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Using this https://gis.stackexchange.com/questions/64363 as an example, it appears that when a question is closed as a duplicate, the asker is advised:

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.

But why is this always so? I thought that if the distinction between two questions was debatable then we would prefer them to improve their question through editing with a view to making it possible to re-open.


I revisited this Meta question on 23 September 2013 because QGIS 2.0 error when starting on Windows 8, recently closed as a duplicate, provided the same advice. I believe editing (to trigger consideration for re-opening) to improve the question should be offered as an alternative and preferred path to getting an answer in such cases.

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  • The closing system has just changed as of today. You might like to study its options and see whether your concerns have already been addressed. – whuber Jun 26 '13 at 4:29
  • @whuber I noticed the new closing options today and will try to come back to your comment after I've seen them in action for a few weeks. – PolyGeo Jun 26 '13 at 5:10
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When a question is marked as duplicate, the message that appears to the Original Poster (OP) is a different message that appears to everybody else.

See @Jaydles's answer here and @Rachel's answer here.

The OP gets the message encouraging to edit the question, so it can go to the reopen queue.

The argument they have used to support this feature is that just the OP would be able to explain why the question is not a dupe without changing its original purpose.
Other users might have the same question, but they will probably edit it based on a different need than the OP's.

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    Many thanks for the Meta SO links which I had not seen. – PolyGeo Sep 22 '13 at 23:59
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As the poster of the question referenced above, I woudl like to make a few points. You may have to read this through a few times to get the sequence of things clear, but I do think that it is important.

I made a mistake. I phrased my original question so that it could be answered by recommending an application. It was duly answered, I realized my mistake and awarded the answer then posted a second question explaining what I really want which is an Application Programming Interface to(API) allow me to develop my own application, not to use someone else's application.

As a software developer, I thought that the distinction was clear, but apparently not clear enough as my question was closed as an exact duplicate by a moderator. Oh, well, worse things happen at sea ;-) and I can't expect the moderator to understand some fine programming differences (although that "exact" duplicate has always annoyed me on all Stack Exchange sites; extremely few are "exact" duplicates).

So, now I have posted a third question, asking for an API, not an application (basically, a repeat of the 2nd question, with a plea not to close it).

The poster of this thread @PolyGeo has suggested that I edit the original question rather than post a new one, but I prefer not to because:

  • the original question, while not the one which I intended, is a valid question. Other people may come searching for it (it, apparently, was not a duplicate). It adds to the community's knowledge-base. Also, the person who answered deserves credit. If I edit the post and I then supposed to award the points to who ever gives the correct answer for the revised question?
  • the revised question (3rd post), for those who understand the software nuances is distinct enough to merit its own separate question. Some people with no interest at all in the first question could be very interested in this. To mix them woudl, I feel, muddy the waters. I also feel that I much less likely to recevie an answer if I do not start with a fresh question as those reading a revised question will be confused by the seeming contradiction between question and the answers already posted.

I think that addresses my particular question, but I don't claim to have an all encompassing answer to this question; indeed, I do not believe that one can be found. I think that the best that can be done are guidelines for moderators and users.

Thanks for great site, guys!

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    Not certain but I think I said or at least meant that it was the second question you should edit - the first was Answered & Accepted cleanly. – PolyGeo Jun 27 '13 at 2:50
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    I would like to suggest you consider the possibility that moderators might actually know what you are writing about. (Some of us have created APIs ourselves and have been doing so for decades on many systems :-). The principal problem I have had with your posts is that you appear to be going through a process of improving what is at bottom a single question by means of posting one, then two, then three closely related questions on our site. That's not how it's supposed to be done, although with the second question I appreciate that you did that out of respect for an existing answer. – whuber Jun 27 '13 at 16:49
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    +1 each and thankjs to both. PolyGeo, I misunderstodd you. yup, I agree, editing the 2nd question might have worked, if I coudl get it reopened. There seem to be active moderators here, so that coudl happen; it's not the sane on all SE sites. Whuber, I meant no disrespect; I am glad to hear that there are coders here as I am coder who occasionally uses GIS as oppsed to the other way round. Thansk again, both. – Mawg Jun 28 '13 at 2:19
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As @whuber said in his Comment to my Question, the Closing System has changed and I am very pleased to see that from reading The War of the Closes (which I highly recommend), it is now possible to close as a duplicate with wording that indicates the "editing to help get re-opened" option is possible.

marked as [duplicate] – this question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please edit this question to explain how it is different, or ask a new question.

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