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Related: Re-posts of questions closed as OT or NARQ should also receive auto-downvote


A user (usually new user) posts two or more identical questions - both are clearly bad questions (NARQ, blatantly off topic, etc.). Another user picks up on this and points it out in the comments:

You just asked this 5 minutes ago! [links to duplicate]

Let's assume both questions are definitely not useful or welcome, maybe not even legible.

How do we handle the closing of either one? They are indeed duplicates (of each other).

  • Is there any purpose in closing a bad question as duplicate, if the original has no value?
  • Is it better to close NARQ as NARQ, even if it is a dupe of a NARQ?
  • Do the other close reasons accumulate "bad credit" for the user (aside from the auto downvote), where duplicate does not?
  • Does it truly not matter, because they will both end up lost in the trash can?

I asked this before as part of a wildly unpopular, quickly closed, much-too-long post - but after reading all the links provided as well as the official stance on duplicates, I still don't feel like I found a clear explaination on this.

Closing as a duplicate of a crappy or about-to-be-closed question seems pointless, but I see people do it all the time. I know this is probably splitting hairs, but what is the official position on this, or the correct close reason for duplicate bad questions (usually from the same user)?

Another way to put this:

Should closing as duplicate be reserved for legitimate questions?

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up vote 6 down vote accepted

I don't think it matters much. If it's an exact duplicate by the same author an hour later sometimes I'll close as duplicate just to demonstrate to OP that I see what they're doing. Otherwise I'm fine with closing a crappy duplicate question as NaRQ.

share|improve this answer
"I see what you're doing" - That's the only reason I can see closing a crappy question as dupe, but it seems to me that this could be misuse of the dupe close reason. However, I'm not sure - which is one of the reasons I asked the downvoted question I linked to: I don't know what the true purpose of closing as dupe is. I assumed it was for closing questions that have already been well covered, so as not to bury all the wonderful answers it's already received. – Wesley Murch Jun 30 '11 at 10:31
How about my third bullet point: "Do the other close reasons accumulate "bad credit" for the user (aside from the auto downvote), where duplicate does not?" - meaning, do they figure in to whatever system is in place that automatically temporarily suspends users for improper behavior? This system does exist in some form, correct? – Wesley Murch Jun 30 '11 at 11:41
@Wesley: I can only answer part of that. Some close reasons do add an automatic downvote from the system. However, I don't know if (or how much) closed questions factor in to the automatic suspension system. I imagine they do, but the only things I know for certain about it are that downvoted and deleted questions factor in to different degrees. – Bill the Lizard Jun 30 '11 at 12:16
Thanks Bill, I believe Jeff's comments on the other answer have made this clear enough. Looks like the answer is "It doesn't matter", so you were right on. Quoting: "it is instructive in that it lets them know we see they are asking duplicates, and this counts against them... it's irrelevant unless all you do is post questions that get closed, downvoted, etc" – Wesley Murch Jun 30 '11 at 12:19

It depends from the specific case.

Supposing that the OP, to a comment saying "you just asked the same question 6 minutes ago," replies with "yes, but it has been closed," then I would probably close the question using the same closing reason of the first question (NaRQ or OT).
If the OP created another question because he didn't remember he already asked the question, or because he didn't see his question in the list of questions, then I would probably close the question as duplicate.

Looking for duplicates is probably the first task done, especially when somebody remember having read a similar question; when the duplicate is found, is quite normal to close the question as duplicate.

When the question that is duplicated from the new question is off-topic or not a real question, or not constructive, then also the new question is off-topic, or not a real question, or not constructive. Both the closing reasons would be then valid, and probably there is not a priority between the closing reasons, even though, looking at the order they are shown in the closing dialog, it seems the closing reasons are ordered in a particular way.
To make an example, if somebody ask a question about the meaning of an Italian word in on English Language & Usage, the question would be closed as off-topic, not as general reference, even in the case the meaning of that word could be easily find on an online dictionary. The order of the closing reasons could be interpreted as "the previous reasons are not applicable, but this very reason is applicable."

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Exactly, - they're both bad questions, so why bother with the dupe link back to the exact same crappy question that no one is interested in anyways. Just close it for the same reason. Sure, closing as dupe is technically valid (especially since the definition of dupe is fairly broad on SO), but is this what closing as dupe is intended for? To show that "This question (that doesn't belong here) has been covered already (by being closed as NARQ)?" – Wesley Murch Jun 30 '11 at 11:35
IMO, closing a question as duplicate gives a different message to the OP, such as "look, you think you asked a different question, but you asked the same question you asked before," or "look, you asked the same question asked from somebody else." There isn't a reason to choose one closing reason or the other, because both the closing reasons would apply. – kiamlaluno Jun 30 '11 at 11:50
@wesley yes, it is instructive in that it lets them know we see they are asking duplicates, and this counts against them. Not mandatory though. – Jeff Atwood Jun 30 '11 at 11:59
@Jeff: Do all questions closed as dupe "count against" the user, or only under certain circumstances? The reason I ask is if there is an abusive user (or one that is unwilling or unable to read and/or follow the rules), I'd like be sure that the abuse is "registered", but for honest folks asking real (albeit duplicate) questions, I don't know if this is fair. This would imply that closing as duplicate is situationally a form of "punishment" rather than helpful. Is that correct? – Wesley Murch Jun 30 '11 at 12:05
@wesley it's irrelevant unless all you do is post questions that get closed, downvoted, etc. For most normal users it's about as "punishing" as farting in church. Now, if all you do is fart.. – Jeff Atwood Jun 30 '11 at 12:15

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