Regular users cannot close questions as duplicates if the original question is unanswered (as per Stack Exchange definition of answered, i.e. answered and upvoted). If they try to do so they receive the following message:

Screenshot of reject reason

This question does not have an upvoted or accepted answer.

I thought of a potential workaround for this. As a user with a gold tag badge I can edit the list of duplicates on a question. When I picked a random question that was already closed as a duplicate I did not receive the above rejection message when I tried to add the question that was unanswered:

Screenshot showing no rejection message

I was then able to click "add", again with no problem:

Screenshot showing no rejection message

And I was even able to save it with no problem:

Screenshot of saved duplicate list

And this is documented in the Revision History:

Screenshot of Revision History

And to complete the workaround I was then able to remove the original duplicate:

Screenshot showing no problem with removing original duplicate

And save it:

Screenshot showing saved duplicate

And this too is documented in the Revision History:

Screenshot of Revision History

Thus, in just a few steps I was able to subvert the block on regular users closing questions as duplicates of unanswered questions. This seems problematic. If regular users should not be able to close such questions (which I happen to disagree with) then I should not be able to close it just by throwing in a couple of extra steps. And if regular users should be able to close such questions (which I happen to agree with) then they should be able to do it from the outset without having to trick the system.

The above was all done on a test question. However, when I tried to use the same trick on the actual question that I wanted to close (since deleted), it didn't work. Since the question was currently open I had to first close it as a duplicate of a random answered question. That part worked fine. But then when I tried to add the unanswered question to the duplicate list I got the rejection message. (Sorry, no screenshots for this part because I can't recreate it since I can no longer vote to close the question since I already closed and reopened it.)

So the question now is, if this trick worked on the other question why didn't it work for this question? As far as I can tell, the only real difference (other than timing) was that with this question the original duplicate closure was done by me, whereas the other question was originally closed by others. Is that what caused the difference? If it is then I guess it solves the problem of a single user being able to bypass the system. But if it's not then what is the reason?

Note: This is not a bug report. This is a support question asking about how the system currently works.

  • I'd say leave it be. This trick requires some effort to perform, and it can only be done by gold-badge holders. Those users have shown a lot of effort answering questions in that tag, and already have a soft restriction against closing such questions. Moderators have the ability to close questions as duplicates of unanswered ones; I don't see a reason to deny that from gold-badge holders (provided that it's not "easy" to do so). – Sonic the Anonymous Hedgehog Mar 29 '19 at 18:39
  • @SonictheWizardWerehog I'm mostly interested in the second half of the question. – Alex Mar 29 '19 at 18:44
  • I figured, which is why I removed my edit. – Sonic the Anonymous Hedgehog Mar 29 '19 at 18:49
  • @SonictheWizardWerehog I didn't even notice it... – Alex Mar 29 '19 at 18:49
  • "This seems problematic." No, because "this is documented in the Revision History". – Cody Gray Mar 30 '19 at 5:50

In the first (test) case, both questions were posted by the same user.

Anyone can flag/vote to close as a duplicate to the same asker's other question even without any answers. This is usually applied when the asker reposts a similar/same question multiple times (i.e. exact duplicate).

I don't have enough information for the second (real) case, but I believe you're attempting to vote as a dupe of different user's question without upvoted/accepted answer, which is always prohibited unless you're a moderator.

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