Recently I was looking through the close votes review queue when I came across this question, and it was flagged as a duplicate of this question. These two questions really are exact duplicates of each other. The problem is that the referenced question in the close vote is horrendous!

First of all, the accepted answer is a super judgy "It's none of your business", which is only true for that particular asker's situation. There are plenty of legitimate reasons I'd be interested in what's on a USB stick I found in the parking lot of my workplace.

Secondly, the rest of the answers -- all of them with upvotes, BTW -- are either snarky or do not provide enough detail to be useful. One that suggests there's no malware risk on a Mac is downright dangerous! In fact, the only answer that even remotely addresses the asker's question on a technical level has no votes at all on it. It is a genuinely terrible place to be directing people that have the same question.

The duplicate, however, is a better-asked question and has much better answers than the one it duplicates. I wound up editing the duplicate (to make the title a little clearer) and voted to close the referenced question as the duplicate.

My only issue is that now we have a question in the past that is marked as a duplicate of a question in the future. Was that the appropriate action? Should I be flagging the referenced question to close for another reason? It really adds nothing to the site as the whole thing is really an ethics question rather than a technical one.

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    I closed the older one as a duplicate of the newer one - which is not a problem if the the newer one has better answers.
    – DavidPostill Mod
    Commented May 5, 2017 at 22:02
  • Nothing prevents us from closing a question asked yesterday as a duplicate of a question asked today.
    – Ramhound
    Commented May 6, 2017 at 16:08
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    Besides answer quality, the newer question includes the issue of "killer USB drives", which the old one does not. That's a useful consideration for readers landing on one question or the other, a good reason to make the older question a duplicate of the newer one.
    – fixer1234
    Commented May 6, 2017 at 21:14
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    It’s worth noting that the new question was flagged as a duplicate of the old question by the author of the old question. Apparently he took the closing of his question as a personal affront; as a punch to the face. Commented May 11, 2017 at 22:47
  • So is your question essentially "should we endeavor to point toward the best quality duplicate available?" ...perhaps, even if that means going back and reversing previous closures? Commented May 12, 2017 at 13:40

2 Answers 2


As comments have noted, the criteria I would use when judging which of two otherwise duplicate questions to be marked duplicate is based on quality, not time.

If one of the questions is very recent and hasn't garnered any attention yet, AND the older question it is being marked duplicate of is low quality to the point where its answers are not correct, then explanation should be made in the newer question recognizing the previous question, but noting clearly how it or its answers failed to meet the needs laid out in the newer question. If the answers on the newer question then cover the newer question's needs as well as provide superior answers to the poor-quality older question, it may be advisable then to close the older question as the duplicate.

The end goal being that we want there to be one good question with (one) good answer(s) for each issue.


I answered this here: Should we post a duplicate when no answer given. Saying that different phrasings of questions can reach different listeners -- ESPECIALLY for questions that have remained open with no answers. The idea that different phrasing might frame a question in a way that attracts more answers isn't new -- marketing folk use it all the time by creating different ads for the same product.

Another way of seeing the phenomena is in how different polls that seem to ask the same thing, come out with radically different results -- it's all based on how they phrase the questions they ask.


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