In reference to Policy inheritance and inaccessible protected members, there is another question that has the perfect answer (accessing a protected member of a base class in another subclass).

I am tempted to simply post an answer that provides the link, rather than either copying-and-pasting the relevant question/answer, or attempting to rewrite it.

I do not believe the question should be closed as a duplicate, because the questions themselves come from different angles.

Is it appropriate in this scenario to give an answer that is simply a link to another answer?


Apparently, https://meta.stackexchange.com/a/120699/201900 answers my question, so perhaps my question is a duplicate.


2 Answers 2


In a scenario where the questions aren't the same, but the new (potentially duplicate) question is solidly answered by the original question (and/or its answers), it would be appropriate to close as a duplicate.

The answer already exists; there is no reason to copy it over. The duplicate question now serves as an additional signpost to the answer, so there are now (at least) two ways to word the question which will lead to the same set of answers (increasing the likelihood that any new searches, via search engines or on the site itself, will find at least one of the questions).

  • 5
    I disagree, if the questions are completely different they should not be closed as a duplicate. I even have an answer posted here on the subject of how to post duplicate answers to non-duplicate questions. To summarize, post an answer containing the link along with a copy of the relevant parts of answer in a blockquote, and try to add some text of your own explaining how the answer applies to the specific question. Or if you want to be lazy, just leave a comment pointing to the answer.
    – Rachel
    Mar 29, 2013 at 14:15
  • 2
    @Rachel: The meaning of "duplicate" has changed with the latest close update. "Duplicate" now means "Has an answer here". So this answer is correct. Mar 29, 2013 at 21:37
  • And then if someone have another answer, one that fits closed question but not the "original", he should go home and don't share, right Jim?
    – Mołot
    Sep 19, 2013 at 12:43
  • @Mołot in cases like that, one always has an option to post a modified, more specific, version of the question that would integrate or wipe out "duplicate answer" and instantly self-answer it with their "perfect answer" (if it is perfect indeed, it would be worth that extra effort wouldn't it)
    – gnat
    Sep 19, 2013 at 12:47
  • @gnat the point of this question was that the "duplicate" wasn't exact dupilcate in the first place. The fact that the same solution happened to work in both cases does not mean all solutions to one must work for the other or that one or other is not specific enough. Like in Drupal, often two data access questions can be solved with similar use of Views, but one can be also solved with Services and other does not. Marking them duplicates due to the fact that at some point both was answered by Views guy, who was there first 'cause Services guy was on vacation, is simply wrong.
    – Mołot
    Sep 19, 2013 at 12:52
  • 1
    so what? For the reference, the idea that duplication is expected to be perfect has been officially dismissed since Changes to “close as duplicate” (part deux): ...No argument about how exact an "exact duplicate" needs to be... And, no matter how you twist it, when one has a perfect answer for any (assumed to be good) question, there's nothing that can stop them from using instant-self-answer feature to share their knowledge
    – gnat
    Sep 19, 2013 at 13:01
  • @Mołot ...here is an example of what I am talking about: this has been posted as self-answer, substantially upvoted and later merged into appropriate question. Worth noting that in this case, the answer was very well worth it; if one would try similar trick just to promote their useless opinion, outcome could be different
    – gnat
    Sep 19, 2013 at 13:24
  • @gnat I agree there are specific cases when it works. If question is the same, just worded differently, OK. But if question is quite different (not only "not exactly identical"), they shouldn't be merged just due the fact that there is one common answer. One example does not mean something is generally OK. I've seen a blue cab, it does not mean all cabs are blue, right? So your specific pointers shows that closing might sometimes be OK, and nothing more. And with sometimes OK I agree!
    – Mołot
    Sep 19, 2013 at 13:27
  • @Mołot merging questions is not required with new dupe closure approach; in my example it has been used only because both question and its self-answer matched very well into another question
    – gnat
    Sep 19, 2013 at 13:29

It's never appropriate to post an answer containing just a link.

Users arrive at SE sites to get answers, not links going to somewhere else that might contain an answer. In addition, links can often go bad (for reasons such as the linked post getting deleted) which leaves the answer as useless.

If you want to answer a question with the content of another answer posted to a non-duplicate question, then I'd suggest posting an answer that contains:

  • The relevant parts of the other answer in block quotes
  • A link to the original source so it can be correctly attributed to the person who originally wrote the answer
  • Additional text of your own explaining how the quoted content applies to the specific question if possible

If you want an example, check out a recent answer of mine about how to post a duplicate answer to a non-duplicate question.

And of course if you just want to be lazy, you can just leave a comment containing the link to the answer instead of posting your own answer :)

In regards to whether you should close non-duplicate questions as duplicates just because they have the same answer, no you should not.

To quote one of the SE Employees when I asked him about the subject:

If there are two ways to ask the same question, we've usually said it's better to leave it open since people might find it either way. – David Fullerton♦

I agree with this. We should not be closing non-duplicate questions as duplicate just because the answer addresses both questions.

  • 1
    If it's two ways to ask the same question, it shouldn't be left open. It should be closed as a duplicate. People can still find it either way, but it will be clear that "these are the same question; the answers are over here". Leaving them both open will cause some answers to be on one question and some on the other, and most people won't realize there are two questions.
    – yoozer8
    Mar 29, 2013 at 15:49
  • @Jim Yes, but I am referring specifically to two separate questions that share the same answer. The same question asked two different ways is a duplicate, but two different questions that share the same answer is not :)
    – Rachel
    Mar 29, 2013 at 17:05
  • Since duplicate closing has recently changed, the term "duplicate" is now less accurate. The closure is less about the questions being the same than it is about the answer already existing. The text inserted into such closed questions reads "This question already has an answer here: [Link] N answers"
    – yoozer8
    Mar 29, 2013 at 17:09
  • @Jim If you click the link for my quote from David Fullerton, you'll see that its posted on his question announcing the changes to the duplicate system. I would assume he's an authoritative source on the subject since he is part of the SE team that made the change and announced it. If he says they think two separate questions that share an answer are usually better left open, I'll believe him. If other users are questioning that, then perhaps we should make a separate meta post on the subject and get an official response posted.
    – Rachel
    Mar 29, 2013 at 18:30
  • @Jim No, this question asks "Is it appropriate to answer with just a link?". I was thinking about a question specifically asking if non-duplicate questions that share the same answer should be closed as duplicates with the new close-as-duplicate requirements.
    – Rachel
    Mar 29, 2013 at 18:36

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