I'm happy with the progress being made on StackExchange with how Close is handled. I'd like to propose another small tweak, with this question as concrete example:


When I came across this question for review, it had 4 Off-Topic votes. I thought it was on-topic but answered, here:

Javascript/canvas renderer for CAD/AutoCAD files

By an open question with 4 upvotes. I voted it as a Dupe... and that closed the question as Off-Topic. We now have a Closed question that the other 4 reviewers may have agreed has a good answer already in the proposed duplicate, but the duplicate is buried in the comments on the question, rather than highlighted at the top as it would be in a typical Duplicate, Closed case.

So, perhaps one of 2 things should have happened here in the system:

A) The Duplicate vote should have taken precedent over the other votes - if there's already an answer in the system, even if this question was heading towards off-topic, poorly written, etc, it seems better to give the asker an answer than to just shut it down.


B) The Duplicate vote could notify previous reviewers of the proposed dupe, for their consideration. If they agree that Duplicate is the better Close vote now that they've been made aware of the other question, they'd have an opportunity to change their vote to Dupe. Perhaps this would look like an Agree/Disagree button, perhaps it would just be the existing review interface presented again.

A is simpler to implement and asks less of reviewers' time. B gets more consideration and is likely closer to the existing process.

Obviously I'm also open to other suggestions on process. I just think this minor tweak could better turn questions like this into helpful leads for others searching and landing on them.

Edit As others have commented here, consider other close types as well, like Too Broad, Unclear, etc - if there's 4 votes for Unclear and 1 reviewer points to a valid, answered Dupe, isn't it better to point the asker and future visitors to an answer than just closing?

  • 3
    Just flag and ask a moderator to change it to a duplicate. I don't think this situation is that common. Jul 18, 2013 at 18:04
  • Without evidence, we'll have to agree to disagree on the frequency of the scenario. Jul 18, 2013 at 18:06
  • It's spelled "supersede". Jul 18, 2013 at 18:08
  • Very true. I'm just guessing of course. There are probably plenty of questions that are closed as OT/NC/TL (or the modern day equivalents) that did receive at least 1 duplicate. But how many of them deserved to be duplicates and not off topic. And frankly I think the duplicate you link might need to be closed. It's really just asking for a tool. Jul 18, 2013 at 18:13
  • 1
    @KeithThompson: Hmm... merriam-webster.com/dictionary/supercede
    – user102937
    Jul 18, 2013 at 18:14
  • 2
    @RobertHarvey: From your link: "Supercede has occurred as a spelling variant of supersede since the 17th century, and it is common in current published writing. It continues, however, to be widely regarded as an error." Jul 18, 2013 at 18:18
  • @KeithThompson: Right, I read it too. It says that it has been in common use for at least the last 300 years, including published writing. I'm inclined to let it slide. Not at all the same thing as txtspk.
    – user102937
    Jul 18, 2013 at 18:19
  • 1
    @RobertHarvey: I wasn't suggesting a moderator should do something about it, just that the OP might want to edit it. (I probably would have fixed it myself if I were able to.) Jul 18, 2013 at 18:24
  • 1
    It may not be obvious from this question but this could be applied to reasons other than OT. We all know people are inclined to sheep vote on an easy reason rather than finding dupe.
    – Jack
    Jul 18, 2013 at 19:23
  • I don't think 'sheep voting' is necessarily the issue here. There are 5 close voters, many of which may have came from the tag itself (in particular if it is truly a dup). We should trust the voters.
    – Joe
    Jul 18, 2013 at 19:38
  • @Joe Not sure what you mean by "came from the tag itself"; none of the voters are top users in that tag afaict? And perhaps this linked question isn't the best example.
    – Jack
    Jul 18, 2013 at 20:13
  • I am speaking generally, not in your specific case. Except for First Posts, most of the time a close vote is initiated by a tag reader; not necessarily a top reader, but at least someone who reads the tag, and hopefully has (2000 rep's worth of) familiarity with that tag's on/off topic treatments, and also some familiarity with other questions in that tag. I see non-tag readers just voting with the herd and not finding a duplicate, but a java programmer will probably find a duplicate when there is one (as he/she will be able to search easily for it).
    – Joe
    Jul 18, 2013 at 20:15
  • 1
    when I have a choice, I prefer dupe to other kinds of closure
    – gnat
    Jul 18, 2013 at 23:39
  • @Joe So are you agreeing we should go with B, or saying it doesn't make sense to notify other Reviewers of the Dupe, because there's no way they could've missed a Dupe themselves? The latter seems an obviously flawed assumption. Jul 18, 2013 at 23:56
  • No, I'm saying none. I don't think it's necessary or logical to notify other reviewers. Unless the duplicate is the 4th or 5th vote, plenty of other voters will have a chance to see the duplicate. You're as likely to get sheep voting for duplicate as for off topic, as far as I'm concerned, and both are bad. And I don't think this happens often enough or is important enough to justify bothering the reviewers again, who have spent some of their valuable time already.
    – Joe
    Jul 19, 2013 at 17:42

