I came across a question that was "not a real question" by definition. I want to know if there is a policy on Stack Overflow that states we should be closing questions as duplicates of a question that contains no more information than the question being closed.

To me, duplicates were always a way, to point the user to desired information without producing redundancy. Is this not the case?

  • 1
    The NARQ question has answers that answer the question. Would you have another question where that's not the case? – Mat May 11 '13 at 15:10
  • It's a closed question. The fact that it has answers is irrelevant. Do you think that question will ever be opened again? I think not, so it stays in a permanent state of closure, what's the sense of keeping a repository of knowledge like that :S – phwd May 11 '13 at 15:16
  • sigh, how can this question be a duplicate of an announcement by a Stack Exchange employee... maybe it might contain context about how duplicates work but in no way until someone pulls out a cited quote from it answers why to close a question as a duplicate of a question that will most likely never be opened again. – phwd May 11 '13 at 15:52
  • @phwd: it was re-open, so the point is moot. The link gnat pointed out (agreed it's not a dup) does say that we can't close as dup of unanswered questions anymore (with the exception of dups by the same user I think). (And no, I really don't think the fact that that dup had answers is irrelevant at all.) – Mat May 11 '13 at 16:22

Sometimes, yeah.

The most common scenario would be two poorly-asked questions by the same author. Yes, these could be closed individually as NARQ - but closing the second as a duplicate of the first emphasizes the need to fix the question rather than just reposting it.

Another (albeit somewhat less common) scenario involves a question that's simply too broad - "how do I learn to program" and its ilk. Again, they could be individually closed as NARQ, but in this case dup-closing can reduce the need to explain why asking for all of the world's knowledge in one question is a bad idea EVERY. SINGLE. TIME...

The final scenario - which I think you've hit on here - involves a question that... Probably is a real question. Maybe it was originally so poorly-written that some folks didn't realize this, but the fact is it's on-topic, specific, and the answers reflect this - so closing other questions as duplicates is appropriate, so long as the original (or some original) gets re-opened. These scenarios occasionally warrant dup-closing in the opposite direction (when the more recent question is better-written) and merging.


To me, duplicates were always a way, to point the user to desired information without producing redundancy. Is this not the case?

That's still the case. In this example, I see that being upheld - the question that's been duplicated by the NARQ question has an answer that would address the original problem.

It's a closed question. The fact that it has answers is irrelevant.

No, that's not quite right. Check Optimizing for Pearls, Not Sand - the emphasis here is more on the answer than the question.

  • The original NARQ is now reopened by a mod(employee). So that reopen just proves that there was a contradiction. Your answer reinforces that. If we optimize for pearls then the original question should by nature be re-opened and or fixed to prevent NARQ qualities, if it's not we are putting our pearls on garbage for display. The point some are missing here is that users were pointing to a question that was closed and that's just wrong. – phwd May 11 '13 at 16:22

There's a few cases here:

  1. You asked a quality question and the original is a NARQ. In this case, they are either not duplicates, because a quality question can't be the same question as a poor one, or the original was in fact a quality question and should be reopened. In this case I feel the original question was a good question so I voted to reopen.
  2. You asked a poor question and the original is a NARQ. In that case I think it's better to close as duplicate so we only have one question to maintain but I personally do not feel strongly (I don't think it really has much effect on the quality of our site either way).
  • 1. makes no sense. The question is closed, that's just abuse. 2. makes no sense, as I said in the question, the original question contains no more content that the duplicate. The correct reaction, if any should have been "What are you even talking about -> let me close this as Not a real question" – phwd May 11 '13 at 15:54
  • @phwd the question states, "Is there anyone who knows how to get a friends list of email address using Facebook PHP SDK?" Poorly worded, but I think the OP is trying to figure out how to get a friend's list of email addresses using Facebook's PHP SDK. I was able to conclude this with little deduction. There was only one thing the OP could be asking, so it was unambiguous. I had little difficulty figuring out what this, so it's not vague. Is it complete and is covering how to do exactly one thing, hence not overly broad. It was answered with 2 upvotes. What NARQ criterion am I missing? – djechlin May 11 '13 at 16:05
  • I think you are talking about the original post, while I am talking about the dupe. – phwd May 11 '13 at 16:09
  • @phwd refactored my answer, hopefully this is clearer. – djechlin May 11 '13 at 16:14

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