I've only recently earned the "vote to close" privilege. I am faced with the decision of whether to close a question as a duplicate. I see that the answer to the original question exactly applies to this new question. This is indicated by someone in one of the comments. But the other question is obviously a different one. It is a different piece of code with a different situation. Only the principle of answer is the same.

Now, I'm confused.

If the OP agrees that his problem is somehow resolved based on reading the original question, there is no more problem and this question can be closed. In this case, the OP hasn't given any clue, so it is not clear if this should be left open and expect that somebody to explicitly write an answer to this question.

What is the general practice? Just close the question assuming the OP has got enough hints even though there is no answer? Or keep the question based on the argument that the situation in the question is different?

  • The I'm a new moderator is confusing me. I don't think stackoverflow organized any elections and I don't see 10k rep? – Walker Dec 24 '13 at 16:56
  • @ChristmasUnicorn Hypothetical I think – ʞunɥdɐpɐɥd Dec 24 '13 at 16:56
  • @ChristmasUnicorn I assume he just means the has access to closing questions as he just passed 3k rep. Likely a terminology error. He's not a mod on any site, unless it's on another account, which I doubt. – Servy Dec 24 '13 at 16:58
  • @Servy Ok. Thanks – Walker Dec 24 '13 at 16:59
  • @ChristmasUnicorn : Then this is a terminology error – PermanentGuest Dec 24 '13 at 16:59

Closing as duplicates is closing for duplicates questions... not answers

But the new question is obviously a different one. It is a different piece of code, different situation. Only the principle of answer is same.

If the question is totally different but is related to another one simply because of an answer in it, it is not a duplicate at all.

What if two totally different questions (A and B) have similar resolution steps? The user with the problem B looks for question B but cannot because it was closed as a duplicate of A although it is not related at all (except for the answers). Then all users with problem B won't find the answer they are looking for because they would need to look for A which isn't related to their current problem.

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    I concur. Answers should not be used to evaluate question duplication. – user102937 Dec 24 '13 at 17:00
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    "Closing as duplicates is closing for duplicates questions." => This helps. They are not the same questions. – PermanentGuest Dec 24 '13 at 17:02
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    @PermanentGuest What I meant by that is the only criteria is questions. Not Answers. Not the same question ? Not a duplicate. – ʞunɥdɐpɐɥd Dec 24 '13 at 17:04
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    @insertcleverxmasname : Yes, that was what I understood. No confusion. – PermanentGuest Dec 24 '13 at 17:05
  • To your last paragraph, you're assuming the duplicate question would be deleted. It wouldn't be. They'd find the closed question, see it's a duplicate, go to the duplicate target, and get their answer. Problem solved. – Servy Dec 24 '13 at 17:06
  • @Servy Logged off users trying to gather information from the site won't be able to find it as it will automatically point to the question A. But I agree in advance that yes, it is very localized. – ʞunɥdɐpɐɥd Dec 24 '13 at 17:07
  • @insertcleverxmasname Which has the answer to their question... – Servy Dec 24 '13 at 17:08
  • @Servy It does if they don't first say.. this post is totally unrelated to what I was looking for... and leave. Don't forget this example is in a case where the two questions aren't related at all. – ʞunɥdɐpɐɥd Dec 24 '13 at 17:09
  • @insertcleverxmasname But they're not completely unrelated. They are two different code snippets that have the exact same problem. The differences in the question aren't germane to the answer. – Servy Dec 24 '13 at 17:11
  • In this case, where the only differences are the code snippets, it does make sense yes. – ʞunɥdɐpɐɥd Dec 24 '13 at 17:13

If the questions are generally similar, and the differences between the questions are not particularly germane to the answer, then you can close the two posts as duplicates. Duplicates don't need to be exact duplicates in which there are no differences between the two questions at all.

If you feel that the answer posted to the other question would be a suitable answer if posted to this question, then it's a very strong indication that the questions are duplicates. While technically this won't always be the case, if the questions are not duplicates, but are only related to each other, then an answer would almost certainly need to be tailored to the question at hand for it to be appropriate. If you think such tailoring would need to be fairly noticeable, then it's a sign that the questions probably aren't duplicates.

  • What my thinking was 'could the OP have searched with his vague idea of the problem in stackoverflow and would have stumbled upon the exact same old question and could have applied the answer to his situation?'. If the answer is yes, then this is a duplicate one. In the current situation, I think the user could never have achieved that since he didn't have any clue what exactly he should search for. If you see the two problems, it would be clear to you. – PermanentGuest Dec 24 '13 at 17:11
  • @PermanentGuest If the OP could have found the duplicate question on their own then, by and large, they shouldn't have asked the question in the first place; they should have just found the duplicate question. The fact that they asked the question at all means that they couldn't find any duplicates, and if they exist, it means the question is phrased differently enough that it's not apparent at first glance that they are the same question. It doesn't change the fact that underneath it all the problem is still the same. We don't want dozens of different phrasings of the same common problem. – Servy Dec 24 '13 at 17:14
  • ok. My point was, if he found some answer and still if he asked the question and then it deserves to be closed. Otherwise it deserves an answer. (Assuming that having an 'answer' is the most natural growth of a question and it is 'unethical' to 'kill' a question prematurely). Anyway, it looks like this is very open. I saw that 3 chose to agree to close vote and 3 to disagree, indicating that is a 50:50 case. Thanks for your thoughts. – PermanentGuest Dec 24 '13 at 17:19
  • @PermanentGuest If he found another question that appears to be a duplicate and it's answer didn't answer his question, then his question should link to that other question, explain how his problem differs (if it does) and explain what problems he had with the solution provided. This information then differentiates the question. If you only ask a duplicate question without indicating how the duplicate's answer doesn't help you, the questions really are duplicates. I don't see how it's unethical to close a question of a duplicate when it is in fact a duplicate. Everyone still gets their answer. – Servy Dec 24 '13 at 17:22

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