Not sure if this is an answerable question, to be honest. It would be quite difficult to draw a line here, but I was wondering how flexible should we be about duplicated questions.

Answers can vary depending on time, who was online at the moment the question was asked, or how long did it take for the OP to choose a correct answer (short time = less answers). So even if two of them ask the same thing, maybe the answers are different. Most of us don't add answers to already resolved questions, unless we come across them and happen to remember the source, etc.

More questions means more chances of appearing in the first positions of search results. Should we somehow agree on when to close a question as duplicate? For example, say, when a duplicated question has more than 4 positive votes, or more than 3 answers (that by the way improve our beta stats), leave it open, or something like that. Not set in stone, of course.

Example: Can I take images from Google image search as a base for my creations? vs Derivative work? . It would be a shame to close questions with so many votes, that give the (correct) impression of a site that is alive and evolving.

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The funny thing about that question is, (I'd argue) the best answer to it is an answer to a question which it is totally not a duplicate of. –  user568458 Dec 20 '12 at 16:39
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2 Answers 2

up vote 2 down vote accepted

I think there's some SEO value to some duplicates. Your example is a perfect showing of that. SEO will use both questions and not see them as identical (Although I just edited the title of the second to be more descriptive).

If there's a specific aspect of a duplicate that is not mentioned in the original I think there's value. If the question and answers are pretty much identical in all aspects, I thin they should be closed, and votes removed is warranted.

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In addition to the search engines, there is user navigation to keep in mind. When there is a unique perspective in the question, the title and phrasing are likely to pop up in some searches and not others.

Having duplicate questions makes it more likely that people will find what they're after. Cross-linking will help us develop a broader set of answers that are more accessible to a wide audience.

So my perspective is, if there is something unique enough about the source or end use of the question, keep the dupes open even if they result in essentially the same answer.

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