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I think we should consider not marking questions which may seem duplicate as being duplicates (especially in the case of StackOverflow.)

We have a lot of new users every day. Some may be capable of giving extremely good answers to these questions, but they are deprived of the opportunity when the question is closed as duplicate.

I came across some questions which were marked duplicate because a similar question exists which was asked years ago. The technology changes frequently(especially in the case of programming languages) and I believe that the answers too need to be updated. A question which was asked years ago might have an answer based on technology or services available at that point in time. But a similar or exactly the same question, asked more recently, would have a good answer if the answer is based on recent technology.

For example, if someone asked a question

How to add images to a webpage using HTML?

This feature was not available. Now it is, with HTML5.

If a similar question is asked recently and if someone marks it duplicate,the person at the other end would be redirected to an older question with the answer-"It's not possible with HTML." So the person at the other end is going to miss out this important feature in HTML5!

Marking questions as duplicate should be based on a wide comparison, and only after finding an older question whose answers match the latest changes or updated features.

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There is nothing stopping the new user with the great answer in their head adding that answer to the old question. In fact, it's important that they do so. If there is an old question, perhaps one that is linked to from blogs and such, that says something isn't possible, where do you think the new answer saying it is possible belongs:

  • on a new, low voted question that was just asked today?
  • on that old question that everyone knows about?

The duplicate mechanism ensures that answers all stay together in one place. It's a feature. When a new answer is added to the old question, it will be bumped to the front page. This is all working as designed.

  • Well,when a question is asked,the person who asked is looking for an answer-the best answer.When a question is being marked as duplicate,many people who were planning to answer may backout maybe because they don't feel it too good to go click another link to post an answer.Don't you think so?Maybe,some extra reputation should be given to a person if he adds an answer to an old question and recieves good feedback (if he recieves more than 20 upvotes or so).This would encourage them to follow up to the older question and it would make sure(75%) that the person who asked recieves a good answer – Mathews Mathai Dec 16 '15 at 18:25
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    @MathewsMathai There is a badge for answering old questions and getting a score of 5 or more. – ff524 Dec 16 '15 at 18:35
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    well that's a different request, rewarding people for answering really old questions and rewarding people for very good answers to questions that already have answers. Those requests have already been made in questions of their own. – Kate Gregory Dec 16 '15 at 18:38
  • @ff524 a badge is won only once!! – Mathews Mathai Dec 16 '15 at 18:51
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    @MathewsMathai It says right there in the badge description I linked to: "This badge can be awarded multiple times." – ff524 Dec 16 '15 at 18:52
  • @ff524..Okay..Cool!!...This serves the purpose!! – Mathews Mathai Dec 16 '15 at 18:53
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There are two cases:

  • The situation an old question covers is fully applicable to the new question - then it's a duplicate, and nothing would change that
  • there's a major difference in the new situation (such as asking about a new version of the product that has related changes) that makes the old answer(s) not applicable
    • then the asker (since no one else has the authority to decide for him what he wants) needs to explicitly state
      • that he knows of the old question by linking to it (=show their research), and
      • the valid reasons he has to believe it is not applicable. Then the peers can explicitly discuss/decide if it's really so

As per above, I do not see a need to change anything.

  • Is this true...? – Mathews Mathai Dec 16 '15 at 18:50
  • @MathewsMathai Of course, it's true! What do you think I am, lying? :^) (a silly answer to a silly question) – ivan_pozdeev Dec 16 '15 at 18:53
  • Silly questions turn up to be important in life sometimes,so appreciate them.. :) – Mathews Mathai Dec 16 '15 at 18:59
  • @MathewsMathai I can go to lengths about that, but don't currently see a use. So just advising likewise to appreciate "mathematician's answers" for badly formulated questions when you get them :^) – ivan_pozdeev Dec 16 '15 at 19:04

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