In multiple meta questions it's suggested that an older question can be marked as a duplicate of a newer question. For example, from the accepted answer to "Should I vote to close a duplicate question, even though it's much newer, and has more up to date answers?"

If the new question is a better question or has better answers, then vote to close the old one as a duplicate of the new one.

A comment on that answer suggests that unfairly penalizes the earlier asker.

The problem with marking the older question as a duplicate of the newer question is that you're penalizing the person who asked the question first, since duplicate questions factor into the question-ban formula


  • Do earlier questions marked as duplicates factor into the question-ban formula, or have any other penalty, for the original asker?
  • If so, could that be changed to not happen?

[Apologies if this question is itself a duplicate. I did search beforehand.]

  • 4
    if the question ban algorithm punishes duplicates with positive score, that would be quite stupid of it. Not to mention that it would be a direct violation of guidance laid out in Dr. Strangedupe... article
    – gnat
    Jul 1, 2015 at 18:44
  • @gnat Closing a duplicate with positive score does impose a (slight) punishment on the original asker. You could check the details in the answers below. I agree with you that the system is not perfect and possibly "stupid".
    – High GPA
    Feb 13, 2022 at 11:31

3 Answers 3



Closing is a fairly weak signal when it comes to q-banning; voting is king. An old, closed, but well-received question is probably a net positive; a new, open, but heavily-downvoted question is gonna hurt.

The only scenario where this would matter is one where you've never done anything positive, where the system looks at your account and sees no signal at all apart from a whole lot of questions of which a significant number are closed.

Yes, the q-ban system is essentially Anubis.

Image credit: MelUran on DeviantArt

  • 1
    Thank you for an authoritative answer. It sounds like you're saying that there is a black mark, but it's so lightweight that it's almost certainly not going to matter, if the older asker's reputation heart is good. For those of us not wanting to add any unfair stain, however lightweight, would it be reasonable to upvote the older question before closing it? Jul 2, 2015 at 21:39
  • 3
    If you think it is a well-written question, sure. You should do this anyway. Otherwise, don't worry about it; the chances of it mattering are vanishingly small.
    – Shog9
    Jul 2, 2015 at 21:42

A few duplicates will not harm the asker.

The question ban exists purely to stop people who take no effort in doing any research or properly asking questions consistently.

Yes, duplicates are taken into account in the automatic-ban, however, it allows for a few dupes/closed/downvoted posts.

After all, duplicates are not thought of as being bad usually, because they act as signposts to other users as they have different key words in them that some other people might type into search to find it.

There are feature-requests asking to penalize users for duplicates, such as this, and feature-requests to stop rep gain on dupes: see this.

  • 6
    It seems somewhat unfair to have any penalty for lacking foreknowledge of later questions -- even if that penalty is a few black marks that usually aren't enough to push someone over the edge into the ban. I personally don't know how to search for questions that have not yet been asked. And, as evidenced by the cited comment, the existence of those black marks can hinder marking an earlier question as a duplicate. Perhaps there should be a distinction made between later duplicates and earlier duplicates. Jul 1, 2015 at 18:02
  • @AndyThomas Hmmm. I didn't see the 'older'/'newer' part of that comment. AFAIK there is no difference between questions marked as dupes to new OR old questions. Jul 1, 2015 at 18:06

YES if the q-banning formula guessed by people is on the right direction.

I think Shog9 is authoritative as a a former employee. Shog9 says that, a well-received but closed question is probably positive and possibly non-positive. To my knowledge, a well-received but open question is certainly positive (correct me if I am wrong). Therefore, the action of closing an earlier question still penalizes the asker.

For example, a well-received open question worth two dollars, and a well-received closed question worth one dollar. This means that "well-received" equals two dollars and the action of closing or marking as duplicate always means negative one dollar.

By the way, the OP of this post was asking if the action of "marking as duplicate" or closure due to duplication is negative or positive. Some other answerer are saying that some closed questions are positive. I do agree with their point, but they do not directly answer OP's question.

Another user ᔕᖺᘎᕊ also confirmed that duplicates are counted in the auto-ban formula. He also confirms that closing, duplications, and downvotes are treated similarly in the system.

PS: I don't know why reasonable doubts against this site are usually suppressed. Here are some common Q/A for this answer:

  1. "But Shog9 did not say that a well-received but closed question is possibly non-positive".

Fact: Shog9 clearly said that "a well-received but closed question is probably positive". It is common knowledge that "probably" means "above 50%".

  1. "I agree that a well-received closed questions worth less than a well-received open question. But the question still has positive weight and closing question does not harm the asker."

Fact: for example, if a well-received open question worth two points, a well-received closed question worth one point, then closing a question means -1 point: a one point harm done on the asker. The OP is asking about the action of "marking an earlier question as duplicate".

  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. This has definitely reached very chatty levels with comments popping up every 10-30 seconds, so go use chat if you want to argue about the semantics of the accepted answer.
    – Tinkeringbell Mod
    Feb 8, 2022 at 14:43

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