Questions that do not have an upvoted answer cannot be used (by non-moderators) to close other questions as a duplicate of. This is the error message I receive when I try to close a question as a duplicate of an unanswered question:

Screenshot of error message

I get a similar message when I try via the app:

Screenshot of error message on the app

This is somewhat problematic because it prevents users from closing a question even if it is identical to an earlier question. However, there is a simple way around this problem. Someone could post a dummy answer which will be deleted as soon as the other question is closed. As long as one person upvotes it it will allow the question to be used for duplicate closures. A dummy answer might be something like this:

This is a dummy answer posted for the sole purpose of allowing this question to be used for duplicate closures. As soon as the duplicate question is closed this answer will be deleted.

(If necessary you can perhaps request an upvote, either in the answer itself or in a comment thereto.)

Is this something that can/should be done?

Why or why not?

  • 5
    How often does this happen? I'd guess it's not a daily occurrence, and simply raising a mod flag asking us to dupe-close when you can't wouldn't overload our flag queue. (That's what I'd do on sites where I'm not a mod.)
    – Rand al'Thor Mod
    Commented Mar 18, 2019 at 18:21
  • @Randal'Thor I think today was the first time it happened to me on this site. Though I'm more interested in whether this would be "abuse" than if there is another method.
    – Alex
    Commented Mar 18, 2019 at 18:24
  • 2
    Posting fake answers and then getting your mates to upvote them so you can close questions you don't like? I fail to see how anyone could possibly see that as abuse.
    – Valorum
    Commented Mar 18, 2019 at 18:27
  • @Valorum Not "questions you don't like". Questions that are duplicates of earlier questions.
    – Alex
    Commented Mar 18, 2019 at 18:28
  • 1
    @Alex - The general rule of thumb is that if you're consorting with other users to trick the system into letting you do things that the system doesn't normally allow you to do, you probably shouldn't be doing them.
    – Valorum
    Commented Mar 18, 2019 at 18:48
  • @Valorum There could be a difference between different types of circumventions. In this case there is clearly no fundamental issue with a question being closed as a duplicate of an unanswered question, considering that moderators can do so. If I used up all my votes for the day I don’t think it would be consorting to “ask my mates” to vote to close.
    – Alex
    Commented Mar 18, 2019 at 19:03
  • Moderators can do a lot of things...yet abusing the system to be able to do so as a normal user too is still...abusing the system for precisely this reason. Yes, duplicate-closure not being possible for unanswered questions is somewhat crap, but...posting nonsense answers for weird reasons is...crapper, and by a huge margin so. The same way e.g. making sockpuppets for approving tag synonym suggestions isn't really the way to go, practical problems of the synonym community review process notwithstanding.
    – TARS
    Commented Mar 19, 2019 at 17:36

1 Answer 1


No, do not do this!

Doing anything to “trick” the system to do something you otherwise wouldn’t be able to do is always a big no no. Adding to that voting in this manner should be certainly frowned upon and is very likely against the rules.

The best course of action is to either:

  • Flag it for mod attention and explain that it is a duplicate but can’t be closed at present due to no answers on the target.

  • Answer either question, whichever is the better one, and then close to the one with an answer. However, do not ask for upvotes simply so you can close the other question. Users should vote for the content not for the user or the system.

On a side note I believe this question appears to be what inspired you to ask this. In this specific case the new question is now answered so you can always close the old question to the new question. Age should not matter much when closing, close for quality over age.

  • I think it's been known to happen with story-ID that we have duplicates without answers. On a side note, do gold tag badgers have the ability to dupehammer in the same way as mods in this circumstance?
    – Rand al'Thor Mod
    Commented Mar 18, 2019 at 19:35
  • I guess not seeing as Alex has the HP gold badge and I think that was the question he was trying to close. Although I think I’ve gold badge hammered a question that hasn’t been answered so I don’t know.
    – TheLethalCarrot Mod
    Commented Mar 18, 2019 at 19:36
  • @Randal'Thor Gold Badgers do not have the ability. Which is part of why this would be useful – I could then close it virtually instantly rather than having to wait for a moderator to be around.
    – Alex
    Commented Mar 18, 2019 at 20:02
  • Additional suggestion when you don't know/can't answer the question: post a comment "Dupe, but not yet answered: <link to another question>" on both questions, so when one of them gets answered, then the community knows about the dupe and can vote to close it.
    – Andrew T.
    Commented Mar 19, 2019 at 13:19

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