If someone visits a question without an answer, that is closed as a duplicate, the person will automatically be sent to the original question. Consequently, it will be impossible to view the contents of the newer question. However, if the newer question received one or more answers posted before being closed as a duplicate, the page and the answer(s) posted will be visible.

For example, when I am logged out, I cannot see the following question:

  1. Deleted comments still visible in the SuperCollider

Instead, the system directs me automatically to the “original” question

  1. Why is there a comment in my inbox that doesn't exist?

The same situation is repeated when visitors and logged-out users click on the question:

  1. For those that don't know about them: Comment shortcuts are handy

they will be transported to

  1. Add data.SE style "magic links" to comments and its single answer.

On the other hand, a question which has been closed as a duplicate of two older questions, for instance What's going on with the Announcer badge? will not automagically redirect the visitor (or the logged-out user) to the older posts.

I checked to see if this was by design in the FAQ

How should duplicate questions be handled?
The most relevant piece of information that I could glean was

Should duplicates be deleted? In general, no: most duplicates stay around. Having multiple copies of the same question with different wording is useful as search fodder, because people looking for an answer may use different wording too.

I also searched What is a "closed", “on hold”, or "duplicate" question? but found nothing which suggests a question that is closed as a duplicate appears "invisible" to visitors or users who are logged out of the site.

I tagged the question as a bug because it's unclear whether this feature is by design or not. If it is, I'm not terribly convinced it's a good idea. Not sure why a new question, which has been carefully composed and upvoted should not be useful to visitors.

  • 1
    If a question has been closed as a dupe, the idea is that the answers are on the dupe target. Therefore, new users should be sent directly to where the answers are. This sounds like everything is working as it should. Could you explain what benefit you see in sending users to the closed question? That just means that they can't see any answers until they figure out where the dupe link is, click it and visit the dupe target.
    – terdon
    Commented Dec 17, 2019 at 14:40
  • 1
    I tagged the question as a bug ... it more looks like you only left out feature-request ...
    – rene
    Commented Dec 17, 2019 at 14:40
  • @terdon-stopharmingMonica if that is the case, and I understand the reasoning behind it, why stop with unregistered users? Why only logged-out users? And if the new question has been upvoted and has been carefully composed maybe it has greater worth than the so-called original question. Finally, it is physically impossible to read the newer question. I found that rather surprising and off-putting. Commented Dec 17, 2019 at 14:43
  • This is intentional (meta.stackexchange.com/a/125807/151385). Commented Dec 17, 2019 at 14:46
  • @MadScientist then that information should be added to the FAQ. Trust me, I searched before spending a good 30-45 minutes composing this post. Commented Dec 17, 2019 at 14:48
  • 1
    It is already mentioned in the duplicate FAQ: "Furthermore, if the question is unanswered, and there is only one target, then anonymous visitors are automatically redirected to the target." Commented Dec 17, 2019 at 16:27
  • Also, if an anonymous user really wants to see the unanswered duplicate, they can do so by adding ?noredirect=1 to the URL. Commented Dec 17, 2019 at 16:29
  • @SonictheReinstateMonica-hog and how is an unregistered or logged-out user supposed to know to do that? As for the bit about "redirected to the target" couldn't someone have used the expression "original question"? It's also under the subheading "What happens to duplicate questions?" Instead of saying "redirected" maybe it could say "anonymous users are taken automatically to the older or original question and to its answers" Lastly, it's a very long winded FAQ page, not easy to skim through. Commented Dec 17, 2019 at 17:35

1 Answer 1


This was added in 2012 in response to a feature request: Automatically redirect anonymous user from unanswered duplicate question to corresponding answered version

This is by design and, as you can see, has been in practice for a long time.

Users who are anonymous want answers, generally, so showing them a duplicate question with no answers is a waste of their time. They have to find the duplicate link and go to the other question. It's much better user experience to take them directly to the question that has good answers than an empty answer. Additionally, because they're anonymous, they can't vote on the duplicate, anyway, so the asker of the duplicate isn't losing out on anything.

  • But a question closed as a duplicate of two other questions remains visible, which I found quite perplexing. Commented Dec 17, 2019 at 14:49
  • 4
    Because there might be two different answers and both might be necessary to fully answer the question. This seems reasonable to me.
    – Catija
    Commented Dec 17, 2019 at 14:50
  • Have a look at the link I posted one of the linked question has no answers and is closed as a duplicate of meta.stackexchange.com/questions/340292/… Commented Dec 17, 2019 at 14:55
  • Yes, but this question meta.stackexchange.com/questions/340296/… is visible to visitors, anonymous and logged-out users but it has no answers. Commented Dec 17, 2019 at 14:57
  • 3
    If you want to argue that it should be changed, please create a FR. This discussion is going far afield from the actual question.
    – Catija
    Commented Dec 17, 2019 at 14:58
  • I'm calmly explaining, not arguing, why I posted my question, and why I was uncertain whether it was status by design. Commented Dec 17, 2019 at 15:00
  • An "argument" has nothing to do with not being calm. Two people participating in a debate are "arguing" their sides. In most cases, that example will not happen because only mods can generally close questions as duplicates of unanswered questions.
    – Catija
    Commented Dec 17, 2019 at 15:03
  • @Catija On meta, it's possible to dupe-close with an unanswered beta as target (mods and regular users alike), AFAIK.
    – yivi
    Commented Dec 17, 2019 at 15:06
  • 1
    @yivi Yeah. :) I didn't have the specifics but that's what I was thinking, too. On main sites, only mods can do it, on meta, anyone can - which is generally, I think, because the FR might not have an answer or the bug may not be fixed yet, etc. :D
    – Catija
    Commented Dec 17, 2019 at 15:10
  • Yeah, wasn't disagreeing with the logic, I think it's perfectly fine. Just pointing out that inaccuracy in case it was brought up later. Also, no idea why I wrote "beta" there. I meant "unanswered question".
    – yivi
    Commented Dec 17, 2019 at 15:13

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