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There are some patterns in a duplicate question network that indicate that something is wrong and that the duplicate links should be fixed:

  • a question is closed as a duplicate of a deleted question
  • a question is closed as a duplicate of a question that is itself closed as a duplicate
  • cyclic closing (though I don't think that is possible anymore)
  • voting or answer length/amount disparity between duplicate source and target. For example, if the question closed as a duplicate has a higher voted and longer answer than the still open duplicate target, maybe the direction should be reversed.

Duplicates to deleted questions should be reviewed, as there might be a better duplicate target. If there isn't a better duplicate, the question should be reopened.

Duplicates of duplicates could be resolved automatically, and both questions should be made duplicates of the final element in the duplicate chain.

Cases of voting disparity in duplicates should also be reviewed and the best question and answer chosen as the canonical duplicate target.

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    Don't forget merging. – Lance Roberts Mar 19 '13 at 14:04
  • Sometimes a question is a closer duplicate of (perhaps almost identical to) another question that is already closed. Choosing that as a target avoids some complaints about it not being an exact duplicate. So it might be on purpose. – Bo Persson Mar 19 '13 at 16:34
  • I've heard some arguments that duplicate chains are acceptable behavior. Cyclic closing isn't possible. There's definitely closures of deleted questions though. I wish I had a way to find those quickly – Ben Brocka Mar 19 '13 at 18:25
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One of the real issues with getting your solutions implemented (and also merging which wasn't mentioned) is that most of this can only be done by mods, who are mega-busy. Us normal users can do the research, but then the only way to communicate everything is in a flag comment, and hope a mod is interested in taking the time to fix the problem.

I think some of this could be solved by giving trusted users (20k+) some more privileges in this area.

For example, give trusted users the ability to change the Close as Duplicate link, maybe using a queue so that other 20ks would have to agree to it. Feature Request now asked here.

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    Merging is a very scary feature, it would have to be made reversible to be able to use it more freely and maybe even give access to it to more users. – Mad Scientist Mar 19 '13 at 14:09
  • Every time I read oh mods are mega-busy I wonder what's stopping SE of getting more moderators – gnat Sep 16 '13 at 10:34

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