While I was going through the close review queue today, I saw that this question has been marked as a duplicate of this question from two months ago.

The old question does not have an accepted answer, (though it has one useful answer) and marking the new question as an duplicate of the old question will not be fruitful as probably no one will answer the old question, and this topic will go unanswered.

I would instead propose that the old question be marked as a duplicate of the new, or both of them merged if possible.

What should generally be done in a case like this?

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3 Answers 3

Regarding the question title:

Should we close Questions as duplicates of old, unanswered Questions?

It is not possible anymore to mark a question as a duplicate, without the older/original thread having an upvoted or accepted answer on it. See here.

2013-02-01: The "close as duplicate" process has been updated: the interface to search for duplicate questions has been improved, and users may no longer vote to close questions as duplicates of questions that do not have an upvoted or accepted answer

About choosing which question should be considered original and which ones should be duplicates when all of them have upvoted (or accepted) answers, refer to this GIS meta thread.

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This is welcome update to the site! –  Devdatta Tengshe May 29 at 12:32
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I think a Question should only ever be made a Duplicate of an earlier one.

I have a Systematic Zoology background and hence think of the original asker as being the discoverer or at least first publisher of the problem. Akin to a species, the problem is described and the Question that first does this is akin to its Holotype. When later questions are determined to be the same I recommend they are synonymized with (i.e. made Duplicates of) the original because that has Precedence.

Also, my understanding is that the act of editing the original question brings it back to everyone's attention so rather than proceed with the new instance it would be better to enhance the original to get it to or towards a cleaner Question and Answer format.

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While I understand where you are coming from, I strongly disagree with the notion that the older question is in someway important, better or more canonical, for the following reasons: 1)With the fast changing state of Technology and Applications, workflows change. What was not possible earlier, is possible now, and vice versa. 2) The OP of the first question might have moved on and no longer interested in the question. –  Devdatta Tengshe Feb 12 '13 at 8:53
    
For 1) it would seem making it a Duplicate is probably not appropriate so perhaps we should be discussing how to undo assignment as a Duplicate. It is 2) that worries me more and is what led me to this Meta Question –  PolyGeo Feb 12 '13 at 11:51
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This is how it should be done unless the newer question has specific, relevant information that distinguishes it from the older question -- but in that case it's no longer a duplicate is it? In this case, closing the newer one as a duplicate of the older one looks like the appropriate action to me. Trimble Pathfinder Office isn't exactly a quickly-evolving piece of software, nor is its format an open specification, so the likelihood of some free software being able to read it in the future is low. –  blah238 Apr 1 at 3:02
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I think merging will be the good idea instead of closing the question.

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I see no point to merging these threads because the answer to the apparent duplicate adds no information not already present in the original. –  whuber Feb 11 '13 at 16:46
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