Are two questions, A and B, identical when question B is answered, without any discussion or instruction or explanation, as a tiny fraction within question A? In the question below, the overlap is approx 5%.

For example, see this question of mine that was recently closed as being identical to this other question.

My title is "Super hero recognition" (Question B), whilst the other question is "How does the bounty system work?" (Question A).

I asked my question in order to understand how to reward superheroes who had assisted me in answering an important (to me) question. I had absolutely no idea that the bounty system could be used in this way.

Before asking my question, I searched along these lines: recognition, heroes, super-heroes, after-the-fact rewards, etc. The bounty system, from what I knew of it -- and by its very name, was created to encourage a-priori assistance. It never occurred to me to consider that vehicle.

From the number of upvotes on my question, I was not alone in this.

From the answers given in Question A "How the bounty system works", I still did not have all aspects of my question answered -- perhaps little more than half.

Am I wrong, or is there a tendency for mods to be a little too quick to press the flagged-as-identical button on their keyboards?

  • 4
    The answer you marked as answering your question there told you nothing you could not have found in the question that yours was marked as a duplicate of. Seems like it worked perfectly. Nov 26 '12 at 20:40
  • Yeah, I'm not sure I see the problem either. I agree it wasn't an exact duplicate (Meta is more lenient in this to better manage feature requests) but ultimately everything worked out to your satisfaction, didn't it?
    – Pekka
    Nov 26 '12 at 20:52
  • 7
    If your question was not fully answered, why did you accept an answer? And you do realize that you could have simply clarified in the comments how the supposed duplicate fails to address your question? Heck, you could have even flagged a moderator explaining this. Closed questions are not necessarily dead and can be reopened. And for what it's worth, the 5 users who closed your question on Meta at least are regular users. Though some of them are mods on other sites.
    – Bart
    Nov 26 '12 at 21:33

please note: This isn't a policy I'm advocating, I'm pointing out some stuff I found helpful when it was pointed out to me when it happened to me.

Closed as duplicate is often more about the duplication of answers than questions, especially here on meta, as I know from my own experience. Your question was closed as a duplicate by people who felt that the other question's answers are good answers for your question, and it's not meant as a criticism of your question.

You (and a diamond mod) disagree that it's a duplicate, and your question can be reopened if enough people vote for that.

However, questions closed as duplicates of other questions are often left lying around undeleted so that people looking for answers to similar problems get signposted to the other answers. (The intent is to try and have a single place for good information about something, rather than lots of OK information all over the place.)

by the way, thanks for wanting to give back to helpful users; it's always nice when people want to recognise effort.


The policy has now changed (early 2013) so that questions are "Marked as duplicate" rather than "closed". It still stops people from answering, just like closing does, but sounds more polite. The close reason no longer talks about your question being the same but says your question has an answer under the other question.

  • 1
    I don't agree with your definition of the "closed as duplicate" reason. Here's what the dialog says: This question covers exactly the same content as earlier questions on this topic; its answers may be merged with another identical question. Seems like the close reason is geared towards the question and not the answers. Nov 26 '12 at 22:12
  • I disagree, it's possible to have the same answer to vastly different questions. That doesn't mean that the questions are identical and the question is what you're voting on. Nov 26 '12 at 22:12
  • 4
    Here on Meta however, many questions are closed as a duplicate with the reasoning that the duplicate contains exactly what we would have answered. Even if the questions are not exactly identical.
    – Bart
    Nov 26 '12 at 22:13
  • In this case @Bart, the questions were duplicates. The OP was asking whether they could recognise a answer after the question has been answered. The question in the FAQ was actually incorrect and missing the heading "Can I award a bounty to an old answer?" (I've fixed it). Nov 26 '12 at 22:17
  • 2
    @Ben Sure, not arguing against that. Just stating that Meta sometimes is ever so slightly different.
    – Bart
    Nov 26 '12 at 22:20
  • @rekatihw I disagreed too, but I'm talking about de facto rather than de jure.
    – AndrewC
    Nov 26 '12 at 22:25
  • @Ben I'm explaining how it came to happen, not advocating a policy. I didn't enjoy it the first time it happened to me, but I came to terms with it, especially when someone explained why and reassured me that it was meant as a signpost. I'm just trying to be similarly helpful here to this OP.
    – AndrewC
    Nov 26 '12 at 22:29

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