Looks like this situation has occurred previously here: Duplicate questions, both without an answer cannot be flagged

There is a question (Who does healers follow?) that was just asked today that is a duplicate of a question (Under what conditions will healers switch targets?) that I asked a month ago. However, my question has yet to get a well-received answer, so flagging it as a duplicate returns an error (just like above linked meta question). Should anything be done about this?

1 Answer 1


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:

  1. 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:

  1. 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
  2. Try and find an answer for them
    • Potentially share the question with friends who might know the answer.
  3. Raise a bounty
  4. 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.
  • I guess if the mods prefer we waste their time by flagging, then we can do that. Still don't understand why the requirement for an answer exists in the first place.
    – DCShannon
    Jul 16, 2016 at 1:33
  • @DCShannon - Because primarily the SE sites exist to to help people. If a duplicate doesn't solve the asker's problem (as in, doesn't have an answer), then it should not be marked as a duplicate, according to the SE team.
    – Robotnik Mod
    Jul 16, 2016 at 1:41
  • 1
    I don't see any justification or reason there at all, beside "SE team says so". Duplicate questions are duplicates if they are the same question. We're not marking duplicate answers. If a duplicate doesn't solve the asker's problem... well that doesn't have anything to with it, and I can't even think of a possible connection to refute. It's more helpful to link them, so if one gets answered they both get answered. That's helpful.
    – DCShannon
    Jul 16, 2016 at 1:44
  • @DCShannon - I'm explaining why the 'must have an upvoted answer' restriction exists, and it does exist because the SE team said so. From the quote I linked above: "..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.".
    – Robotnik Mod
    Jul 16, 2016 at 1:47
  • Okay, I see what you're saying. Semantics a bit there. I'll rephrase: I still don't understand why the SE team thinks that this requirement should exist.
    – DCShannon
    Jul 16, 2016 at 1:50
  • @DCShannon - Sounds like a developer intent question, which would be off-topic :P. On a more serious note I'll direct you to this Meta SE question rallying against this very feature. Note the 'status-declined' tag.
    – Robotnik Mod
    Jul 16, 2016 at 1:53
  • Lol. Yes, I remember reading that. I upvoted the top answer some time ago. That's a useful link, thanks for posting that. Wouldn't hurt to insert that in the answer itself.
    – DCShannon
    Jul 16, 2016 at 1:56
  • @DCShannon - Eh, I'd rather not, it's more of an opinion piece on the workings of the site and not really relevant to 'what to do in case of duplicates without answers', which is why I left it out of my answer in the first place. The important points from my answer are: 1) Yes the restriction exists 2) This is the reasons we were given for why it exists 3) Don't abuse the vote system to get around the restriction and 4) In exceptional cases, flag for mod attention.
    – Robotnik Mod
    Jul 16, 2016 at 2:04

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