6
$\begingroup$

Few times I've faced the following dilemma:

To vote for closing a poor question as off-topic or as a duplicate of another one (sometimes equally poor)?

The last example is this: https://math.stackexchange.com/questions/1703093/a-question-on-rings-csir-net-dec-2012?noredirect=1.

Every time I've opted for closing it as a duplicate, but this is in some sense a present for the OP, pointing him out where can find a solution without any effort. I'm not sure if I've done the right thing. Other opinions?

| |
$\endgroup$
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ "But this is in some sense a present for the OP, pointing him out where can find a solution without any effort". Who cares about the OP? $\endgroup$ – user258700 Mar 18 '16 at 21:27
  • 4
    $\begingroup$ @AhmedHussein I do. $\endgroup$ – user26857 Mar 18 '16 at 21:28
  • 7
    $\begingroup$ A point to keep in mind is that dupe-closed questions are exempt from auto-delete. $\endgroup$ – quid Mar 18 '16 at 21:28
  • $\begingroup$ @quid I see. Thanks. $\endgroup$ – user26857 Mar 18 '16 at 21:30
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ This is a dilemma, and if there are already two or three duplicates I usually decide that the cat is already out of the bag and dupe it. But if it were a repeat offender I might eventually decide off topic votes. Didn't know about the point quid raised! $\endgroup$ – rschwieb Mar 19 '16 at 15:07
  • 4
    $\begingroup$ It seems to me that if you vote to close as off-topic, you are giving the user false hope that if the question is improved it will be reopened and remain open, when in fact if the user improves the post it will then be closed as a duplicate. What's the point of encouraging the user to improve the question, when it's going to get closed anyway? $\endgroup$ – Gerry Myerson Aug 25 '19 at 22:51
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ @GerryMyerson I have a somewhat opposite perception: if a question is closed as a duplicate, it seems to me that this sends the signal that the question was well-posed, but it happens to have an answer elsewhere. What we really need is a "This question has been closed because it is ill-posed (lacking context, whatever). It also happens to be a duplicate, here is your answer: ..." $\endgroup$ – Xander Henderson Aug 27 '19 at 13:08
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ As I see it, if a question is closed for lacking context, the user may improve the question, and have it subsequently closed as a duplicate. At that point, the question likely won't be deleted, because a well-posed duplication helps the database (so the argument goes). On the other hand, if the question is closed as a duplicate, then the user has no reason to attempt to improve it, and it will ultimately be deleted. $\endgroup$ – Xander Henderson Aug 27 '19 at 13:10
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ That is a fair point @Gerry. Whenever applicable I vote to close a question for lacking context or whatnot, and also point at a duplicate or a near duplicate in another comment. I have mixed feelings about this. Having the answers to a duplicate to work with, the incentive to improve the current question goes down. Other considerations are 1) closing as a duplicate often (but not always) causes less friction, 2) using a dupehammer to close (when available) is quicker, and thus more efficient at stopping dupe answers. $\endgroup$ – Jyrki Lahtonen Aug 28 '19 at 10:48
5
$\begingroup$

I had the same doubt today, concerning this question. In the end, I decided to vote to close it as a duplicate. But now I think that the only case in which it would be useful as a duplicate was if the title of the question was a good title, as far as searches are concerned. In this case, it is not. I suppose that, in the future, my option will be to vote to close it as off-topic.

| |
$\endgroup$
5
$\begingroup$

I am promoting my comments to an answer, as this came up again in CURED again today.

My flowchart is as follows:

  1. Is the question of sufficient quality to keep on the site?

    • Yes. Go to step 2.

    • No. If a question is of low-quality, then vote-to-close for lack of quality (e.g. vote one of "needs context", "unclear", "too broad", etc). If a question is not of sufficient quality, then it should not be on the site. Closing for some reason other than duplication is a first step. Go to step 2.

  2. Is the question a duplicate?

    • Yes. Provide a link to a dupe target in the comments. If I have already voted to close for quality reasons, this is done manually. Otherwise, I vote to close the question as a duplicate, and the comment is automatically generated.

    • No. Excellent! No action required.

  3. If I voted to close the question for quality, but it was a duplicate, I will often revisit the question a week later to see if it has been improved (I use a userscript which automates this process). If the question has been improved, I will happily vote to reopen it, then suggest in CURED that it be reclosed as a duplicate (I cannot vote myself at this point, because the software makes it impossible to vote-to-close any particular question more than once per some unit of time).

    I will note that it is rare for a low-quality duplicate to be improved into a question which can be reopened then closed as a duplicate. More often than not, the asker finds their answer and abandons the question.

My reasoning is that dupe-closed questions are not (generally speaking) automatically deleted. If a question is closed as a duplicate, it can be automatically deleted after a year, assuming that it collects no answers, comments, or net upvotes. Questions which are closed for reasons of quality are automatically deleted more easily.

| |
$\endgroup$

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .