Which action(s) are appropriate for exact duplicates? Should I flag them, or vote close them, or both, or something else? I am trying to understand how to flag, which I never do. I read some other posts on meta that try to clarify this, but I am confused because if there is a vote to close feature, why should I also flag the question, since I already voted to close.

Flagging seems only appropriate for spam or personal insults...

  • 2
    Doesn't matter, for you. If you flag to close, it automatically gets converted into a vote to close. Flagging with a close reason is for people who don't have vote-to-close privileges yet.
    – Pops
    Commented May 18, 2011 at 20:27
  • @popular, so something like this stackoverflow.com/questions/6044581/… its completely unintelligible. Would I flag it or vote to close as not a real question?
    – hvgotcodes
    Commented May 18, 2011 at 20:33
  • 4
    As long as you have close vote privileges, it doesn't matter. The system automatically converts them into the exact same action.
    – Pops
    Commented May 18, 2011 at 20:43
  • @hvgotcodes 404 Commented Dec 17, 2020 at 13:16

3 Answers 3


Being able to flag is not dependent on a person's reputation, so flagging is especially helpful for users who do not have the appropriate reputation to vote to close.

If you can vote to close, you ought to do that instead of flagging unless the question is so egregious it absolutely needs to be dealt with outside the normal community moderation channels. In those cases, you should use flag for moderator attention, not the pre-canned close flags, to explain what is so bad about the question.

And, as Popular Demand pointed out in the comments, attempting to flag for the same reason as a close vote (rather than using the free-form flag for moderator attention or the other flags like spam) will be converted into a close vote anyway.

So, a general guideline:

  1. Do you have enough reputation to vote to close?
    • Yes: Go to step 2
    • No: flag it for moderator attention.
  2. Does the question (or its activity) actively harm the internet by virtue of it being left open (or even existing)?
    • Yes: flag it for moderator attention.
    • No: vote to close.

But being a duplicate doesn't necessarily make the question harmful: in fact, some amount of duplication is even encouraged. Check out Jeff Atwood's post, Dr. Strangedupe: Or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying And Love Duplication for more information about the benefits and nuances of duplication.

  • 1
    so would you flag a java pass by value question, or vote to close it. I mean, how many do we need right?
    – hvgotcodes
    Commented May 18, 2011 at 20:31
  • @hvgotcodes If there's nothing pressing about the question, but it's a duplicate, vote to close. If the question is so bad it actively makes the internet worse every passing minute it stays there, flag it for moderator review.
    – user149432
    Commented May 18, 2011 at 20:37
  • What about the flagging badges? The Deputy (flag weight 500) and Marshal (flag weight 749) badges obviously are an incentive for flagging. However, it seems highly unlikely that a user would reach a flag weight of 749 (≙ 536 valid flags) without getting the right to vote to close first. Even after that, you'd probably need to flag everything that's flaggable, particularly on smaller SE sites like my dear home TeX - LaTeX.
    – doncherry
    Commented Sep 3, 2011 at 17:43
  • Flag as dupe makes a vote for the close. Does flag count reduce for that too? Commented Dec 17, 2020 at 13:25

If you have enough reputation, I prefer a close vote, unless:

  1. The question is too old to achieve close velocity, or
  2. The OP has asked the same question twice (flag those).

If you have close votes, you should just use close votes instead of trying to circumvent the close vote process by having a moderator do it. In fact, if you have close votes, your exact duplicate flag gets converted to one anyway.

  • is it appropriate to flag to get a closed question removed?
    – hvgotcodes
    Commented May 18, 2011 at 20:29
  • @hvgotcodes: Moderators will only remove duplicate questions if there's a compelling reason to do so. Remember, duplicates serve as alternate wordings for Google searches to pick up, so having a duplicate on the site is not always a bad thing.
    – user102937
    Commented May 18, 2011 at 20:43

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