A few days ago, the automatic comment when voting to close a question as a duplicate was changed from:

Possible duplicate of [x]


Does this answer your question? [x]

While some people may disagree with the change, the merits of this change and whether or not you prefer it are irrelevant to this post.

However, this comment makes literally zero sense if the proposed target question is unanswered. This is true no matter which side of the camp you're on.

While this situation is rare on main Q&A sites as the system blocks normal users from choosing an unanswered target unless it was posted by the same author, it is common on meta sites as no such block exists on those. Duplicate closures are often used on meta sites in the same manner as duplicate closures on issue trackers: if the same bug report or feature request was filed in the past, but didn't receive an answer, a newer one requesting the same thing will be closed as a duplicate.

Can we please change the comment for cases where the proposed target has no answers, to something like this?

Is this the same as your question? [x]

Also, for cases on main sites where the proposed target was posted by the same author:

It appears you may have already asked the same question at [x]

  • 8
    I think you missed a third case that I saw :-). It posts this comment even when you vote to close your own question as a duplicate. As if you are asking yourself a question.
    – sourcejedi
    Commented Dec 9, 2019 at 20:56
  • 3
    @sourcejedi That's true, but outside the scope of this question (it refers only to unanswered targets). I'd post a new question about that. Commented Dec 9, 2019 at 21:00
  • 3
    There's a different complaint about the same notice --- You said it is a "consensus" that: "... voting to close this as a duplicate of New Post Notices are live network-wide.". - While that's not the word I'd use it's the thing to do. This question should be feedback there.
    – Rob
    Commented Dec 10, 2019 at 0:11
  • @Rob I did say elsewhere somewhere that one should avoid ex post facto closures. There were no answers addressing this specific thing at the time this was asked, and even if one is posted, the closure would be ex post facto. That answer makes an opinionated argument as to why the new comment isn't desired in general (it encourages a conversational reply), and doesn't specifically mention the case of unanswered questions and how exactly it makes no sense there. Commented Dec 10, 2019 at 0:13
  • 1
    Correct, that's the way questions tagged by Staff with "Discussion" and "Announcement" work. The announcement is the question, what you wrote above (this question) is offered as an "answer" (feedback), to which the Staff might reply (and promised to read) that they accept or decline; then they edit/red-tag your answer. --- You explained this to someone else, see the link, and several posts have been closed as duplicates of that announcement (see the right column linked list, where many (but not all) are duped).
    – Rob
    Commented Dec 10, 2019 at 0:21
  • 1
    @Rob What you're missing, however, is that the things being posted as feedback have to be about the thing which feedback is being asked for...this is not. The autocomment has nothing to do with post notices. The said duplicates are all about post notices. This is not about post notices. Commented Dec 10, 2019 at 0:32
  • 1
    Sonic, I have no disagreement about the "subject" of the question but the "subject of the answer (feedback)" is identical; though the issue is different. --- For that reason and because Yaakov has responded to feedback about that "autocomment" there, it isn't unreasonable to link (dupe) the two. Your argument, in your prior comment, is also not unreasonable. It's an edge-case. --- I'm OK with them separate or joined, you favor them separate; I understand that.
    – Rob
    Commented Dec 10, 2019 at 0:53
  • 1
    If the same question is being submitted by an author then, then I vote to delete the question, as well as closing it as a duplicate.
    – Ramhound
    Commented Dec 10, 2019 at 4:20
  • While normal users on the main QA sites may not be able to pick a unanswered target, I've hit the case where the target had accepted answer that I didn't agree with, but the question was the same. It made sense to mark my question as a duplicate, but the prompt "Does this answer your question" didn't really make sense, since in my opinion it didn't have a good answer.
    – xdhmoore
    Commented Aug 30, 2020 at 22:31

1 Answer 1


Short answer here is that we're aiming to facilitate what we think is the core utility of these comments... We might be wrong about that utility, or wrong about whether our change helps more than it hinders - but determining that will take time and effort.

So I've marked this request as "deferred" to indicate that, while we believe your concerns likely have merit, we can't address them right now; we'll revisit this in the future once we have a better idea of how best to do so.

For more details, see my long and rambling answer over on a related question.

  • 5
    I think the general tone of most of the close reasons and comments can come off as rather frigid to some people. For example, it's already frustrating enough for a user to be told pointedly, as a factual assertion rather than interrogatory, that a question is a duplicate when it's not, defeating the purpose of the Related section. This is one of the things that I think leaves people with a sense that the sites are "elitist." While an interrogatory tone is definitely warmer, I think the juxtaposition with closure, OP's point, and the lack of guard against laziness makes that feeling worse. Commented Dec 17, 2019 at 22:02
  • 1
    I feel like engagement after the comments would be heightened if the OP of a question feels like the participants spent a bit of brain energy interpreting the question or related question. That in turn would also assist readers, as then OP's not going to shut down and leave because now OP has to unravel why someone just slapped something on without even looking and then undo the close vote, which may be a barrier to them. A bit of technical assistance may be of utility, such as tf–idf or an easy to see answer count (or accepted answer), or some other visual cue. Commented Dec 17, 2019 at 22:16
  • 1
    One thing to keep in mind if you haven't seen it: the UX for askers when a question has duplicate votes / flags is somewhat different from how it will appear to voters or casual readers. Specifically: the asker is asked to review the suggested originals, and confirm or edit accordingly. I agree that there's a lot of room for improvement here, but... One step at a time.
    – Shog9
    Commented Dec 17, 2019 at 22:34
  • There's another problem with this new text: Either I am unsure whether it's a duplicate, then I leave a comment asking about it, but DO NOT vote to close, or I am sure that it is a duplicate, then I vote to close and DO NOT ask whether it is one, because I already know the answer. It's pretty annoying to have to vote to close, reload the page and then edit the comment every single time. Commented Jan 9, 2020 at 2:21
  • 1
    @FabianRöling Keep in mind that editing the automatic comment will prevent it from being automatically deleted once the question is closed, so even if I disagree with the new text being applied in a certain case, I refrain from editing it to place less workload on moderators. Commented Jan 22, 2020 at 7:16
  • No it won't, @sonic - they're tracked by id.
    – Shog9
    Commented Jan 22, 2020 at 14:11
  • 1
    @Shog9 That's true, there is an internal ID saved, but since last year, they're explicitly excluded from auto-deletion if they were edited. (Technically, this behavior was prevented for a long time, but suffered from a bug; that bug was fixed at that time.) Commented Feb 2, 2020 at 21:41
  • Good memory, @Sonic! I'd forgotten all about that check.
    – Shog9
    Commented Feb 3, 2020 at 3:37

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .