, the accepting of answer is left to the OP. The answer might possibly solve the duplicate question but may not be marked as answer yet. So it would not be a bad idea to point out the duplicate question.

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All together now:

  • Acceptance has nothing to do with being right
  • Questions are not "open" until accepted then "closed"
  • Acceptance is a power given to the asker who is 1) just one person and 2) often the least qualified to identify the generally correct solution

In short the acceptance status is the least interesting and important fact about any question on a Stack* site.

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