I don't think that duplicates should be closed if the questions are different enough where the resulting answers and discussion will be different.

The reason for closing is marked as "Exact duplicate". Not similar or very close, but exact. All too often questions are closed just because the title will be very similar, when the questions themselves are in no way exact.

An example may be that I recently asked about the gender pay gap, asking not if it exists but asking asking about the evidence that leads people to believe it does exist.

I was linked to this question which my question was considered an exact duplicate of.

Except that the questions are in no way an exact duplicate, with the first questions asking if something is true, and my questions wanting to examine the evidence and see if the conclusion that x is true is valid. Asking why is often different from asking if.

Jeff Atwood already advocated duplicates being left open when the questions or resulting discussion are different enough, which is something that makes a lot of sense.

Why on earth should the policy be different on the Skeptics site?

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    I honestly don't see the difference: the same answers are valid on both questions--they are asking the same thing IMHO. – Sklivvz Jun 14 '11 at 20:34
  • @Sklivvz A discussion of the evidence is different from asking what the evidence is -- Example is climate change real? Vs How reliable is the evidence for climate change being accepted as real? – Sonny Ordell Jun 14 '11 at 22:41
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    @Sonny: Somewhere else may care more about the distinction but any answer here that doesn't have reliable evidence wouldn't even qualify as an appropriate answer. – MrHen Jun 14 '11 at 23:01
  • @MrHen, in the example I gave there are major differences. The original question asks about the entire group of working women compared to the entire group of working men, without regard to jobs, skills or experience. The answers then rely on opinion pieces from the Economist and similar magazines, whcih I would not class as relibale evidence. I am not asking about the entire set of men or women working, but men and women in specific jobs with similar experience and skills. I am then specifically asking for data(not opinion pieces) posts anti-discrimination laws. – Sonny Ordell Jun 14 '11 at 23:06
  • The questions are most certainly different in what they are asking and what they are trying to establish as well as what answers they can accept as relevant. You only have to look at the answers to the other question to see they are not suitable answers for my question. – Sonny Ordell Jun 14 '11 at 23:07
  • Yeah. That's what the other question was asking: "Is there a difference in wages between men and women in first world countries that is not due to factors relevant to the job?" – MrHen Jun 14 '11 at 23:11
  • @MrHen the other question is grouping the entire set of working women and comparing it to the entire set of working men. That is not what my question is doing, and I an asking for actual studied, not magazine articles. – Sonny Ordell Jun 14 '11 at 23:45

Don't get hung up on the word "exact". The point is to close questions to condense answers into one relevant place. If two questions get the same answers, it is highly likely that one of the questions was unnecessary. The purpose of the closing isn't to punish you but to help future visitors.

This probably deserves to be more heavily regulated (read as:more closing) during Beta since we need to keep the site growing with good growth that keeps people interested and returning. Multiples of questions with only slight differences is boring.

But I tend to be pretty strict with regards to closing things, so other opinions will vary.

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  • @MrHen the word exact is there for a reason. Similar questions should not be closed as they foster very different answers and discussions, or at least can. Denying such discussions does nothing to help future visitors. – Sonny Ordell Jun 14 '11 at 22:42
  • @Sonny: The word exact probably is there for a reason, but the point I was making is still valid. Similar questions don't foster very different answers and discussions as much as different questions foster very different answers and discussions. Don't try to use the word exact to get out of a duplicate. Ask a better (more unique) question. Sometimes all that entails is pointing out very clearly why your question is different enough to matter. (Of note: The system automatically adds exact. The voters don't get a choice in the wording.) – MrHen Jun 14 '11 at 23:00
  • The word exact is there and should be followed, or a new reason for closing should be created. There is nothing inherently wrong with a similar question and a similar discussion if it is in a different direction, and the attitude that there is should be revisited. – Sonny Ordell Jun 14 '11 at 23:46
  • Ugh. Look, I would have voted to close even if I thought the word exact was the law (which it isn't). Your question is a duplicate. – MrHen Jun 15 '11 at 2:52
  • @MrHen, I am asking a different question. If that isn't clear to you, then please suggest how I can phrase my question to make that clear. Discussing the evidence for a specific claim is different from asking if a general claim is valid or not. If the mods on this site can't see that, then this won't be much of a community. – Sonny Ordell Jun 15 '11 at 3:09
  • I will also point out this question skeptics.stackexchange.com/questions/4265/… which was not considered a dupe, as I was asking about the evidence in a particular way, not the general issue. Specifics vs generalizations. – Sonny Ordell Jun 15 '11 at 14:00

Asking why is often different from asking if.

Not enough of a difference.

Jeff Atwood already advocated duplicates being left open when the questions or resulting discussion are different enough, which is something that makes a lot of sense.

If you want to post a question that's similar to one or more previous questions, then you should know/admit that it's similar to an existing question, and explicitly state the reason why the existing question/answers fail to answer your new question.

See for example my comment at https://bicycles.stackexchange.com/q/2767/1097 to which a mod decided, "This question is a good variation on the existing [...] questions, in that [...]".

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  • alas sometimes the mods are blind. My question asking about the evidence for the 10% brain myth was not considered a dupe of the question asking if we ask 10% of our brain, but the exact question applied to the gender pay divide is. How in the world does that make sense. – Sonny Ordell Jun 15 '11 at 13:59

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