Long story short. Today I received a message that a question I asked two years and six months ago was closed as a duplicate of another question that was asked four months later. I had previously assumed that whichever question came second was closed however this incident has me confused. What is the criteria for determining which question stays open and which question is closed?
We sometimes close the question that was asked first.
Others have suggested this be closed as a duplicate, but since I was the one that closed your question, I can provide a bit more insight. Our duplicate closure criteria are found here: If an answer to question A can be found in question B, should we close A as duplicate of B? In this Q&A, Doppelgreener provides a brief discussion about timing:
On timing: We prefer closing newer questions as a dupe of the older question unless there's a major quality benefit the other way around. Some examples of when there's such a quality benefit:
- The older one isn't answered (or has bad answers), and the new one has good answers.
- The newer question is flat-out better written, easier to follow, and generally more useful for anyone interested in that line of inquiry. Answers to it are equal or better ("both have no answers" is equal).
- This typically occurs when we establish a high-quality canonical question to handle a subject straightforwardly that's previously been handled messily in various earlier questions.
I personally judged the more generally framed question to be the more generally useful one, and so I opted to close your question as the dupe, despite it being asked first. Both questions are well written, with well written answers, I just felt that the more general framing made for a better dupe target.
That said, I did act unilaterally and don’t really have any skin in the game. If others think we should swap these around that’s fine.