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If two questions are similar but have different focal points / purposes, is the newest one a duplicate?

For example take my Japanese captcha question (hencefort QB). Deemed a duplicate of my Chinese captcha question (hencefort QA).

Does this coincide with SOs definition of a duplicate question? Let's have a look:

"This question covers exactly the same ground as earlier questions on this topic;"

True to a degree (if you ignore language).

"its answers may be merged with another identical question."


QA is asking for the name of a Chinese captcha whereas QB is looking for a Japanese captcha. Look at the accepted answer for QA; it could not possibly be the answer for QB.

Furthermore, let's look at the accepted answer from "When is a duplicate not a duplicate?":

Rule of thumb: If you ask a question similar to another question and it is likely to get the exact same answer, you have yourself a duplicate question.

In your case, take the opposite of that. If the question is similar and it is likely to NOT get the exact same answer, you likely do not have a duplicate.

I know this rule of thumb does not come from SO/SE itself but it seems to me that it has been employed thoroughly on SE until now.
Have I managed to find a loophole/exception? Which is; it is also a duplicate, if the two (similar) questions were asked by the same user.

Can someone clarify if is this true? Is this now an exception?

share|improve this question
Your question is extremely confusing, especially the bold text that is unclear as to the reason it is bold. – jzd May 24 '11 at 16:38
Human judgement is fallible, unfortunately. Reopened. Also, in future, a flag with details (and links) is usually enough to fix this kind of thing. – Won't May 24 '11 at 17:24
@Will Ok thanks, I know now – Adam Lynch May 25 '11 at 7:41

There is no "loophole". Decisions are made by people based on their best judgement with a series of guidelines, not a strict set of unmodifiable rules. They may be right or wrong, and you may agree or not.

For your specific case, you can flag the question for mod attention and explain why they are different (in ten words, not several paragraphs), and you can ask also for reopening.

To avoid this issues in the future, make sure you reference your previous (very similar) question and explain in the question itself why this is a new question and why the answers there cannot be used to answer the new question.

share|improve this answer
+1 for "reference previous questions and explain ... why this is new ... and why the answers there cannot be used" This is part of doing your homework and asking a good question, IMO. – Josh Caswell May 24 '11 at 19:36
Once I spotted that someone hinted at a duplicate, I edited the question to include the explanation which is there now but it still eventually was closed. But I will do this from now on if my question is similar to another. – Adam Lynch May 25 '11 at 7:42
@Adam yes, I saw the edit, but I have no idea about the timings there. It's always safer to put it from the beginning. – Aleadam May 25 '11 at 15:33

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