The situation is the following: there are often questions where the querant is facing a very specific instance of a more general issue. For example:

Sometimes, such questions are then used to close additional, similar questions, because they are a "duplicate" (even though they are asking for a different context of the problem). And it may be more difficult for the querant to accept that their question is a duplicate, given that the other question is talking specifically about another situation.

In all these cases, one could create a general form of the question, and answer the underlying issue cleanly and neutrally, which would also make it easier to refer to it when additional instances of the problem are asked.

This general form would to a large extent have the same logic in its answers as some of the individual questions, but would that make the question itself a duplicate? That is, is it correct to close a question as a duplicate, only because it has the same answer as another question, even though the scope of the question is different?


1 Answer 1


We try to not deal in general questions

While there can be some utility in general questions, having a specific question is basically always gonna be better. They have clearer scope, can deal with the specifics, and is the actual problem someone is facing.

When we get into dupe closures, an A+X question should be closed as a dupe of B+X only when the equivalence between A and B is clear. If the querent has a reason to think they're different (even when it seems equivalent to us) we should reopen. Because the new question now has a specific, actual thing to address of whether that reason is correct or not, or even relevant. (Please encourage askers of dupes to add any such concerns to their question, should the marked dupe not give a satisfactory answer.)

We do have some very deliberate general questions. Typically to serve as signposts because it's something that comes up a lot and/or the dupe links are getting messy. These serve to reduce repetitions and/or give answers an easy (read here for more) for things that need it. High profile examples: If I multiclass into 2 or more spellcasting classes, how do I determine my known/prepared spells? and What does upper-case-A-Attack action vs. lower-case-a-attack mean?.

These often have the exact same problem with unsatisfactory dupe closures as the otherwise specific questions. Arguably slightly more as a question can be dupe marked even if the general target doesn't (and shouldn't) go into sufficient detail to answer some specific (sub)concern of the closed question. So the above with giving (or highlighting) a specific reason for it to be different applies all the same.

As a final note I'd like to remind that we close questions as dupes of other questions, and that while having the same answer would be an indicator, it is not the arbiter of that. And I'd like to point out that spells and class features include any number of different effects, and a general question would have a hard time covering all of that.

  • \$\begingroup\$ "If the querent has a reason to think they're different (even when it seems equivalent to us) we should reopen." I don't agree with this at all, since it is conditional. I still upvoted for the rest of the answer. \$\endgroup\$
    – Akixkisu
    May 25, 2022 at 18:34
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Akix So what's the non-conditional format? Or what's the alternative? All guidelines or ideas about when we should reopen a duplicate are, by requirement, if statements, and thus conditionals. I think I'm just missing something here \$\endgroup\$ May 25, 2022 at 18:57
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Exempt-Medic "a reason" sounds like literally any reason at all would be sufficient even if it is a terrible reason. \$\endgroup\$
    – Akixkisu
    May 25, 2022 at 19:03
  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ @Akixkisu I'd generally assume a reader to be reasonable. I'm not sure what kind of terrible reasons you're envisioning. I would say the above applies even if the reason is dead wrong, but I suppose I assume it's a good faith reason. I'm not wholly convinced that's worth adding \$\endgroup\$
    – Someone_Evil Mod
    May 25, 2022 at 19:21

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