I think this has already been discussed somewhere, but I can't find where.

As an example, this question was closed as a duplicate of this question. But the duplicate question was already been put on hold. I don't have a problem with the question(s) being closed/put on hold. (I think they would be a better fit for matheducators.SE.)

But, as a principle, I think it is wrong to close a question as a duplicate of another question that is already been put on hold/closed, so I would suggest that we don't do that. I know that this might seem a bit pedantic, but I believe that we should try to pick the correct reasons for closing.

What say the community?

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ The second question mentioned above is not closed but put on hold (...pedantism$^{2}$). $\endgroup$
    – Did
    Nov 29, 2014 at 14:33
  • $\begingroup$ @Did: Alright... $\endgroup$
    – Thomas
    Nov 29, 2014 at 14:42
  • $\begingroup$ Building closed loops of closed duplicate (in particular unanswered) questions is inconsistent, their behavior is not predictable. $\endgroup$
    – Dilaton
    Nov 29, 2014 at 14:52
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ @Dilaton Question A cannot be closed as a duplicate of Question B unless B has an upvoted or accepted answer. And there is a check against forming closed loops, too. $\endgroup$
    – user147263
    Nov 30, 2014 at 0:35
  • $\begingroup$ I feel bad now because I voted to close as duplicate when there were 2 duplicate votes and 2 "too broad" votes $\endgroup$ Nov 30, 2014 at 9:10
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @Did: It is (and was) closed. "On hold" is an artifact of the display logic -- a question which is closed for less than a certain time will be described as "on hold", after that time the description changes to "closed". But the status has not changed. $\endgroup$
    – Ben Voigt
    Dec 3, 2014 at 7:38
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Occasionally it might even happen that the duplicate link links to a deleted post or that there is a loop between duplicates. See What should I do when I find circularity among duplicates? and Duplicate of a deleted question. $\endgroup$ Dec 29, 2014 at 21:16

1 Answer 1


In the specific question, I agree: closing as Too Broad would be better. If the question is edited, the case for reopening should be based on whether or not the author managed to "add details to narrow the answer set", not on whether it is now sufficiently distinct from another Too Broad question. (I think I voted as too broad, but I may be wrong; in any case, the majority reason is the only one displayed.)

However, there are cases when it is appropriate to close as a duplicate of another closed question.

Double posts by the same author

Often, the closing reason from the first copy can still be used for the second. But what if the author than fixes both versions and they no longer qualify for that reason? Both will be reviewed independently by Reopen reviewers, and probably reopened. Then the answers get split between the copies, until someone recognizes duplication and votes to close again...

Even when the second copy of a double post is not as bad as the first one, it is still a duplicate and should be closed. Users should be editing their on-hold questions, not asking them again. If the moderators were not already overworked, I would suggest a nuclear solution to double posts: one-click deletion of the second copy.

Exact duplicates closed as a abstract duplicate

Someone asks for a solution of $x^5-1=0$. There is already an answered question A about $x^5-1=0$, closed as an abstract duplicate of question B about $x^n-1=0$. In this case, I would vote to close as a duplicate of question A, since it is a closer match. The user is free to follow duplicate banner to question B from there, if the answers to A were not sufficient for any reason.


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