I have recently discovered this question, which has a single, imperfect answer.

I was about to mark it as a duplicate of this question, but realised at that point that the latter question is actually several months newer than the former.

The vote to close option specifically states that the question you are claiming as the "original" should be the older answer: "This question has been asked before" (my emphasis), and it also seems incharitable to the person who asked the question first to have their question marked as a duplicate.

Howewer, the vote to close option all states that the question you are marking as the canonical question should already have been answered "This question has been asked before and has an answer" (which I interpret as requiring a good, complete, answer), so it seems I'm not supposed to mark the later question as the duplicate either. (And, indeed, this seems like it would be less helpful to future users: the later answer has more and better answers).

What's the best solution for this?

  • 3
    This is often discussed, and I usually prefer this response: meta.stackexchange.com/a/147651/270345
    – muru
    Feb 12, 2017 at 6:37
  • @muru. Thanks. I was hoping to achieve some kind of consensus for how our community wants to handle this. I've added answers below, so people can vote accordingly.
    – Rich
    Feb 15, 2017 at 10:40

4 Answers 4


Vote to close the old question as a duplicate

As muru points out this has been discussed on other Stack Exchange sites:

If the new question is a better question or has better answers, then vote to close the old one as a duplicate of the new one.

You can flag and ask a moderator to merge after closure if they're exactly the same.

This is the best answer for future readers, and Stack Exchange sites are designed to be repositories of knowledge, not just Q&A sites.

  • 2
    Note that mods also have the powers to merge the answers from two questions; so if two exact duplicates have different answers, then flag it for moderator attention asking to merge it Feb 15, 2017 at 10:50
  • @carpetsmoker What happens to the other question in the merge scenario?
    – Rich
    Feb 15, 2017 at 12:08
  • It stays, but with no answers. Feb 15, 2017 at 12:17
  • Here's an example btw: vi.stackexchange.com/questions/8932/… Feb 15, 2017 at 12:18
  • 1
    @Carpetsmoker In that case, I think it makes the most sense in my specific example for the answers from the newer question to be merged into the older question. I have flagged accordingly.
    – Rich
    Feb 15, 2017 at 14:18

Vote to close the least clearly written question as a duplicate

If the questions are exact duplicates so the answers can be merged, then the quality of the answers don't matter. Closing the question that's harder to understand or less clearly asks its question so the surviving question is more helpful for future readers.


Do nothing

Neither question fits the criteria for voting to close, so just leave them alone.


Vote to close the new question as a duplicate

The documentation clearly states that only newer questions should be marked as duplicates.

It's also unfair to the first user to have their question marked as a duplicate of something that did not exist when they asked their question and there is a (very small) chance that having their question closed could actually penalise the asker.

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