If there are multiple questions asking essentially the same /similar, which of them should be kept and which should be marked as duplicate?

Do we have a guideline for this?

I was under the impression that the first question or the best question should be the one to be retained (not closed).

  • First off, closed != deleted. Good and upvoted but closed questions typically don't get deleted. Also, I usually think it's the community consensus. For example, here on meta, it's possible that an earlier question be marked as a dupe, because of feature updates etc.
    – M.A.R.
    Aug 3, 2015 at 6:48
  • Yes. Duplicate questions won't be deleted. But I doubt whether there is any scope for community consensus here. The question which gets flagged first (the first close vote), will be the one to be closed eventually as other users will get the prompt to check if it is duplicate. I think we should have a better way to deal with the situation.
    – AIB
    Aug 3, 2015 at 6:53
  • I always comment if I believe a question should or shouldn't be closed for any reason, unless it's blatant and obvious (like coming here and asking "how to write teh codez in java, plzzz halp URGENT"). I'm eager to see the answers on this one, but if we set objective rules, we always have to expect to see exceptions, as the community is human. Well, usually human.
    – M.A.R.
    Aug 3, 2015 at 6:57
  • The better question and answer set should be kept as 'main'. The others can be closed as a duplicate of that one. Aug 3, 2015 at 6:58
  • Yes, keeping the better one as 'main' will benefit the community at large. Just one downside is that it might encourage some to ask better phrased questions against an existing duplicate.. Do we already have a mechanism to keep the better as 'main'?
    – AIB
    Aug 3, 2015 at 7:06

1 Answer 1


Every community has a slightly different approach. Some communities are quite fast on closing questions, others don't. This is the same for which question gets to be closed as a duplicate of the other. Generally speaking, from the Q/A point-of-view, you want to retain the best question and answer set since that is the one you want people to actually read (I think even Google knows the procedure so non-closed questions will be placed on top in the search results). The other should be closed as a duplicate of that one, regardless of the age of both.

That doesn't mean we want to ask the same question over and over again, just to improve the question. Instead we want to edit the existing question and answer and improve them. If some time later a duplicate is found, you pick which you find the best. If none really stands out, I think it is best to keep the oldest as the main question.

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