“Close as duplicate” - what if only the answer is a duplicate?
I have just asked a question on SO: Why does casting a function to a function type that is identical except for return type fail? . One user commented that it might be an exact duplicate of another question ( Is the return type part of the function signature? ), and presumably voted to close it on this basis, as well.
I pointed out in a following comment that my question was distinctly different, and the response in a following comment was:
If you read the answer I referred to you'll see that it explicitly answers your question!
It seems odd to me that a question would be marked as an exact duplicate if the answer to that question is contained within the answer to a different question, even if the questions themselves are different. When I asked about this, a different commenter stated:
It’s a duplicate if the answers to the other question would equally apply here.
Again, it seems strange to me that the category exact duplicate should apply even if the question is different. For example, how should I (or anyone in the future) know to look at a different question for an answer to their question?
It seems to me that if a different question has an applicable answer, then the question itself should not be considered an exact duplicate; but rather, a good answer to the question would be either to link to the answer in the second question, to repeat or copy/past the relevant information from the answer to the second question, or both.
I looked at the StackOverflow FAQ for guidance. It says:
This question covers exactly the same content as earlier questions on this topic; its answers may be merged with another identical question.
This strikes me as possibly ambiguous, but fairly clearly indicates that it is the content of the question, not the content of the answers, that distinguishes exactly duplicated questions.
I would like to gain clarity on the possibly ambiguous definition of "exact duplicate". Specifically, does exact duplicate mean that the content of the question itself is an exact duplicate of the content of another question (regardless of answers to the questions), or is it possible for a question to be an exact duplicate if the answer to another question contains the answer to the original question?
If, in fact, a question is considered an exact duplicate if the answer to it is contained in the answer to a different question, then I would like to understand the rationale behind this decision, given that people browsing or googling in the future will not have good reason to look at a given question if it is not the same question they have.
In my case, I did see the linked question before I asked mine, but I did not look at it because I already knew the answer - so this is a case in point. In this case, the answer to my question is (partially) contained in the answer to the linked question only because the person who composed that answer went above and beyond the call of duty to compose a thorough wiki-style essay that not only answered the specific question, but also touched on other areas as well. That seems like a good reason to link to that answer in the answer to my question - not to mark my question as an exact duplicate.