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I was just want some clarification on what exactly counts as a duplicate question in regard to "This question has been asked before and already has an answer".

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Does saying the original question must "already have an answer" mean it has to have an already accepted answer? Or can it just have any answer at all? What if it is a really good and highly upvoted answer that just never got accepted? Do we just flag it anyway and leave it up to the community's discretion if they want to close it as a duplicate with/without an accepted answer.

Also, just to clarify, does that mean even if a new question is an exact duplicate but it has no answer the new question is valid, or is there a way to bump the old one? If this new one is successful in getting an answer should the old one then be closed as duplicate even though it was first?

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There are two parts to this.

Firstly - the purpose of the Duplicate Question option is so that there can be one, canonical reference for a particular, or highly related question. Not just for now (which is useful so the poster of the new question can immediately get their answer) but also for the future - so that visitors in 1 week, 1 month or 1 year can search for their problem and be routed to the one single place where the answers are.

It may be that currently there are no accepted, or highly voted answers on the original question. But that doesn't mean it'll be the case in the future. Answers can be left at any time, regardless of the question age.

Secondly - Accepted answers don't really mean much more than "the person who asked the question says this solved their problem", it doesn't necessarily mean that answer is the correct one. An answer with 50 votes vs an accepted answer with 3 votes should tell you that the 50 vote one is more likely to be of use.

Accepted ≠ Correct

  • Thank you. So then regardless of if there is an answer (accepted or otherwise) the question should be marked duplicate of the original? Should the subtext of the "duplicate of.." option not say "and already has an answer" then or am I simply overthinking it. – DasBeasto Sep 16 '15 at 13:13
  • I think that if you try to mark a question as a duplicate of another, and that other post has zero answers then it won't let you do that, so that's probably the reason for the subtext. – JonW Sep 16 '15 at 13:22
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    Oh ok well that makes sense then, I guess I've never tried to do that. Thanks for clarification. – DasBeasto Sep 16 '15 at 13:23

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