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This question already has an answer here:

Early on it surprised me that questions marked as duplicate seem to still function normally. They can be answered, voted on, and commented on.

So what does happen when a question is marked as duplicate?

Clearly the 'duplicate' banner and a comment with a link to the duplicate are added.

Does anything else happen?

marked as duplicate by gnat, Martijn Pieters support Dec 19 '14 at 11:45

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They can be commented and voted on, but they can't actually be answered. What you might be thinking of is the "possible duplicate" stage, where a person has suggested that it might be a duplicate, but the community hasn't yet confirmed it. It's just like casting a close vote (it is, in fact), except it's made public so that the user--assuming it is actually a duplicate--is given their answer more quickly.

The reason duplicates aren't (generally) deleted is so that they can act as sign-posts, directing further traffic to the original question. They can be commented on just like any other closed post, because people might say "hey! this isn't a duplicate, [here's why]." They can also be voted on, because just because something is a duplicate doesn't mean it's exactly the same in presentation or research. There's no good reason to lock a question just because it's been marked as a duplicate.

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