Should this question which is clear and well received and be marked as duplicate to a poorly received closed question?

Could a mirror could be put in deep space to see ouselves in the past?

up vote 3 down vote accepted

While the questions clearly are not duplicates with any close reading (the first asks specifically about viewing reflections off of other planets as opposed to the use of a mirror) there is an important guideline regarding duplicate questions that is not being properly followed. This has happened with this question but it's not an isolated incident. I've seen similar errors made on other questions. My source for this guideline is this meta post as well as the prompts provided throughout the duplicate closure process.

Duplicate questions must have duplicate answers. When asking whether a question is a duplicate of another it is not sufficient for them to merely be very similar. When you vote to close a question as a dupe the prompt states: "This question has been asked before and already has an answer". In fact, if a question doesn't have an answer it isn't possible to use it as the target of a dupe closure. So, when asking whether a question is a duplicate of another one must look at the answers! Ask yourself, is this potentially duplicate question answered by the other question's answers? If not, then it isn't a duplicate. Counter-intuitive I know, but it makes sense if you think about why duplicate closure is there. It's not meant as an obstacle to prevent people from getting answers to their questions but rather to help them find answers that already exist and make it easier for future users to find all the relevant information in one place. If a question hasn't been answered on the site then it isn't a duplicate. With regards to this question, the answer to the older question does not answer this newer question. This is why Muze is here! Because they want an answer to their question which they do not have yet. Closure as a duplicate should never be an obstacle to getting an answer.

  • Actually, the guidance I've usually seen is to ask: would any complete answer to that other question also answer this one? The absence of good complete answers shouldn't block a duplicate, but if a complete answer to the other wouldn't necessarily answer this one, it's not a dupe. – Monica Cellio Sep 7 at 1:52
  • Obviously, @MonicaCellio is more well-versed in these matters than I am but I would say the wording of most of the messages around duplicate questions supports my interpretation. 1. When a question is marked as duplicate the header at the top of the closed question reads: "This question already has an answer here:" 2. When a user has the option to close their own question they are presented with a button that reads: "That solved my problem!" If the duplicate question has not been answered then those statements would be untrue and misleading. – Mike Nichols Sep 7 at 2:40
  • Mike, keep in mind that the SE framework was developed for StackOverflow, which is very, very objective. I've marked as duplicate questions that I felt were adequately answered by the answers for the "original" question, only to have the OP disagree. Ours is a more subjective site, so when you read "This question already has an answer here" you need to take it with a grain of salt. The voter may sincerely believe there is an answer, and the OP's disagreement may not invalidate that perception. – JBH Sep 7 at 19:11

I'm one of the commentors on your question and I'll take the time to expand on my comment. I'm bothered that your question was closed as a duplicate of another question that was itself closed as unclear.

That presuposes that your question is as unclear as the earlier question. Frankly, I'm not convinced the earlier question deserved to be closed as unclear.

But, to make my point clear: I don't believe any question should be closed as a duplicate of a previous "unclear" quesiton without justifying how the current question is both (a) about the same topic and (b) equally unclear.

Bear in mind, Muze, that I personally believe your question should remain a duplicate and the older question should be reopened. In other words, while this meta post is valuable for examining site practices, it might not result in your question being reopened.

  • 1
    +1 Agreed. Also, if the newer question is actually "clear", or is otherwise superior (more focused, plainer worldbuilding consequences, etc) to the older closed question, then, no, the newer query should not be closed. It should be left as is. – elemtilas Sep 6 at 2:33

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