There was a recent comment thread on this question where one of the moderators claimed that answers with overlap (note: not even exact duplicates, just "overlap") makes the question itself a duplicate.

I fundamentally disagree with this interpretation, and the few related posts I was able to find support this position. Consider the following related meta posts:

If we (as a community) take the position that any post that generates a vaguely related answer makes its parent question an exact duplicate, then shouldn't we start closing any question that offers Hash#new or sprintf "%0.2f" as answers, since those answers clearly have overlap, even if the framing of the question or the underlying objectives are different? That's the end result of such a policy, if carried to its logical extreme.

If there is any value in searching questions at all (as opposed to just answers), then it's in questions that re-frame the issue, offer new context, or identify different objectives to which a given answer pattern may apply.

Don't Get Sidetracked

This question is not really about the referenced question itself. The question is about community policy surrounding "exact duplicates" that aren't necessarily duplicates.

Policy Question, Restated

To restate, shouldn't related questions be left open? If not, please identify a metric for when related answers should trigger a vote-to-close on a non-duplicate question.

  • 5
    I recently refused to VtC a question as a duplicate. It asked the exact same question as a previous one, but using a newer version of the software, and as such had a better answer in the new version. It wouldn't have been helpful to close the new question when the old question didn't address the problem the right way for the newer version.
    – Aaron Bertrand Staff
    Jul 16, 2012 at 15:42

1 Answer 1


The answers have nothing to do with evaluating a question as a duplicate. If you're looking at the answers to try and figure out if a question is a duplicate, you're doing it wrong.

Further Reading
Dr. Strangedupe: Or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying And Love Duplication
Guidelines For Closing Questions as "Exact Duplicate"

  • If the duplicate is old and does not apply to the same version of the software, I don't think it makes sense to send new users, if they are using the latest version (and have tagged as such), to a four year old question whose most upvoted answers, and accepted answer, provide a solution which now has a better alternative (or even worse, the solution provided for the old version is no longer valid). I think in some cases it might actually make sense to close the old question as a duplicate of the new one, or at least allow the new question to live and have a non-closing reference to the old.
    – Aaron Bertrand Staff
    Jul 16, 2012 at 16:29
  • Yes, you can close the old question as a duplicate of the new.
    – user102937
    Jul 16, 2012 at 16:34

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