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Duplicates of an outdated question
Within limits, can duplicate questions be safely asked on meta?

Should we necessarily close a question on meta if it's a duplicate of a question asked years ago?

Stack Overflow has change a lot in the last few years, and I think it might occasionally be useful to start certain discussions anew.

The question to which I'm referring is this one, which is a duplicate of this one

I know the usual argument is that you can just post a new answer to an old question, but I'm not sure how helpful that really is. The old question will likely be filled with old, possibly out-of-date answers, and it's entirely likely the old-question OP is long gone.

And to preempt any dirty little straw men, no, I'm not saying people should get to start new threads every day about the "pr0blem filter" or stripping the @, etc. I'm talking about things that may have been asked in another era—2009—and since forgotten about.

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    "and since forgotten about" Closing a new question as a duplicate of the old question will "remind" people about it, prompting a flurry of new activity and reconsideration. Can you point to any actual harms or disadvantages of the current practice, or is this just purely speculative? Commented Feb 27, 2012 at 18:42
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    @Cody - I'm speculating that throwing new answers amid crusty, likely out-of-date, likely joke answers from '09, likely with a lot of upvotes, might be less productive than occasionally standing back and letting a new thread form. Commented Feb 27, 2012 at 18:44
  • I was wondering if an ironic duplicate existed. Now I wonder if random will make an ironic closure :) Commented Feb 27, 2012 at 18:53
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    @random where rrrrrrrr u?
    – Naftali
    Commented Feb 27, 2012 at 18:54
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    @Cody - also, evaluating whether the current system is best, or if relaxing the standards in the way I describe would be better is hard because we've never done the latter. Like I said, this is pure speculation. Commented Feb 27, 2012 at 18:54
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    Why not, everything else on meta is different...
    – casperOne
    Commented Feb 27, 2012 at 19:41
  • All my standards are duplicate. Some triplicate.
    – Pollyanna
    Commented Feb 27, 2012 at 19:47

2 Answers 2


Should we necessarily close a question on meta if it's a duplicate of a question asked years ago?

No, not necessarily. If something's actually changed in the intervening period of time that would suggest that the conversation would somehow be fundamentally different if posed now than it was originally, it stands to reason that a separate, independent question might be a good choice in some cases.

However, this is often not the case for bug reports like the one that you've used as an example. While it's true that there are occasionally site changes that give cause to review previously dismissed bugs, in most situations the circumstances surrounding the issue were the same then as they are now.

Though it's possible that the original report was forgotten, I'm inclined to believe that it's really just remained a non-issue (otherwise, there would have been consequences). You could argue that if that were the case the original question might be sporting the infamous tag, but I don't feel that that's strictly necessary.

Granted, the two top answers on the original question do make light of the situation by using similar techniques to the one reported to give "joke" replies. But even those replies, along with the others, still highlight two important points:

  1. The problem can manifest itself in different ways, each of which would need their own fix
  2. There's nothing to suggest the issue is harmful to the point that it's worth the investment to fix

Based on that, I don't see any reason not to close as a duplicate given that this new post doesn't really bring - to borrow from what Won't said - anything new to the table, and I apply a similar reasoning in the more general case.


I'm not a big dupe-close-voter... Unless the dupe doesn't bring any value to the table.

The accepted route is to go to the original and place a bounty on it.

enter image description here

Meta rep is pretty useless. Its just proof that you can freehand circle like a boss. Best to spend every ounce of it on the proposals you want.

Think of it this way: We have fifteen different proposals which cover almost the same ground and that have 2-3 vote each... or we have one proposal which has been edited to add more detail or to clarify and that has 45 votes.

Which is going to attract the most attention?

  • Because you answer meta questions like a boss.
    – casperOne
    Commented Feb 27, 2012 at 19:42
  • Why the bump?? Trying to hit 20K??? :-D Commented Feb 29, 2012 at 20:44
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    @AdamRackis: Nah, that white background in the image blending into the question bugs the crap out of me. Guess I'll spend this rep on a bounty!
    – user1228
    Commented Feb 29, 2012 at 20:52

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