For example, a question that gets closed as a duplicate of a question that is off-topic is also off-topic. It should either be migrated to an appropriate site, if an appropriate site exists and there are no other problems with the question, or closed as off-topic. Likewise, a question closed as a duplicate of a question that is too broad is also too broad - if it was more specific, then it wouldn't be a duplicate and shouldn't be closed.

I think that following links from closed question to closed question is a poor user experience, especially for new users or people browsing in from search engines trying to get answers. The duplicate feature should be used to point people toward good questions with good answers, not to link 2+ unwanted questions together.

Additionally, it might be a good idea to have tools to check in-site links. For example, if links to other questions are posted in comments or answers, they show up in the "Linked" part of the sidebar. Finding questions that have been linked to that are closed may also be helpful. The links can be cleaned up so that users aren't brought to questions that aren't appropriate for the site, again helpful for new users and people browsing in.

  • this would be really helpful to prevent ... but imo there is nothing wrong in having dup because dup are also helpful if they shows research Jun 30, 2013 at 12:41
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    @NullPoiиteя Duplicates of good questions with good answers are good - they help point people to the right answer. Duplicates of bad and closed questions lead to a frustrating user experience since people following the trail may be lead to poor questions with unhelpful answers. Jun 30, 2013 at 12:43
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    @NullPoiиteя This has nothing to do with duplicates of duplicates. In that case, the second duplicate should point to the best question, not the one that was closed. This has to do with duplicates of off topic, not constructive, too broad, or unclear questions. Jun 30, 2013 at 12:46
  • Are you asking that VTC: duplicate of an OT question should automatically be converted to a VTC: OT or that the vote should not be allowed to be added at all?
    – Flexo
    Jun 30, 2013 at 12:50
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    One thing I see quite frequently is user posts a bad question. It gets closed. They ask another question essentially the same rather than editing the original. I always VTC those as dupes of the original on holded question. Jun 30, 2013 at 12:52
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    Some closed questions are closed because they are no longer on-topic but still contain a wealth of information. Not being allowed to close as a duplicate of those seems unfortunate because it's an excellent opportunity to achieve the two points you make. Tell the user that such questions are no longer appropriate, but still point to excellent information.
    – Bart
    Jun 30, 2013 at 13:05
  • @Martin notes one good reason to vote as a dupe for a closed question, in my opinion. Also; just because something might be closed does not mean it won't have a good, useful answer. But I do agree that if a post should be on another site (in its current state, ie. if it is of high enough quality), it should be migrated. Jun 30, 2013 at 13:08

2 Answers 2


I think both sides of the argument have merits.

Closing as dup of some closed question is not a good UX if they link to poor quality questions because it gives some merit to both questions and also gives the user some false hope that they might get a good answer. But at the same time, there are good questions that are still closed as off topic (mostly older, historically significant questions), that you do want to link new questions too. You also have to take questions that are closed and then reposted by the same poster. You need to be able to close the 2nd question as a duplicate of the previously closed question as a pointer to the OP that he/she should be fixing their old content and not reasking.

There is also a problem of a question that is closed as a duplicate of an open question and then that open question is closed at a later date. How would you handle that situation? Do you want to go back and retroactively change the duplicates to closed? I have no idea if duplicates are weighted differently than closed question in the question ban algorithm, but if they are, you could unintentionally trigger a ban on someone for something they did a while ago.

Because of the issues, I don't see an automatic way of policing this idea but we could consider doing something manually through a new review queue and/or a new privilege for high rep users (maybe 10K or 20K or a new threshold like 15K)

The idea would be:

  1. If a question is closed as a duplicate of a closed question, then the questions are added to the queue for review. The reviewers could then decide if the new question is worthy of staying closed as a duplicate, or if it should be changed to a more appropriate close reason.

  2. If a older question with existing duplicates is closed, any question that is closed of a duplicate of the now closed question could then be added to the queue and reviewers would decide what to do with the duplicates (stay as a duplicate or get changed to closed for a more appropriate reason).


Duplicate closes are largely arbitrary. They are most common for questions that have other faults, like a bad title.

IMHO a duplicate vote should not be a close vote. It should instead add the accepted answer of the proposed original to the supposed duplicate. Then the regular voting process can decide if it is indeed a duplicate.

This has to added advantage of adding multiple search entry points to good answers.

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    We have methods to deal with bad titles and the like (other close reasons, editing, etc). Dupe-close votes are for questions that have already been asked and answered. Copy-pasting the accepted answers onto duplicate questions just adds to the noise. Jun 30, 2013 at 14:26
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    Don't forget also that an accepted answer is not necessarily the best answer.
    – Herbert
    Jun 30, 2013 at 14:46
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    I agree in practice that duplicate closes are not applied consistently. Probably the vast majority of new questions asked on the site have already been answered elsewhere and could legitimately be closed as duplicates. This proposal though wouldn't really work except if you have a very narrow definition of duplicate. The accepted answer in the duplicate question could well refer to specific table or variable names in the original question, or reference other answers, and this would be extremely confusing out of context. Jun 30, 2013 at 15:27

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