I got this question in review. First sentence is:

I know there is a same question, but no answers.

And indeed the two questions are virtually identical. I started to flag as duplicate - but the original question had no answer at the time, so it wouldn't be correct and apparently not even possible. (I didn't go so far as to try to submit the flag).

What is the proper action here? How do we want such a question to be handled? Should both (or more) questions stay open indefinitely until either is answered and somebody gets the good idea to do the duplicate linking?

As the new question is essentially a bump to the front page (perhaps with re-tagging), especially in the case where the OP knows that a previous question exist, perhaps something should be done to enable bumping re-emphasizing without writing the new question.

As I wrote this, the new question actually got an answer. So the old one should now be closed as a duplicate of the new - but my question remains for the case where all known/found duplicate questions have no answer?

Ironically, just before asking this, the "Questions that may already have your answer" gave me this... (Although the suggestion has no answer). So it has been asked before - the comment there even suggest the ability to re-emphasize.

  • It is kind of contrary to how we used to think of duplicates, but I believe this is the intent of the feature to prevent closing dups of unanswered questions. – psubsee2003 Oct 16 '13 at 9:07
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    On Drupal Answers flagging it for diamond moderators seems the way to go. If questions are asked in different way, it's OK to keep both open until one gets answered. If it's exactly the same use case, and OP knows it, moderator's attention may be needed. Mods can close as a duplicate without "answered" limit. – Mołot Oct 16 '13 at 9:13
  • @Mołot Maybe that goes for SO as well. It is not like it is a very frequent occurence so it probably wouldn't be flooding that queue. If this question gets closed as a dupe, I'll write it as an answer on the earlier. ;) – user213634 Oct 16 '13 at 9:20
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    You can also point OP here (and then possibly do what Mołot suggested, or just a regular duplicate close vote / flag if able). – Bernhard Barker Oct 16 '13 at 10:50

First - I'll answer generally, apart from the example.

The best thing to do is take a look at both questions and see if you can find any obvious reason why neither received answers. This might require a bit of domain knowledge, but did either author leave out some critical bit of information, not format their code properly or something else? Can you fix it, or maybe leave a comment letting them know how the question could be clearer?

Others might require some very rare and specific knowledge, and just haven't gotten enough visibility. You can flag one for moderator attention, point to the other and let them have a look.

In this specific case, the earlier version of the question was much more articulate, so I closed the latest one as a duplicate of it, and then merged them. When you see something similar come up again, just involve a moderator - they can do the same thing.

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  • Thanks for the answer. Responding to the first point, I don't have domain knowledge, but there was a subtle difference in the two questions. The original specifically stated that he didn't want to use Bounds, which make the merged answer a little bit awkward. But my takeaway is that in cases like this I should flag for mod intervention. – user213634 Oct 16 '13 at 11:38
  • Also, fixing either (or both the questions) doesn't resolve the fact that both still exist. So I guess that even if I did fix either, I would still flag one for attention and point to the other with an explanation. – user213634 Oct 16 '13 at 11:43
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    @AndersUP The merge was a little bit awkward, but the questions are essentially the same. Another answer that better fits the confines of the original might still be possible, but anyone with the same issue at least now has something that might work for them. Also, the constraints on the first might be why it went unanswered for so long, so I had to consider that as well. – Tim Post Oct 16 '13 at 11:56

In my opinion if the duplicate is accidental and the asker does not know about the older one, or if the user states "My problem seems to be similar to [link]" and neither have answers, they should be left alone. They are probably worded differently. That's a good thing. It increases the chance of catching the eye of someone who can answer. So both should be left alone until one of them is answered.

If the question is a deliberate duplicate, or if they look almost identical, then it's a totally differrent story. Chances are that either the asker wants to attract attention without investing in the usual tools (edits due to research and bounties), or two people from one team asked without coordinating with each other. This kind of unanswered duplicates is bad for the community as it increases noise without providing any added value to the original questions. Flagging for moderator attention with a custom reason seems the way to go. As I have seen on Drupal Answers, comments about this behaviour from normal users tends to cause arguments and flame wars, and comments from moderators lead to polite reply or discussion in meta. Last but not least, a moderator can close as a duplicate even if the original has no answers yet.

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    Closing a question as duplicate does not delete it, precisely because it makes the original question easier to find. So I would still vote to close as a duplicate. – S.L. Barth - Reinstate Monica Oct 16 '13 at 11:19
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    @S.L.Barth: Unfortunately, normal mortals can't vote to close as duplicate if the target has no upvoted answers. – ale Oct 16 '13 at 13:25

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