First of all, I know this has been discussed already, and I know that the duplicates are listed at the top of the newer question. However, there are still two issues with how this is handled.

First, while the message at the bottom is quite definite, saying 'closed as exact duplicate' - implying that there is indeed an earlier question which is an EXACT duplicate of the newer question, the message at the top is less definite: it says only that the listed questions are 'Possible Duplicates'. This creates a disconnect in my mind (and presumably others) between the messages.

Second, making this disconnect worse is the fact that the two messages are physically widely separated. Worse still, they look very different: the more definitive message at the bottom seems clearly 'official', while the one at the top almost looks like some kind of user annotation.

How to fix this: I think it's a good idea to keep the two messages, but if the bottom one displayed a link to the question deemed as the EXACT duplicate, and the top one was less wishy-washy, the whole thing would be less confusing.

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    I agree with every point you've made here: I came here to ask the same question, with the same points and the same fix. I've had this happen to one of my posts and the possible duplicate is NOT an exact duplicate and I can't find the one that is. Commented Aug 7, 2012 at 9:47
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    I think links should always be in the same block as the "closed" frame. It's illogical and counter-intuitive to separate them. Do you believe me when I tell you I saw at least 5 questions closed for being duplicates, each time going through the page, looking for the link to the original question, and then complaining because it's not there? And that I needed to search meta for someone mistakingly claiming that most questions don't have a link to the original question to finally learn that the links are there? And I don't think I'm so blind that most people don't have any problem finding it.
    – Ariane
    Commented Jan 13, 2013 at 7:34

1 Answer 1


This is by design:

  1. For the owner of the question, it might be a possible duplicate as it might not answer him.

  2. The people close it because they think it is an exact duplicate.

However, I agree that it would be less confusing if they shared the same adjective.

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    @TomWij: thanks for that, but it doesn't really help. If there's an exact duplicate, why not link to it? If there are only possible duplicates, why say there's an exact duplicate? If you only want to tell the question owner that there are possible duplicates, why be so definitive as to CLOSE the question, appearing to punish the owner for posting an EXACT duplicate? Keep in mind that I'm not asking for much here, just some slight wording changes and the addition of a link that really should be there anyway.
    – boot13
    Commented Feb 6, 2011 at 21:39
  • @boot13: You might want to propose this at Meta StackOverflow instead, because this meta is specific to this site and that meta is more general towards all sites. The owner isn't punished as he is supposed to check those duplicate questions before asking his question. The link is in an obvious and clear position viewable on any normal screen resolution, it's highly unlikely that the user would have skipped that link... Commented Feb 6, 2011 at 22:42
  • @TomWij: Regarding Meta StackOverflow: agreed. However, saying that closing a duplicate question is not punishment because the owner should have known better makes no sense that I can see. Perhaps you meant something else? As for the link being in an obvious position, I assume you're referring to the 'possible duplicates' at the top? If so, then yes, that message is visible, but that still doesn't address my concerns. If there is an exact duplicate, it should be described that way, particularly if more than one link is listed, which often occurs in the message at the top.
    – boot13
    Commented Feb 7, 2011 at 1:18
  • @TomWij: I just noticed that you updated your original response to agree with my point about wording. Thanks for that!
    – boot13
    Commented Feb 7, 2011 at 1:20
  • @boot13: superuser.com/questions/how-to-ask Commented Feb 7, 2011 at 1:22
  • @boot13: I've edited nothing here, see the timeline. Commented Feb 7, 2011 at 1:23
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    @TomWij: Oh, then I guess I somehow missed the last line of your original answer in my original reading. In any case, thanks!
    – boot13
    Commented Feb 7, 2011 at 21:23
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    I agree with @boot13 that it feels like a punishment. It's embarrassing to have someone stamp "This user is incompetent" all over one of their posts. It's also irritating when it isn't true. Commented Aug 7, 2012 at 9:50

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