I just noticed, if you vote to close a question because of exact duplicate, the text states This question has been asked before and already has an answer. It's the second part of that statement that puzzles me and already has an answer. Why is this? If a question is duplicated, why should it matter whether or not the duplicate already has an answer? I think that second part should be removed, it should not matter whether or not the duplicate question has been answered.

Suppose I ask a question which no one is able to answer. The question sits there for a few months. Then someone else comes along and asks the same question, which again is unable to be answered. They're still duplicates, whether there's an answer or not. There are some questions which no one on StackOverflow knows an answer for. Then suppose the issue is so big that many people ask the same question. We just have to grin and bear it and let them keep piling up?

I think something new should be implemented. There needs to be a vote to "link with another question", not "close as duplicate". This could work even for those questions which do have answers. There should be a mechanism to "Link" questions together. That way, suppose the same question's been asked 10 times. Sure, maybe they need to be closed. And we already have links to the other question. But, there needs to be something where all the related questions which have been officially linked together to be listed in the same place.

If you open one of such questions, there will be a list of "Other similar questions". And I'm not talking about "Similar" or "Recommended" questions. I'm talking about questions which users have actually voted as duplicates, and which are explicitly listed in all the duplicated copies.


After discovering the "Linked" list on the right side, I realized something else. This "Linked" list shows just any other questions which have been posted anywhere in the question/comments. This is close to what I mean, but not quite.

That opened my eyes to another possibility...

  1. Duplicate question is asked
  2. Users vote to "Link" with the other question
  3. Question(s) which are duplicated do not get closed
  4. When enough votes are cast, question gets linked
  5. More of a "Merge" occurs when questions get linked
  6. When any of these are viewed, all linked questions show in the same page
  7. Also, all answers to all linked questions show together in the same page
  8. Comments and Answers to any linked question automatically show for all linked questions

So, in the end, I'm suggesting a virtual merge of all linked (duplicated) questions all together in the same page. None of these questions gets closed. Instead, all linked questions/comments/answers automatically get listed in the same page. No hard feelings for being closed. Everything can be seen at once. Any answer is associated with all linked questions.

  • Read Changes to "close as duplicate". – AndrewC Feb 8 '13 at 0:44
  • @AndrewC I understand, but if the user really is asking the same question (whether or not the wording is the same), this is practically promoting duplicate questions to exist. If there's no answer to the original, it doesn't mean it's not a duplicate. – Jerry Dodge Feb 8 '13 at 0:51
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    @JerryDodge Yes but it will not help the user, and that is the real point. – MarJamRob Feb 8 '13 at 0:51
  • I have a few questions which no one's been able to answer. Suppose someone else asks the exact same question. I understand we don't want to make the second asker feel bad about asking it again. But I'm also sure we don't want the same question to be asked more than once, even if there's not an answer. I'm going to modify my question and mention how I think this should work. I know you guys just changed this but I respectfully disagree with this wording. – Jerry Dodge Feb 8 '13 at 0:54
  • @MarJamRob Absolutely. "We're not allowing answers here because we already failed to answer a question a bit like this over there." is decidedly unhelpful. I suggest in my answer to link them via comments, but neither should be closed as a duplicate until there's an answer (unless they're bad for another reason). – AndrewC Feb 8 '13 at 0:55
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    Also, who's to say whose question should be closed and whose should stay open? That I think can make people even more ticked off, when they see their question got closed but someone else with the same question didn't. That means the first to ask always gets the trophy and everyone else gets the shaft. – Jerry Dodge Feb 8 '13 at 1:01
  • @JerryDodge "Who's to say..." Good point. (In the end, the one with the answer would stay open.) – AndrewC Feb 8 '13 at 1:05
  • and if both of them have equally good answers? – Jerry Dodge Feb 8 '13 at 1:06
  • Possible Duplicate: meta.stackexchange.com/q/166514/203389 – ɥʇǝS Feb 8 '13 at 1:06
  • I just actually stumbled on the "Linked" list on the right side, after someone posts any link to another question. This is close, but not quite what I mean. Just the existence of a link to another question shouldn't trigger this link. There should be an explicit user vote to link it with another duplicate, not close for duplicate. And linked questions can maybe even be viewed together all in the same page, with all the answers to all those questions listed in the same page too. No matter how it's done, "Closing" always upsets people. – Jerry Dodge Feb 8 '13 at 1:13
  • I just added to my question to include this. Or it can be "Merge" instead of "Link" or "Close for Duplicate". In reality, the questions don't literally get merged, but all related questions automatically show in the same page at the same time together, I call it "Virtual Merge" because the questions are still separate, but show together. – Jerry Dodge Feb 8 '13 at 1:23
  • I had some more thought about my idea and realized it's not such a good idea, because of possible confusion over which answer is to which question. – Jerry Dodge Feb 9 '13 at 7:43

Yes under the new system, you have to find an answer. What use is it to the general good of the internet to close as a duplicate of something without an answer?

We should

  • answer one of them, then close the other as a duplicate, or
  • close both of them for some other reason if they're not suitable.

In the situation that this is a duplicate and there's no answered version, but the question's OK, I think it's fine to comment a link to the other question (and visa-versa) so that when we finally get an answer to one the other can be closed as a duplicate. Maybe the fact that the new question is near the top of the homepage means it'll happen to get answered this time.

Mostly though, we close some basic, often-asked question as a duplicate. It's rare that there are no good answers to such questions.


It matters because the Duplicate will not answer the question asked again, if the original has no answer. There is no point in linking to a dupe if it won't help anyone.

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