Should a very popular question be closed as a duplicate one that is older but extremely less popular?

I ask because Do you print your source code? If so why? was closed as a duplicate of the older Why print your code?. While they are certainly duplicates, this seemed very wrong to me:

  • 71 answers, 46 votes, 7 favorites versus
  • 18 answers, 4 votes, 2 favorites

In this case personally I would have closed the older less popular question as a duplicate of the newer one. Is there an official etiquette?

(Note: I flagged it for a mod, so it may be re-opened or merged or something else in the near future)

  • 4
    I would recommend a merge, assuming we can't just delete them both. Commented Jul 24, 2010 at 1:49
  • 1
    @John: delete seems excessive, it's an interesting question and I found it through google. In fact, it has over 5,000 views so many people find it interesting. I already knew of stack overflow but I could have been a random person who discovered the website for the first time and decided to start contributing. I believe deleting it would hurt the website. In fact, I'm very much against the crazy deletion of popular questions and I'm very glad some time ago Jeff took measures against this behavior. Commented Jul 24, 2010 at 2:02
  • 5
    crap is crap, whether it's popular or not. These questions should have been closed immediately, but unfortunately, they were not. They are not the kind of questions we should allow on SO. In fact, they're the kind of questions which attract more people who think they are appropriate questions, and who are then surprised when the new questions are closed. Commented Jul 24, 2010 at 2:35
  • 2
    They should both be closed by reason of being discussions. Commented Jul 24, 2010 at 2:48

1 Answer 1


I'd say the greater number of answers, votes, and favorites for the newer one is simply a function of the larger community size and number of visits that occur now as compared to the past. I seriously doubt the popularity is a function of the question quality, because both of those questions seem pretty weak to me. Just another couple of bike shed polls.

In such a case, I'd say a merge is in order. Add the new answers to the old question.

  • 1
    I doubt it's a function of the question quality too, but I disagree it's because of the bigger community. I think it's just random luck. Commented Jul 24, 2010 at 1:48
  • @Kop: Luck and posting time are definitely big factors as well. Commented Jul 24, 2010 at 1:58
  • @Kop: Actually, Google Trends indicates that in the time between those two questions were asked, the number of unique daily visitors roughly doubled. That could account for a lot. Commented Jul 24, 2010 at 2:15

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