Apologies if this is a duplicate, there was a huge amount of noise when I searched META for most votes answers to find how to sort a search by the oldest or the one with the most votes for the answer

When I know a question is a duplicate I want to flag it as such. However I want to choose the oldest duplicate since a lot of duplicate of are themselves duplicates.

So this suggestion is from 2008 and the answer from 2011

Improve tools for closing as duplicate

what is the status on this?

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    I'd say you want to choose the best duplicate, not necessarily the oldest. It frequently happens that there's plenty of dupes and the one with the best answers isn't the first one. (But "sort for most answer votes" is a totally legit suggestion) – Pekka Nov 24 '12 at 9:15
  • "Sort for most answer votes" was suggested here: Improve tools for closing as duplicate it's tagged status-completed though, did I miss something? – Pekka Nov 24 '12 at 9:16
  • @Pekka, I agree, so I want to find the best among the oldest – mplungjan Nov 24 '12 at 9:17
  • You can find best duplicate. But its not necessary it will oldest – A spammer Nov 24 '12 at 9:35
  • @mplungjan hmm. In my eyes, there should be one original question that all other dupes link to. That's often unrealistic, but it should be the ideal to strive for - one resource where answers get highly voted, whose contents are frequently updated, etc... for that, looking for the best among the oldest wouldn't be an important criterion. It would just be finding the best – Pekka Nov 24 '12 at 10:59

What you're asking for is not always possible. In SQL Server, for example, what used to be "the best way" to do something may have been replaced with a better solution in newer versions of SQL Server. As such, the "best" answer today may not coincide with the oldest and/or most up-voted answer. In fact I often see a question being closed as a duplicate of a much older question - yet when I visit the original question the answer is no longer the best answer. Just because the question is the same and there is an accepted answer does not automatically mean that the answer is still a good answer. I'm sure this happens in a variety of other non-stagnant technologies too.

Sadly the only way to improve that scenario would be to have a "best answer" per version, or to consolidate all of the best answers, neither of which are made very easy with the software and the prevailing opinions on the site.

I agree in general with your sentiment, but the difficulty I see is that for some technologies it makes no sense at all, even though for others it is perfectly logical. I don't think there is going to be a flawless way to improve the duplicate finding algorithm across all technologies. For some the highest voted will make sense, but for others it will just lead to quicker inappropriate closing of questions that really have a better answer today than their duplicates provide.

In the end I think that in most cases it will continue to be up to us as close voters to select the duplicate with the best answer. I suspect that even without the example I list above the best answer won't always be the oldest or the one with the most votes.

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  • I guess I agree. In JavaScript I often see FAQs which for many years really do have what I consider canonical answers and even cases where newer answers are not better than older ones since they are written to only work on the newest browsers, where I always try to degrade gracefully on as many browsers as possible. Anyway I just want to have a few more ways to sort - then I can judge better – mplungjan Nov 26 '12 at 7:35

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