Please don't abuse the voting system in order to get a duplication. Vote up answers that you think are great/useful answers that will benefit other people. That's what upvotes are for.
In the general case, usually one of the questions eventually gets an answer that is worth upvoting, that question/answer becomes useful to everybody else, and we can close all other instances as duplicates.
Occasionally, this doesn't happen. It's not common, and the feature of requiring an answer with > 0 score was implemented to stop people blithely closing as duplicate when there's no answer:
...So what do we want to tell the user instead? Something like, “Somebody already asked this. If that other question doesn't solve your problem, please clarify your question to explain how it's different.” Perfect: if the other question helps them, they're happy because they got an answer. If the other question doesn't help them, they know exactly what to do. No argument about how exact an "exact duplicate" needs to be.
...the proof is in the answers. If the question looks the same, but the answers aren't solving the asker's problem, that is not a dupe – that is a legitimate new question. Neither the person asking nor the person who lands from Google cares if the question has been asked before: they care if it has been answered.
So here are the changes we made:
- We've changed the instructions everywhere to indicate that the answers to the original question must solve the dupe’s problem. That means that the original must have an answer †
† There are some exceptions to the requirement that the original have answers. First, mods can close as dupe of anything, to handle any special cases. Second, you can always close as dupe if it's from the same user, to cover the case of problem users who post the same thing multiple times. Last but not least, this check is disabled on meta.
Changes to “close as duplicate” (part deux) - SE Team
So, in these exceptional circumstances, you should flag for moderator attention, explaining the situation, linking to the relevant questions where possible, and we'll look into it.
Note that a question doesn't have to be "first" to be the best question or get better answers. There is another meta on that topic: On ending Chronological Oppression with respect to the matter of Question Duplication: If we're not quick enough and a later question gets a (good) answer, we should mark the older as duplicate of the newer.
As for what to do if a question is not getting any (good) answers:
- Edit the question (and potentially the answers) to clarify them.
- Fix spelling/grammar/puntuation/formatting.
- Inline any images (so they resolve to stack.imgur.com and aren't subject to link rot), giving them a description while you're there
- Make sure the question title accurately represents the question body, and isn't just 'problem with X' etc.
- Make sure the question is appropriately tagged
- Try and find an answer for them
- Potentially share the question with friends who might know the answer.
- Raise a bounty
- Favourite the question (click the star under the vote count) so you can be alerted to updates.
- Favourited questions show activity under your 'Favourites' tab on your profile.