The question 76491: Does this question even have an answer? was, of course, hugely popular in MSE. In that post, it was pointed out the OP had copied the question wrong, and that the option (c.) in the multiple choice question must have been 60%.

Since then, our site has been flooded with the same question, but with option (c.) being 60% (as was originally intended by the creator of the question); see the posts 76656, 76681, 76826, 77408 and 77849 (the last one appeared today). And we have been consistently closing these questions as a duplicate of 76491.

But given that

  1. the first question differs from the purported duplicates in one of the options, and

  2. the correct answer to the question seems to depend crucially on the options,

is it correct to regard these later questions as exact duplicates?

I am posting this question here partly on the behalf of the user @idonno, the OP for the post 77849, who seemed confused about the votes to close his/her question as a duplicate.* Here are my reasons for raising the issue at meta:

  1. I want to bring this to the community's attention, and

  2. I feel that others can give a more convincing explanation for the closure.

**Full disclosure:* I cast the first vote to close, but I was essentially following the precedent set already. In any case, it would be unfair to keep today's question open while closing the earlier ones as duplicates.

  • 4
    $\begingroup$ For what it's worth, following J.M.'s suggestion in chat, I have extended my answer to 76491 such that it also discusses the 60% variant. That might make it less inappropriate to close the duplicates as duplicates. One could still think the 60% variant deserves its own question nevertheless. $\endgroup$ Nov 1, 2011 at 15:24
  • 5
    $\begingroup$ Yikes, tis like the Batman equation, or the $X\div Y \times Z$ question again... $\endgroup$ Nov 1, 2011 at 15:31
  • $\begingroup$ @Willie, what is "the $X \div Y\times Z$ question"? There isn't anything in the top-questions-by-votes list that looks immediately like it might be it. $\endgroup$ Nov 1, 2011 at 15:53
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    $\begingroup$ @Henning There was once a string of questions all of the form: "what is the correct answer of $6 \div 3\times 2$? Is it 1 or 4?" with appropriate substitutions of the numbers. Most of them were closed as duplicates, and none of the few that survived got high enough votes to really cause a blip on the radar (for obvious reasons). I mention it because it is another instance of questions spreading to here from social networks, with many "clever guys" thinking that they are the first to post it to Math.SE, and not because one instance of the question actually gets many votes and views. $\endgroup$ Nov 1, 2011 at 15:57

1 Answer 1


Given Henning's exhaustive answer (including both the 0 and 60% cases), I think it is fair to close the questions as not only abstract, but exact duplicates.

  • 4
    $\begingroup$ It should be closed as a porism. $\endgroup$
    – Phira
    Nov 1, 2011 at 20:04

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