Suppose we have the following three questions:

Question 2 was long ago marked as a duplicate of Question 1. However, I do not think it is an exact duplicate.

Question 3 was just asked, and I think it is an exact duplicate of Question 2.

What to do now?

I don't want to vote it as a duplicate of Question 1, since I don't think it is.

I also don't want to vote it as a duplicate of Question 2, since Question 2 is itself a duplicate.

And I don't want to leave it open, since I think it's an exact duplicate of an existing question.

I suggested that the OP edit it to highlight the difference from Question 2, but I still think it's fundamentally the same question.


2 Answers 2


My pragmatic proposal would be to just leave it open. While it may be a duplicate of Question 2, Question 2 is closed and hence "does not really exist". It should be closed if it is a duplicate of Question 1, but as you say it isn't, I see no reason to mark it as duplicate.

More generally, I think it is important to consider closing as duplicate as "these are very similar questions, to the extend that the answers will be pretty much the same", and not "these are absolutely identical questions". With the first, more practical, definition in mind, it becomes clear that being a duplicate is not necessarily a transitive relationship (that is, it is possible that A is a duplicate of B, B of C, but A not of C).

  • I think you mean transitive, rater than transient. Sep 12, 2014 at 14:14
  • @TobiasKildetoft Yup, thanks.
    – xLeitix
    Sep 12, 2014 at 14:30
  • (1) I don't think that making paths any longer than one in the dupe graph makes any sense. (2) ad "more practical definition": A question should be only a duplicate if it's clear that the answers apply for the question being closed, this may require some comments being kept in the closed question explaining how exactly it is a duplicate.
    – yo'
    Nov 24, 2014 at 16:26

I don't think the fact that question 2 is itself a duplicate of something is a reason not to close question 3 as a duplicate of it. If you do close Q3 as a duplicate of Q2, it keeps the "duplication graph" sensible in case question 2 is reopened sometime in the future. And if that doesn't happen, someone browsing the questions is still going to be pointed to Q1 in the end. The only thing you give up by closing Q3 as a duplicate of Q2 rather than of Q1 is a slight amount of convenience on the part of the reader.

So I would recommend closing question 3 as a duplicate of question 2.

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