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Recently a user asked Is "applying similar operations from left to right" a convention or a rule that forces us to mark one answer wrong? , which is a duplicate of 6/2*(1+2) is 1 or 9?; they both include the same photograph of two calculators giving different values for the same expression. When I tried to close the first one as a duplicate of the second, the software refused, saying “This closure would result in the 'duplicate of' navigation only leading in a circle”, which is untrue. The software is confused because the existing questions have a loop in the 'duplicate of' graph, and this is the loop that the software is detecting.

The problem here appears to be that at some time in the past, Willie Wong performed some sort of merge operation on Implicit multiplication order of operation, which is closed as a duplicate of What is 48÷2(9+3)?, which in turn is closed as a duplicate of Implicit multiplication order of operation .

If the software is going to forbid that users create loops in the "duplicate of" graph, it is a bug for it to behave the way it currently behaves, detecting an already-existing loop and erroneously ascribing it to my closure attempt. It should either

  1. forbid moderators from creating such loops, OR
  2. recognize that my closure vote is not making the situation any worse, and allow it.
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    $\begingroup$ Interesting. Question-A was closed as a duplicate of (and merged into) Question-B by Willie Wong on 2011-04-16, at which point Question-B was closed as NARQ. Question-B was re-opened and then later re-closed on 2012-07-28 by five users (this time as a duplicate of both Question-C and Question-A). It appears that the loop was not created by a ♦-mod, though I wonder if the merge played some part in confusing the system in the latter closure. $\endgroup$ – user642796 Mar 4 '14 at 15:48
  • $\begingroup$ I've re-opened Question-B, and re-closed it as a duplicate of Question-C only. Maybe the loop has been cut, but I couldn't say for certain: the system works in mysterious ways. $\endgroup$ – user642796 Mar 4 '14 at 15:54
  • $\begingroup$ Thanks; my vote to close has been recorded. $\endgroup$ – MJD Mar 4 '14 at 16:00
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    $\begingroup$ A graph with one cycle is sometimes called an octopus. The question asks for license to build tentacles. $\endgroup$ – zyx Mar 5 '14 at 0:28
  • $\begingroup$ That is strange: usually when A is already closed as a dupe of B, one cannot vote to close B as a dupe of A (except in strange race conditions). Even moderators are forbidden from creating such loops. Maybe a dev will see the bug tag and drop by to explain. $\endgroup$ – Willie Wong Mar 5 '14 at 9:32

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