This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question.

This seems to suggest that duplicate questions are fine as long as the first one doesn't answer everyone's question "fully"? Is this actually the rule we're to follow these days?

If so, what's the point of the bounty system again? :)

Example of the confusion:

Is there any way to fix an annoying Windows 10 UI design re: VPN connections?

I marked it as a possible duplicate of:

Windows 10 VPN Connect Button Cumbersome

User responds to "possible duplicate" marking in comments:

"Seems to be, yes. Although there was no solution to that question."

  • To me this is the single most frustrating aspect of SE. If the other question really did answer the question then can't we trust OP to voluntarily delete the new one? Also, this mostly happens because the OP wasn't asking the question the right way. Great! They found a new way to word an old question. Doesn't that help us with our search results (assuming others are asking the same 'wrong' question)? Also, don't answers ever become stale? Why not keep the new one and move the good answers over? Hint: it's because the new question really isn't the same question; more often it's only similar.
    – krowe
    Commented Aug 25, 2015 at 23:34
  • 5
    My suggestion, reword this to read: 'This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please modify the question in a way that will highlight the differences which you are experiencing.'
    – krowe
    Commented Aug 25, 2015 at 23:41

3 Answers 3


It seems as though some users on Stack Exchange are a bit trigger-happy when it comes to closing questions.  Somebody asks "How do I do X on Windows 10?", and it gets closed as a duplicate of "How do I do X on Windows 7?"  Or Solaris and Linux.  Or bash and zsh.  And the talking heads come out and say, "Well, it's the same question.  If those answers don't work for you, then tough.  Oh, but wait — you can burn 50 points of your reputation to bribe people into looking at your variant of the question."

If the asker of a new question can make a convincing case that "those answers don't work for me because ...", then that's a justification for not closing (or for reopening, if applicable) the new question.  After all, if the answers to Q1 don't answer Q2, then they aren't the same question.


Short Answer

  1. The blurb is basically good advice but the wording could be improved.
  2. This isn't what bounties are for.
  3. Don't be overly concerned about the dupe, yet. Think of it more in terms of "when" than "if".

Long Answer

The point of the bounty system:

  • Bounties are good for the author of the question when no good answers have been received.

  • Bounties are good when you find a question that has not received a good answer and it is already worded well to accurately describe what you, also, would like answered.

Usefulness of bounties

If an older question has been referenced as having the answer, it means it already has one or more answers that have been indicated as good, either by upvotes or being accepted. So that question, as asked, is already well answered. What would a bounty accomplish? Even if it produces more answers, they are likely to be similarly not helpful to you ("insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different outcome").

Applicability of bounties

Bounties are a tool that is available for people to use voluntarily to attract answers. It is not intended for shaking down questioners (Sorry, that's already been asked. If you don't like the answers and want to try to get more, pay a bounty).

When good answers aren't helpful

If the answers to the older question are decent but don't answer your question, it means there is something about your question that is different from the older question. Asking a new question doesn't mean re-asking a question that will also appear to be a duplicate. It means asking the question in a way that clearly differentiates it from the older one. The blurb should probably be revised to include a suggestion to re-ask the question in a way that clarifies the difference.

When the older question has poor answers (even if upvoted or accepted)

I've seen a lot of proposed duplicates with a promisingly similar title, even a well asked question, and answers that meet the minimum requirements that allow it to be used for this purpose. However, the answers aren't really useful and it isn't clear why they were upvoted or accepted. These shouldn't be proposed as possible duplicates. When they are, and the uselessness is identified, they should be withdrawn. The first priority is getting questions answered. That shouldn't take a back seat to housekeeping the duplicates.

When the older question is identical but lacks a useful solution

The example you cite is one of these. The OP verifies that the question is the same, but it doesn't offer a solution. Why would a duplicate question attract answers the original wouldn't? The answer to that is it doesn't matter. Consider three time frames:

  • The older question is more than, say, a year old, especially if there have been changes in the interim, like new software versions. There is a benefit to getting information updated. Asking the question anew will pull current information from fresh eyes. The result could be a conclusion that the older answers are still good.

    After the newer question has had time to run it's course (say a week), it can be re-evaluated. That's when knowledgeable decisions can be made on whether the question should remain on its own, be closed as a duplicate or merged, or even become the new standard due to better answers.

  • The older question is more than several weeks old. In this case, its active response period is passed. The question isn't going to attract more answers without some kind of action. If the older question can be improved and bumped, that's preferable to another identical question. But if there really isn't something to improve, and the question hasn't been fully answered, the new questioner deserves their moment in the sun.

    The question should be allowed to run its course, after which, action can be re-evaluated. If it has attracted no upvoted or accepted answers, the system will delete it after it's closed. If it does attract answers, they're answers we wouldn't have otherwise had.

  • The older question is also new. This is a special case of a special case, and I'd probably make an exception for this, especially if the older question is less than about three days old. If the older question is identical and still in the active response period, I would point this out to the new poster and suggest that they delete their question, at least temporarily. If no useful solution appears, they can undelete their question and edit it to clarify things relative to the older question.

    However, if they wanted to keep their question open, I would let them. A new user has certain benefits on their own thread, like the ability to ask for clarifications in comments, which they lack on someone else's question. After the question has run its course, we can do housekeeping on duplicates.

Duplicates are redundant clutter

Yes, they are. People looking for answers have a few extra posts to look at. But when they're trying to find a solution to their problem, they don't complain about redundant information. Dealing with duplicates shouldn't create obstacles to people asking questions and getting answers.

  • 1
    Ok so someone comes along and says "How do I do XYZ?" and we point them to another question that is "How do I do XYZ?" of equal quality, yet the answers that exist on that question are not that great. Is that not still a duplicate question? If it is, then the blub seems completely misleading. Commented Aug 25, 2015 at 13:02
  • 1
    "Bounties are good when you find a question that has not received a good answer and it is already worded well to accurately describe what you, also, would like answered." Often users can't/don't find the duplicates on their own, we have to point them out. When we do that, this information/suggestion is never conveyed to the user, instead they're told to just post a new question, and then they say "Well, I did". this is essentially the crux of my confusion. Commented Aug 25, 2015 at 13:07
  • Flip side of the issue: should the 1st person to ask a question have a permanent lock on the issue just because they asked 1st? It's better not to have redundant questions, but it's more important to attract a broader range of answers if we can. Sometimes minor wording changes can lead to a different line of answers. If a re-asked question turns out to be a true duplicate, it can be merged. But if someone looks at the existing answers and they aren't helpful, a bounty or tweaking the older question isn't likely to be fruitful for them. But it can help to focus and differentiate theirs.
    – fixer1234
    Commented Aug 25, 2015 at 16:11
  • 1
    Even in the case where they would ask the exact same question, if the original question is old, it has stopped attracting answers, and people shouldn't have to post a bounty to get an answer if the existing answers don't help. Let them re-ask the question and get some fresh eyes on it. Sometimes the old answers limit thinking and a blank slate can trigger new answers. We can always merge it later.
    – fixer1234
    Commented Aug 25, 2015 at 16:16

Rephrase the close reason to invite the user to provide information demonstrating why their question is not a duplicate, rather than confusingly suggesting that the best course of action is to create another question:

This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please edit your question to explain why it remains unanswered.

  • Or maybe it should be a combination; e.g., "... edit your question or ask a new question, clarifying how if differs from, and is not answered by, the existing one(s)."  Because, a new question has a chance of getting a few new answers right away, while reopening a closed question is a very iffy endeavor. Commented Aug 29, 2015 at 15:10

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