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The way that duplicates work currently is as follows:

  • You can only close as duplicates if the target question has at least one answer that is positively scored or accepted.
  • The previous doesn't apply if it's the same user.

This has a slight problem. There are hard questions asked, and those questions can be asked again. So, there may exist duplicate questions that can't be closed merely because those questions haven't been answered.

I propose a slight change:

  • Any question can be closed as duplicate of other question
  • The previous doesn't apply if the target has no answers and the question being closed as duplicate has any answer.
  • The target question shouldn't be closed by any reason.

With this change, the user check and the score/vote check is removed, in favor of simply having answers, and only do so when the one being closed as duplicate has them.

If you feel deja vu about this, it's because it's not new. In fact it's almost 10 years old idea by now, even if we recently rediscovered it.

Now why this is better? Well, first of all, it removes the incentive of closing as duplicate of any question just because it has one applicable answer, instead of looking for the actual duplicate. Second, this is how meta works anyways, that way it's not totally surprising.

What problems can the change create? Well, if it's implemented as is, it wouldn't create any problem that I can think off in any scenario, that doesn't happen actually. By my counts, it would potentially solve two problems and create zero, so that's a win.

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  • What is the purpose of closing a question as a duplicate of another in your opinion?
    – ColleenV
    Apr 21 at 15:44
  • In your proposal, do you mean "Any question can be closed as duplicate of any other question"?
    – bobble
    Apr 21 at 15:48
  • I feel like this would reduce the chance of the question being answered. People prefer answering a new question to one that has no answers that's been languishing in obscurity.
    – Laurel
    Apr 21 at 16:23
  • 3
    How will closing a question as a dupe of one that has no answers make it easier for someone to find an answer? How do we choose which answerless question has the best chance of attracting one if they're all equal? At a minimum, there should be a requirement that the older question that failed to attract any answers be closed as a dupe of the newer question which has an author that is still engaged with the question. Or that the questions be upvoted. I haven't downvoted your suggestion, and I'm not arguing against it, but I don't see much reason to change anything (yet).
    – ColleenV
    Apr 21 at 17:00
  • 1
    @ColleenV well, there's no answer anywhere anyways, so does it matter? Also, once one is answered, both are answered without anyone having to search previously unanswered but now answered question.
    – Braiam
    Apr 21 at 17:18
  • @Laurel isn't that a feature?
    – Braiam
    Apr 21 at 17:18
  • @Braiam Because maybe there's a good reason the other question hasn't gotten any answers? By closing one as a dupe of the other, you might just be tying a figurative anchor around its neck. Duplicate closure (IMO) isn't really a great solution to the same question getting asked over and over.
    – ColleenV
    Apr 21 at 17:20
  • 2
    No, because the question isn't getting answered because people aren't looking past the duplicate label when looking for questions to answer. Neither question gets an answer.
    – Laurel
    Apr 21 at 17:21
  • 1
    @Laurel that's statement alone tells me that you don't know how duplicates work, then. Let me take the time to educate you and anyone that thinks the same: questions closed as duplicate redirect automatically to the target question. It has done that since 2012! 10 years ago. So, your statement wouldn't be more far from the truth, since any reader will only see an unanswered, open question.
    – Braiam
    Apr 21 at 17:49
  • 1
    @ColleenV and yet, it will be continuously be asked anyways. Duplication wasn't meant to solve that. It was meant to help future readers. People asking questions rarely read, am I right?
    – Braiam
    Apr 21 at 17:53
  • 1
    OK, still not understanding why you think closing a question as a duplicate of a question that hasn't been answered helps future readers find an answer. It doesn't help the other question get answered. It doesn't help the author of the closed question get an answer. It doesn't help people searching for an answer.
    – ColleenV
    Apr 21 at 17:55
  • You're misunderstanding me. I'm talking about the behavior of site regulars, who have accounts and therefore wouldn't be redirected. They focus on new questions, where their answers won't be ignored.
    – Laurel
    Apr 21 at 20:20
  • 1
    Ok, I understand a bit better. I think though that there has to be some indication that the destination of all those signposts will get answered someday, so I am still not on-board with letting people close questions as dupes of any question they feel like. Some folks' favorite pastime is closing down discussions as duplicates of 11 year old posts. With the current system we do a crappy job of finding appropriate duplicates. I think opening it up will make it worse.
    – ColleenV
    Apr 22 at 15:13
  • 1
    We're having a discussion right now, are we not? I was referring to posts here on Meta. If you're going to pull that "you don't understand how SE works" crap over one word in a comment (I have been here for 7 years, and have been a moderator for 5 of those) I'm done trying to understand your perspective.
    – ColleenV
    Apr 22 at 15:32

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