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Increasingly we hear complaints about closing a question as a dupe to another question. Sometimes much effort is put in editing a question to make it look different but this not always results in an improvement.

If the edit did lead to another, different question with different answers or makes the issue clearer then everything is fine as long as exisiting answers still fit. If not we perhaps may also consider asking another question with a more detailed issue.

There are quite clear-cut guidelines from the Stack Exchange policy on what to do with dupe or near-dupe questions so there should be little debate in what to do whenever we come across candidates for dupe-closing.

Dupe-closed questions will tremendously help users who come later to find all relevant information in one place and they give the dupe question & answer thread a huge chance for improvement when additional answers may be added.

The more we cross-link our posts the easier the information we gather here can be found. And isn't this exactly what this is all about? Isn't it wonderful to be able to help so many people who come here later with the same issue?

It is the essence of all Stack Exchange success to have such a huge collection of questions and answers but they need to be found.

So I am really worried about why people feel so bad about their own or other's dupe-closure. What can be done to make it clear that having a question closed as a dupe is not so bad but is actually a good thing?

  • That's a problem with the gamification. But not only rep-hunters, also new users get frustration out of it, especially when the "original" doesn't really match their expectations for answers. 2 problems: 1. Sometimes users get reprimanded in comments for lack of prior research on this 2. if this involves downvotes… / 2 suggestions: remind users not to downvote in marginal/non-obvious dupe cases; make it explicit: "It's a good thing™; i.e.: you took one for the team" – LangLangC Mar 13 '18 at 19:45
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    @LangLangC: good point with the downvotes. It appeared so absurd to me that I did not even think of it. A dupe question should of course not be downvoted because that would counter-act the idea of signposting. – Takkat Mar 14 '18 at 8:59
  • @LangLangC Interesting gamification note, is SE an accepted example for this at all? Do you have resources for this? In the end I think it is not a valid term for the reputation system but this is a long discussion of course... – Thomas Mar 14 '18 at 13:32
  • @Thomas Read this en passant elsewhere on the web, no studies or anything. Seemed like a good enough description for some aspects. But see these two posts from Atwood and on metaSE. – LangLangC Mar 14 '18 at 13:39
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In my opinion we think that the dupe question is a bad thing because sometimes the target question doesn't answer our question even if it has answers (maybe they are good answers only to that question), so when our question gets closed, while we didn't get a good answer, we get confused because of this. But if our question got answered before closing, we don't have any problem in this case.

You may say that if your question got marked as dupe, and you didn't get an answer, you can go to the target question and make a comment there asking for more explanation in a case that the answers were not satisfying you. I agree with this, but what happens is that the commenting feature doesn't get activated unless you get a specific number of reputations. So if you let the author of the dupe question be able to comment in the target question without getting the required reputation, then the worry of the dupe questions will end. And in this case I think you have to let the author know about his ability to comment in the target question to get more explanation.

  • Yeah - that's a good point about unanswered questions closed as a dupe. They are a bit tricky when you believed it was not a dupe but we can see that we wouldn't be able to give you any better answer than those which already exist. If in doubt we usually don't close such cases. If we think that a good answer already exists we may consider to upvote any such good question to show that it is useful (even as a dupe) and prevent it from deletion by the system-robots. – Takkat Mar 12 '18 at 14:58
  • We may also comment and explain why we believe an exsting answer fits here. – Takkat Mar 12 '18 at 14:59
  • So if the users know that you don't close such questions unless you make sure that either no better answers could be presented or the questions have good answers, then the worry of the dupe questions will end as I think. – To Above Mar 12 '18 at 15:08

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