When marking question for "duplicate", the reason in dialog window is "exact duplicate", yet when the process is completed there's a comment added that says "possible duplicate". Maybe those two should be evened out to either "possible duplicate" or "exact duplicate"?

Edit: Take this question for instance, it says "Possible" on top but "exact" at the bottom

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and the top remark was added by the system only after the question was closed, i.e. after it was concluded that it was an exact duplicate rather than a possible one.

So the question is: can the text on top be changed to "Exact Duplicate" please?

  • This is also an issue in the moderation queue, as we have "identical" posts as well. Agreed that the wording needs to be fixed all around, it's not giving a clear message.
    – casperOne
    Commented Dec 19, 2011 at 19:19

4 Answers 4


When one person votes, it's possibly a duplicate. When five people vote, it's a duplicate.

  • 12
    Um, so why is the wording exactly the other way round? One person can only vote to close as "exact duplicate", but when five people have close-voted, it becomes a "possible duplicate".
    – ЯegDwight
    Commented Nov 23, 2010 at 10:32
  • @RegDwight: no, it's always closed as an exact duplicate. The comment posted after the first vote for each potential original refers to it as a possible duplicate, as does the auto-inserted list of originals. Eimantas asked about the former; I suspect the latter is a variation on the pluralization bug...
    – Shog9
    Commented Nov 23, 2010 at 15:28
  • Ah yes, point taken. (I was indeed talking about the auto-inserted list, I totally forgot about the div.question-status).
    – ЯegDwight
    Commented Nov 23, 2010 at 15:36
  • 1
    But the highlighted text automatically added to the top of the question after it has been closed by five users reads "Possible Duplicate"! Commented Jan 18, 2012 at 11:37
  • 1
    in at least one case the original poster (me) agreed it was a duplicate and flagged it for the moderator to close, so the designation "possible" is bogus. confusing. Commented Jan 18, 2012 at 14:30

We want people to vote based on a strong belief that it is in fact an exact duplicate.

However, as Shog9 pointed out, this belief only becomes reality when enough people share it.

Any similarity to organized religion is I am sure completely coincidental.. :)

  • 6
    I have seen a number of questions where looking at the linked duplicate the question is not an EXACT duplicate. Often I see the answer to the new part inside of comments, but these people are not getting credit for it. I am thinking that once one person votes as a duplicate and links a possible duplicate that getting 4 more to jump on the bandwagon is not that hard.... Furthermore there doesn't seem to be a way to vote against a question being a duplicate until it is closed and then you re-open the question. If 30 people think it is not a duplicate, this is not recorded anywhere..
    – Cervo
    Commented Jul 24, 2011 at 0:44

I don't like "Exact Duplicate" in the upper text either.

Instead of

[Possible|Exact] Duplicate: 
Was Stack Exchange named after Experts Exchange?

It should read:

Found Duplicate:
Was Stack Exchange named after Experts Exchange?


I think the problem here is that "possible" has the association with "likely", "conceivable" and "probable", which seems to contradict with "exact" in the below message.

However, changing the upper message to "Exact Duplicate" does not take into account that the individual close-voters might have chosen different duplicates. And that this actually requires some judgment on their part - individually they are expected (trusted) to pick exact duplicates; but which duplicate they pick is a matter of judgment and the outcome may differ between voters. So, as a whole, not really exact in my opinion.

In that respect, the message "Possible Duplicate" is actually better!

I think we all can agree that "possible vs exact" can be confusing to some. And it can easily be avoided by clearly communicating that the "closers" found the following duplicate(s?).


IIRC, I saw some closed questions with more than one "Found Duplicate" so we might run into a pluralization issue there :).

  • That would work for me too
    – Marijn
    Commented Jul 12, 2012 at 11:15

From an English language standpoint this actually makes perfect sense. "Possible" and "exact" are not measurements on the same spectrum. "Possible" is a measurement of how certain it is that the question is a duplicate (regardless of how much it is a duplicate), while "exact" is a measure of how much it is a duplicate (regardless of how certain it is that the question is a duplicate).

When displaying the reason why the question was closed at the bottom of the post, the term "exact" is used because the question was closed for being very much a duplicate, even if it turns out that the closure was incorrect. When displaying the link to the other question at the top of the post, the term "possible" is used because even though five voters thought it was an exact duplicate, other voters can disagree and reopen it. Thus, it is possibly a duplicate and possibly not a duplicate.

  • Or because there might be another (arguably better) duplicate to link it to?
    – DavidW
    Commented May 27, 2019 at 17:04

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