I know a lot of people like the idea of hiding closed posts from searches, but I don't think that's the best idea...

When doing a search, if I come across a [closed] question, my head does try to ignore it and move to the next item in the results list. However, I often find that if I review those closed (duplicate) questions, useful information may be found in the internally linked duplicate.

The search results don't indicate why a question was closed, but if it was closed as a duplicate, it would be helpful to offer a link to the original question right there along side the closed question identified in the search results.

For example, this question links to another by the same person (and in this example, they appear next to each other in the results, but it's not always so obvious):

Duplicate Question Details

The only way to see that link and the reason for the closure is to open the link to the question.

I propose that the link see at the top of this page also be listed next to the main link like so:

Proposed New Results

The formatting/placement is not so critical; this is just an idea. Overall, it may be helpful to show this here, so that someone searching knows that there may be an answer for them in one of the two links, especially given that the tags of these two questions are quite different from the another.

2 Answers 2


If the duplicate of the closed question is higher in the search results then the question that is listed as the duplicate then I'd say there is a problem with the search not returning good results. If the question that is linked to from the close question is actually above the closed question in the results, then what purpose does this provide? In theory you should be looking at the higher ranked results first, so you should have already seen the un-closed question.

  • 2
    Search sucks, everyone knows. SE was hiring a search architect to fix it Commented Jul 2, 2012 at 17:32
  • 1
    The case may be that the higher-listed result is not an obvious answer to your question. i.e. the title is misleading or ill-formed.
    – Gaffi
    Commented Jul 2, 2012 at 17:39

There's just nowhere to put this kind of information into the search results without a) extending the results way more than needed and b) confusing people with extra links.

The two questions you point out aren't great examples as the duplicated question is also closed. Both of those questions should just be deleted. This is basically your only complaint:

The only way to see that link and the reason for the closure is to open the link to the question.

What's the problem with that? It's an extra link you have to click...

The problem here is that the two questions could be very different. If your search didn't return the duplicated question, then it's very useful to users to check and see if their question is the same as the one that came up in search, before going off to the other question to get an answer. If you just skip to the duplicated question, it may not appear as though it's the same issue.

Not all duplicates are as straight-forward as others. One question could have extremely different wording, but happens to be the one that a user found. Our duplicate notice is telling them "this issue is actually the same as this other issue (even though it may not appear the same); you can find answers there."

if they were sent straight to the duplicate, they may be confused if the question isn't formulated in the same way they were trying to ask(or find) their question, and may not even look at the answers. I see these types of duplicates in HTML and CSS all the time. A user thinks something is causing something, but it's actually something else that's causing that something. That duplicate question is a great starting post to finding that out, though.

Also note that unanswered questions which are closed as duplicates automatically redirect to the duplicated question for users not logged in.

  • 1) I don't feel my example image takes up an inordinate amount of space, so it would not be much of an impact. 2) I agree that my example was not the best, but that doesn't make the point any less valid. 3) I agree, it isn't a huge issue to click one more link, but I'm targeting those questions that would be skipped entirely because of the closed flag (see the links at the top of the question).
    – Gaffi
    Commented Jul 2, 2012 at 20:09
  • 4) If two questions are very different, yet still duplicates, then all the more reason they should be linked in the search results. A duplicate question will (if closed correctly) have an applicable answer, which may not be found in my original search. 5) I don't agree they should be sent directly to the duplicate, merely that the user be informed that a particular closed question may have already been answered elsewhere (with a link, instead of the current, uninformative [closed] label). -- It appears you agree with #5 based on your second-to-last paragraph, even!
    – Gaffi
    Commented Jul 2, 2012 at 20:11
  • The duplicate couldn't be placed there. There's no measurement for how long the question's title will actually be. It could go to a second line. Also, it is possible for a question to have more than one duplicate listed when it's closed. I don't think the auto-redirection is the smartest choice, but I understand why it's in place.
    – animuson StaffMod
    Commented Jul 2, 2012 at 20:23

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