1 Answer 1


I don't think Duplicate should supersede or supercede (your choice!) other close reasons. If a question has a duplicate, but is also off-topic like this particular question appears to be, or has some other reason to be closed (too broad, opinion based, etc.) it should be closed as off topic (or whatever). Just because a previously answered question was (incorrectly, or perhaps appropriately-then-not-now) left open doesn't mean an off-topic question should be left open now.

It's more useful as feedback to the original poster to let them know that they didn't construct a very good question than to leave a redirect to another not very good question.

  • 3
    IMO this should be seen in a wider context than just OT vs dupe.
    – Jack
    Jul 18, 2013 at 19:24
  • 1
    I think it is the same argument whether OT or (other reason question is inappropriate).
    – Joe
    Jul 18, 2013 at 19:37
  • Let's consider the case where someone has moved to close just because the question is poorly formed. They may have chosen one of many choices, including Unclear or Too Broad, but another reviewer might have figured out wtf this person was asking, found the answer, and marked it as a dupe. Wouldn't it be better for the person asking to have an answer - and for others landing on the question to have one as well - than for it to simply be closed as Unclear/Too Broad? In general it seems pointing towards an answer, if there is one, is always better than the alternatives. Jul 18, 2013 at 23:50
  • @ChrisMoschini If one and one, sure. If four people answer 'poorly formed' and one person answers 'duplicate', I don't see why you're assuming the one duplicate was necessarily better than the others. It's just as likely - I'd argue more likely - that the one person answering duplicate misunderstood the question. You're assuming the duplicate was a result of better research, which will not always be the case.
    – Joe
    Jul 19, 2013 at 17:40
  • @Joe In that case it seems best to notify those other users of the dupe and give them the option (proposal B). If it's better because they were just blowing through closes (as many do), and this is a better option, they can pick it, if not they can stick with what they originally voted. Jul 19, 2013 at 19:27
  • @ChrisMoschini Why do you insist on notifying the other reviewers? We don't do this anywhere else that I'm aware of, and it would really irritate me if we did. If it were something that were very common and vitally important, sure; but it's very uncommon, and not very important. Retaining duplicates is only useful for helping google searchers who find one or the other based on different search criteria; since the duplicate vote auto-comments, the original poster is able to find out anyway (through their own notification).
    – Joe
    Jul 19, 2013 at 19:29
  • @Joe If it isn't common, you will almost never be annoyed by this improvement. If it is common, that makes it all the more important. The point is to surface a Dupe other reviewers may not have found - it's easy to imagine someone voting to close without having done an exhaustive search for Dupes, or having not understood the question as fully as the reviewer who found the Dupe. Jul 19, 2013 at 19:34
  • I understand what you're saying, Chris, but I just think you're wrong. This is neither important nor a good idea.
    – Joe
    Jul 19, 2013 at 19:38

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