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Today when I was asking a question on Stack Overflow, after I posted the question, I went to the restroom. After I came back, guess what? My post was closed, because it was a duplicate.

At first, I was a bit upset, but then I realized that it was normal if they think it was a duplicate because I didn't provide information about the research I've done. After I edited it, this time I told them the research I've done, especially emphasizing the link they suggested me to take a look at (I've read that link before I made the post), but I still can't reopen it.

The reason I made this post today is not to reopen it. Instead, I want to discuss about the "close" feature in Stack Overflow. I was really confused about the question and I need an answer in order to continue with my exam. However, now I can't learn. Do duplicate questions really affect the quality of this site? I'm new to this site, but I've been using other SE sites for quite a long time, and I've seen many users not being able to learn just because they really don't understand the other posts and their questions are closed just because they are similar to other posts.

This is what I suggest: We should provide the link of similar posts, but don't close them.

What do you think about that?

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  • 11
    Your SO question has a comment indicating which answer has the solution you're looking for. Why was that insufficient?
    – Mast
    Apr 30 at 10:56
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    You don't seem to have read the comments on your StackOverflow post. The linked duplicate does appear to answer what you have asked about. Unless you can explain why it doesn't answer your question, no one is going to reopen your post.
    – nobody
    Apr 30 at 10:57
  • @Mast Let's not discuss about whether the comment has the solution or not. The main point is about the close feature.
    – user1040018
    Apr 30 at 10:59
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    Needing an answer to continue with an exam sounds a lot like a violation of academic integrity to me... Fingers crossed none of your teachers/professors will ever see this!
    – Tinkeringbell Mod
    Apr 30 at 11:08
  • @Tinkeringbell Haha, what I mean is without the answer, it would be incomplete.
    – user1040018
    Apr 30 at 11:12
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    Re "Do duplicate questions really affect the quality of this site?" Yes. Search engine results become too noisy and thus essentially useless. There could be a (heavily hyphenated) separate site, at i-duplicated-a-stack-overflow-question.com, for those kind of questions, but that is probably never going to happen. Apr 30 at 11:14
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    I think it's a stupid idea, to put it bluntly, to remove one of the key features which makes Stack Exchange work so well and maintain the quality over quantity that it aims for. Stack Exchange is intended to be a repository for Q&A, not a helpdesk or a tutorial service for every individual's idiosyncratic learning needs.
    – Nij
    Apr 30 at 11:22
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    There used to be a clearer delay: meta.stackexchange.com/q/250981/282094 meta.stackexchange.com/q/250922/282094 - but if a quorum agrees quickly (such as on a busy site like Stack Overflow) your question can be closed, even deleted, fast. --- See "Editing to reopen", and explain why the proposed duplicate doesn't answer your question. --- All duplicates link to each other, that's a benefit; in not repeating the same question, and having the best answer in one place. --- No best answer?, write one, or bounty.
    – Rob
    Apr 30 at 11:31
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    After nearly 14 years, you can safely assume that any beginner-level question has already been asked (and answered) on Stack Overflow. It is only a matter of finding them among the existing 22,516,907 questions. Narrowed down to 1,843,604 questions for Java. The canonical versions of them (not the duplicates) usually have a lot of high-quality answers, a lot of upvotes, and a lot of views (it may be helpful for the search). Apr 30 at 11:37

2 Answers 2

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Via the Help Center one arrives at Dr. Strangedupe: Or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying And Love Duplication. From which:

What we want is on the order of 4 or 5 similar-but-not-quite-the-same duplicates to cover all possible search terms and common permutations of the question. It is also OK for these duplicates to have their own answers so people who find them don’t have to click yet again to get to a good answer.

This, to me, is new.

I don't know about your exact question, but since I see only one linked topic, then generally speaking, if there is a subtle difference, just make it clearer in the body, and hopefully it gets reopened.

To your general request, closing as duplicate is important (same Help Center link):

The fundamental goal of closing duplicate questions is to help people find the right answer by getting all of those answers in one place.

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I've done some research, including a post on Stack Overflow or other websites, but I need a more detailed explanation. For example, what's the difference between the double colon operator and lambdas? What are the pros and cons of it?

This is not convincing at all. Including research doesn't mean simply saying "I did some research". What aspect of your research did not answer your question? For example, "I've looked at :: (double colon) operator in Java 8, but the answers there aren't helpful in the way that [explanation as to why the answers were not helpful]. I have also looked at, for example, GeeksForGeeks, but [explanation as to why the website was not helpful]".

If your question has been closed as a duplicate, you should edit your question to explain why the linked question(s) did not answer your question. Again, this is not as simple as saying, "The linked question did not answer my question". You have to explain why.

Generally speaking, this is the case for every post closed as a duplicate; if you can explain why the linked duplicate(s) did not answer your question, the community can consider reopening your question (provided it is convincing).

As the Help center says:

If you see a question closed as a duplicate but don't agree that it truly is a duplicate, edit it to highlight the differences, then try to get it reopened by casting a reopen vote.

Regarding why questions are closed as duplicates:

The general rule is to keep the question with the best collection of answers, and close the other ones as duplicates [sic].

(From How should duplicate questions be handled?)

Let's take two questions, A and B.

If question A has 18 well-written answers and question B (which is not marked as a duplicate although it is a duplicate) has 1 answer that is essentially the same as an answer posted to question A, then question B's answer adds no value to the site. Here's a good example of this case:

In another case, if question B has 1 answer that adds something new to the table, then question B's answer would be more valuable as an answer to question A than question B. Which is why there are two important mechanisms in place: closing questions as duplicates and merging answers; these are two quality control mechanisms that are much-needed on popular Q&A sites such as Stack Overflow.

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