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The perfectly written FAQ How should duplicate questions be handled? doesn't describe the case if you have 2 old questions, which one should be considered as original and which as duplicate.

I previously expected that it should be a simple formal approach - older question is an original and newer question is a duplicate.

However, there is another approach that more  concerned about the quality of content.

From answer to When is a duplicate question not a duplicate?

duplicating a dead/badly asked question ...

In this case, the original question should be the one closed for duplicate, and point to this new one. Because we can't let someone "ruin" a problem and prevent others, more motivated, to find a solution.

Another clarification from  Anna Lear♦ May 5 at 6:04

The date on the question matters far less than the answers.

However question Data Explorer needs the ability to comment on queries was closed as duplicate even it has a reasonable answer from Sam Saffron, but the original question Notify/contact SEDE user of fix to query  doesn't have any answers, only comments.  

Does Stack Exchange has a recommended policy how to choose which of 2 similar questions should be closed as duplicate?

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As it is now, you cannot anymore close a question as duplicate of a question without up-voted or accepted answers. Moderators don't have that limitation, but normal users would get a message error when doing it.
This means that nowadays you could not close Data Explorer needs the ability to comment on queries as duplicate of Notify/contact SEDE user of fix to query; it should have been the latter to be closed as duplicate of the former.

When one of the questions has up-voted answers or an accepted answer, the other question should be closed as duplicate.
If both the questions have up-voted or accepted answers, which one to close as duplicate doesn't probably matter; I would rather choose the most recent one, with the assumption that the most recent one describes a situation that more actual. For example, between a question asked when the latter Drupal version was Drupal 5, and a question asked when Drupal 7 is the latest version (with Drupal 8 being developed), I would rather close the former. You could also consider the score of the most up-voted question, and close as duplicate the question without accepted answers, and with the most up-voted answer that has a lower score than the equivalent answer for the other question.
If then a question doesn't have answers, and the other one doesn't have up-voted or accepted questions, you could consider voting the answer, and vote to close the question without answers. Alternatively, you could write an answer for the question without answers, and wait your answer gets up-voted. At that point, you could close the other one as duplicate.

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  • I'm not sure the "must have an answer" restriction is present on meta, only on the main sites. – Anthony Grist Jun 10 '13 at 9:22
  • Maybe I misunderstood it, but I got it as asking about closing questions on Stack Exchange sites, since the question is, "Does Stack Exchange has a recommended policy how to choose which of 2 similar questions should be closed as duplicate?" The fact the example questions have been asked on this very site is just a coincidence. – kiamlaluno Jun 10 '13 at 9:27
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    It's a general question, but I think it's worth mentioning the fact that meta sites work differently to the main ones and don't necessarily have the same policies or restrictions. Especially considering it was the closing practices on meta, not the main site, that prompted this question. – Anthony Grist Jun 10 '13 at 9:33
  • @kiamlaluno, why you gave an answer to my question instead of just providing a link to your previous answer to very similar( is my question a duplicate?) question meta.stackexchange.com/a/147650/163139 – Michael Freidgeim Jun 14 '13 at 22:41
  • @MichaelFreidgeim That is an old question; plus, you are quoting what said from developers / Community Coordinators, and that makes your question quite different. Then, I didn't remember that other question to point you to it. (Since the question has not been closed as duplicate, I take there are other users that don't think it's a duplicate.) – kiamlaluno Jun 15 '13 at 8:16
  • @kiamlaluno, sorry, both of your answers are using the same Drupal examples, so I decided, that the new answer was copied from the old. – Michael Freidgeim Jun 15 '13 at 8:24

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