There was another meta discussion about this question recently.

The question had been closed as unconstructive, but it looked okay to me, so I cast a reopen vote. But then I thought, "this is a pretty basic question, I bet it's been asked already" and quickly found a near-perfect duplicate, almost down to the letter of the original question.

Supposing I had found the duplicate before casting my reopen vote, what is the proper course of action here? The possible course seems to be one of these:

  1. Add a comment pointing to the dupe and do nothing else; or
  2. Cast a re-open vote and then try to check back later and if it's been re-opened, cast a close-as-dupe vote; or
  3. Flag a moderator saying the question should be closed as duplicate, not unconstructive.

Following #1 we do lose a signpost to the original if this question is later deleted. Following #2 requires some extra attention and is not fool-proof. Following #3 adds work for a moderator that may not be worth it.

  • If the question is terrible enough to be closed as not constructive, then it probably wouldn't be a very good signpost as a duplicate. – animuson May 12 '13 at 3:04
  • There are millions of dupes still open, as they are good enough to exist. – Anoop Vaidya May 12 '13 at 3:05
  • 3
    @animuson, but my point here is that I disagree with that close reason. I don't think the question is terrible, or even bad, just basic. It's not great, and could be improved, but I think it's an okay question. – Ben Lee May 12 '13 at 3:05
  • @animuson I don't know about that. Often much of the value in signposts is exclusively in containing search keywords that the target post does not. – Jeremy May 12 '13 at 3:06
  • @BenLee: But when you apply it to the "general case" - that statement is true. Non-constructive duplicates would likely be deleted whether they're closed as not constructive or duplicate. This is a unique case that doesn't really follow the norms. – animuson May 12 '13 at 3:06
  • @BenLee For what it's worth, I've successfully used option 3 several times (mostly for having the dupe target correctly reassigned, but occasionally to have the close reason changed). – user200500 May 12 '13 at 3:07
  • @animuson, are duplicates really slated to be eventually deleted? I thought the whole point was to leave them undeleted (but closed) and funnel visitors to the original, no? – Ben Lee May 12 '13 at 3:08
  • @BenLee: Some are. I often vote to delete duplicates that are just plain terrible and don't serve as good signposts. Just because it's closed as a duplicate doesn't mean it's a good signpost and shouldn't be deleted. I think people are starting to take on the mindset that "marked as duplicate" is some sort of safe haven that keeps questions around. If they're really bad, they should still be deleted. – animuson May 12 '13 at 3:08
  • @animuson In all cases where a user wants the close reason changed, they disagree with the original close reason, so the problem of a question being a useless signpost (due to being non constructive) isn't applicable here. – user200500 May 12 '13 at 3:08
  • 1
    @animuson, I'm not arguing against your point that a bad closed-as-dupe should be deleted. I agree with you. But that's orthogonal to my question. For instance, say this question had no dupe -- I would have just cast a re-open vote and been done with it. – Ben Lee May 12 '13 at 3:29

I covered this in my answer here and will shortly vote to close this as dupe. In short:

Duplicates are a closer cousin to valid questions that just happen to be answered by link than they are to the other types of closed questions. I would suggest, if you think it's a legitimate question in its own right - viz. ask "if it weren't a duplicate, would it be a good question?" - vote to open, then vote to close as duplicate. This is because for the OP and future visitors, we want this question to be a lead to finding a correct answer. Think of closing as duplicate as a form of answering, not a form of closing. Then vote to close as duplicate, which is more like voting to reopen then answering than it is like voting to reopen and closing.

  • What are your thoughts on the third option? (which is just a faster way of accomplishing the same thing) – user200500 May 12 '13 at 5:10
  • @Asad probably reasonable. Be clear and make sure the mod doesn't need domain expertise. Link to this question so policy is clarified and cited on meta. If your flags on this are rejected 2-3 times then don't do it. – djechlin May 12 '13 at 13:06

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .