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I haven't posted in about a year so please bare with me if I'm not following proper protocol. I asked a question yesterday and immediately it was flagged as a duplicate question. I commented below why I thought it wasn't and did not directly address the user that started the VTC process because of course it wasn't anything personal, I was just voicing a complaint with the system that I probably should have posted here instead. I feel it was taken as an insult though because my question was closed with only the originator of the VTC posting that I did have a point that there was no source stated it might have just been opinion.

The issues that I'm running into is, One: the quickness that my question was voted closed even with an explanation provided by me in comment that I didn't feel the answer given in the other question had reference to support its conclusion about the subject of my question.

Two: I feel this one is more important with a site this large and with the potential for any answer to cause a duplication of question it seems that eventually there can be no new questions on a specific subject such as horcruxes or boba fett et cetera. For instance I have another question I would like to ask on the subject that doesn't seem to have been asked before but while researching I found an answer that also for two sentences states an opinion that could cause my question to be marked as duplicate. I would just link and say "it was addressed in an answer to this question but I feel this is opinion not fact any sources" (which I probably will post it as that anyways) I feel my question would still be flagged and closed as duplicate even with making this careful effort.

So is there an existing line of "well it was stated as opinion rather than sourced so it shouldn't be counted the same as fact" or does there need to be one implemented?

  • I'm not sure what your core issue is. You would like provisions for questions that deliberately duplicate an existing question, because they don't believe the existing answers are good enough? – Avner Shahar-Kashtan Jun 5 '14 at 14:02
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    @AvnerShahar-Kashtan No. I don't know if you are confused or twisting this on purpose. Who would deliberately duplicate an existing question? It's either duplicated due to poor research or a sincere belief that the question is a new take on the subject or more clarification is needed. My core issue is with answers given to previous questions causing duplicate questions and specifically in a trivia SE like this one where opinions are often stated and given as answers. – Kevin Howell Jun 5 '14 at 14:12
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    a link to the question would be handy :) – Robotnik Jun 6 '14 at 0:27
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    Just to clarify - I specifically suggested that you post on meta about whether that specific question was a duplicate or not. This question (while valid :) was NOT what I was suggesting. – DVK-on-Ahch-To Jun 9 '14 at 15:46
  • @Robotnik Sorry I didn't want this question to be specifically about the question I had. Here is a link to it though scifi.stackexchange.com/questions/58633/… – Kevin Howell Jun 9 '14 at 18:48
  • For what it's worth, when I flagged as dupe, I put the link to the answer and not the question, but I think that the flagging process marks the question regardless. It would be great if we could specify which part of a question/answer we are talking about. And also, don't worry, the same way that I don't mean any offence when I flag questions, I don't take any offence to you objecting; it is the (legitimate) process! – Möoz Jun 11 '14 at 21:41
  • @KevinHowell There was recently a question that was an exact copy/paste of a different question (images and all). It's rare, but apparently happens... – Izkata Jun 12 '14 at 0:26
  • Of course the root problem here is allowing answers to enter into the equation when marking questions as duplicates. – Martha Jun 11 '15 at 17:21
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I understand the frustration when a question gets closed due to a duplicate which simply isn't good enough; an answer that, were it given to your own question, you would probably downvote, and certainly won't accept.

I don't, however, think that there needs to be any technical solution, or even a formal solution to avoid it. I think adding an explicit paragraph in your question saying "I saw the answer given to question X and I don't think it answers my question fully, and isn't well-sourced enough to count".

Having stated that clearly, you might still get closed as duplicate. In this case, though, it's because people explicitly disagree with you about that answer. And that's life, probably. :)

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First:

Questions get closed quickly so they don't accrue poor answers. When they're clarified, they get re-opened. That part of the process is working as intended.

If your question is closed as a duplicate and you don't feel you're looking for the same answer the previous question is, you can edit your question to be more clear and then it should be re-opened. Comments are for figuring out how to improve the question, and useful information gained thereby should be incorporated into the question itself. Perhaps "This was mentioned in passing by answer X [link] on question Y, but I want more information about it than would be appropriate in an answer to question Y."

Second:

The rule of thumb that duplicate questions are defined by having duplicate answers should not be stretched to include tangential information nonspecific to the question being asked. If that is happening, you should bring it to the attention of the moderators and/or site through flagging and/or meta posts with specific links to the question and an explanation of what's going on.

We also have precedent for a series of related questions: "Answer X to my question Y mentioned Z, can I get more info about it?" If this is the kind of chain you're concerned will get closed as duplicate... see the first section about how to make such connections clear and explicit.

And if you want better answers to an existing question, call attention to the question! Just because the querent accepted an answer you think is poor doesn't mean the question's life is over: offer a bounty and explain what kind of improvement in answers you're hoping to see. Good answers will float to the top through community voting, regardless of what got accepted.

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Flaggers
It is (should be) up to the flagger to research the duplication and make sure that their flag is valid. As you pointed out, it is definitely worth mentioning in the comments the exact reason or specific part of a question/answer which makes this one a dupe1.
It is also up to the flagger to not go around flagging everything. I have a fairly good flagging history for the short amount of time i've been here:

Mooz' Flagging History
so I hope mods don't just go "Oh, Mooz has flagged this, lets just accept it because he seems to know what he's doing"!

A Flagger must not be biased or show/take any offence. This is a community site, and only works (well) if used properly.

System
Incidentally, it is a limitation of the system that when you flag a question as a dupe, it doesn't care whether you post a link to a question or an answer within a question, it still posts the link to the question2.

Mods
It then falls in the lap of the mods to make sure that they know what they are doing, not just closing any old question just because someone has flagged it.
I like to think that the mods on this site are fairly good at what they do.

OP
The OP then needs has the opportunity to clarify or contest the question. Which in this case you did and for what it's worth, the answer which I linked does not seem to be satisfactory.
The OP can also edit their question to make it different enough to be re-opened; which you have done, and in my opinion, the question is now different enough!


1. I like this point and I will start to do this in future.
2. See: When I flag as dupe, can the system put the link to the answer and not the question?

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  1. Since I was the one who closed it, I'll address the speed issue.

    My judgement of whether it is a duplicate or not is 100% independent of time - only of information. If I think that the existing answer from another question answers a new question, waiting for 30 seconds or 30 days would NOT change that opinion. So, I closed quickly simply because I saw it quickly and because there was no reason to wait, not for any other reason.

  2. As noted my comment to you, if you think that it was NOT a duplicate, you should post a question on Meta asking whether it was or wasn't (not THIS question that you posted, but a separate question saying XYZ was closed as duplicate of ABC. I don't believe it's a duplicate because of reasons 1, 2, 3. Am I correct? It should be specific to your question, because there's usually some specific details that may sway people's decision.

    Since I'm human and prone to error, I'm perfectly happy to reverse my vote (or have it reversed by other Gold Tag binding voters, or mods, or 5 users) if people reach a consensus on that meta post that my VTC was in error.

    Gold Badge holders were given binding VTC votes due to their deep knowledge of content already on the site, NOT their perfect judgement :)

  • I understand and I know that you meant that I should post a question about whether that specific question was a duplicate. I hadn't gone through the editing process yet though and I prefer to do that first. Your reasons for closing are perfectly valid and you have the right and responsibility to do exactly what you did. It's not personal I know. You are a fair judge and trusted by the community. I don't care for the quickness it was closed but I understand the reasoning behind it. I have the same issue with other sites as well and felt meta was the best way to ask about it. – Kevin Howell Jun 9 '14 at 18:59
  • @KevinHowell - if you want to talk about the concept of "This answer answers things BUT with no reference - it should not be a duplicate" - which is what i THINK you tried to ask - I would suggest editing this question down to just that main point. As it is it's hard to dig to. – DVK-on-Ahch-To Jun 9 '14 at 19:06
  • A concept question of "This answer answers things BUT with no reference - it should not be a duplicate" is a great question that should be asked but it's not exactly what I was trying to ask with this question. I feel BESW answered this question well. Even though my question is what brought this up I don't feel it's specifically my question that this is an issue for but a common wall that many users find themselves running into. I could be wrong about that, but that's what is great about a community environment. It's a great system that works well in my opinion. – Kevin Howell Jun 9 '14 at 19:47

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