So yesterday I came across a question (we'll call it Question $1$) which I found interesting, and after having spent a little time thinking about it without result, I started searching MSE for some related results which would hopefully help. After some deeper digging, I found a question (nickname: Question $2$) dealing with the same exact problem.
It was obvious why Question $2$ was difficult to find - it was imbedded into an image and hence not searchable by text, it had a vague title, few tags and little context in general.
To help the OP and anyone else trying to solve the problem, I decided to post the link to in the comments of Question $1$, with the caveat that this is probably not what they hoped for as an answer. Indeed, the answer to Question $2$ was nowhere close to what I (and the poster of Question $1$) were attempting. Since Question $1$ was also asking for a check of their attempt, I was certain that there was not a chance of Question $1$ being a duplicate of Question $2$.
However, I almost immediately regretted my decision to post the link to Question $2$. Why, you ask? Well:
- Another user quickly caught on and posted a (now deleted) comment asking the OP does the link to Question $2$ answer their question.
- The OP said nothing.
- $12$ hours later, the question is closed as a duplicate and does not accept new answers.
- I'm fairly certain the OP will not find the answer to Question $2$ satisfactory. In any case, a part of Question $1$ regarding a specific attempt remains (and will remain) unanswered.
- The closure disincentivizes other people to look for alternative solutions to OP's question which will be more in line with OP's attempts. Even if such solutions are found, they cannot be posted as answers.
- To add to my regret, according to my explanation above, I don't think it is unreasonable to assume that Question $2$ would not have been found for some time (or maybe ever) had I not posted the link, and this would have maybe allowed someone to adequately answer Question $1$ in the meantime. So in essence I have scored the winning goal for the opposing team.
We don't have to venture into questioning the motivations of the users which closed the question - for the purposes of my question we can assume that they were simply enforcing a network-wide policy in good faith, but in doing so made a decision which perhaps isn't ideal.
My question is: posting the link to Question $2$ turned out to be, in my opinion, a net negative for the OP, myself and anyone else wanting to see Question $1$ answered adequately. Next time this happens, should I post the link? If so, why? Ideally, I would let the OP know about this other question but by doing so I don't want to expose their question to the possibility of some unwarranted impetuous closure.
Please, do not turn this into a discussion of whether the answer to Question $2$ answers Question $1$. The only certainty is that we cannot know until the OP can speak out (if they are not already intimidated by their question having been closed). In any case, it is irrelevant what we think about it, this decision should be with the OP alone.