I understand there is a need to close duplicate answers, but shouldn't there be some clear instructions about what one can do to appeal? I'm not talking about the option to edit (which is clearly identified), I'm talking about the OP disputing that the question is a duplicate in the first case.

In this particular case, my question Is "walk on foot" acceptable? was deemed a duplicate of by foot vs on foot. My question has nothing to do with the correct preposition to use in this phrase; it is focused solely on the repetition of the ideas 'walk' + 'on foot', on whether its redundancy is acceptable in spoken language.

Now, surely, there must be other users who find it disconcerting that one's question is not only mis-read, but one is also forced to edit rather than give a chance to state your case. At least provide a link to a list of actions to take when edit is clearly not an option!

  • In this case case the closing is particularly disconcerting because the question has a number of old answers that understood the question the way it was intended. Perhaps a part of the blame should be put on the fact that the review queue displays the questions without their answers; this encourages the reviewers to vote without reading the answers, which often, as in this case, bring out the full meaning of the question.
    – jsw29
    Commented Dec 29, 2020 at 22:48

1 Answer 1


There are generally two courses of action possible.

  • If there are no answers which will be invalidated by an edit, then edit the question to make it clear exactly what you are asking about. You can phrase the question in such a way that it cannot be answered by the nominated duplicate. That is, don't say, "This question is not a duplicate of X because I'm asking about..." but instead just make it clear what it is that you are actually wanting to know. By doing that you will eliminate question X.

    This is the course of action recommended by the system: you should see an "Edit question" button in the duplicate-question banner.

    However, there's also Help on closed questions and specifically on duplicates. This even says "If you see a question and do not agree that it truly is a duplicate, edit it to highlight the differences, then try to get it reopened by casting a reopen vote."

    But, if there are already answers which are valid for the question as it's currently written (even though it may not be what you meant when you wrote it), it's bad form to invalidate them. A substantial edit may even be rolled back in that case.

  • If there are answers which would be invalidated by such an edit, but there are no answers which tell you what you want to know, then ask another question, making it clear exactly what it is you're asking about. You could even reference the first question, saying "I asked question X but didn't make myself clear..."

In the example you link to, the question isn't very clear. You know what you're asking about; but everyone else has only the words you write to go on; your thoughts don't travel well through the ether. The question could say that you're concerned about the redundancy of "on foot" when using the verb walk. You've added that in a comment, so presumably it was actually necessary to state it — it should have gone in the question.

An answer appeared 25 minutes after your question, which actually explains exactly what you wanted to know: on foot is indeed redundant. You've accepted the answer: it's answered the question you actually had (and not the one you wrote).

In this case, the duplicate is irrelevant. You asked a question and you have the answer you were looking for. In this case, the pointer to a duplicate is merely a "See also" for anyone who has a similar question.

It appears that the current duplicate was in fact suggested in November 2015, but failed to get the necessary votes in the required time. That it has come round again is suggestive that the question is not clear.

  • Thanks. The comment was in reaction to duplicate. At the time, no one seemed confused or asked for clarifications. Nevertheless, the link you provided in your answer should be provided as part of the information. If I hadn't known about meta, I'd have been extremely frustrated. Commented Dec 29, 2020 at 22:07
  • 1
    "That it has come round again is suggestive that the question is not clear." Which is indeed strange: why vote to close without dropping a comment pointing what doesn't seem clear? Like I said, at the time no one dropped comments asking for clarification. How would an OP become aware that some users find it unclear, if the only feedback one gets seems to indicate everything's fine? Commented Dec 29, 2020 at 22:09
  • Unfortunately, very often the only course of action (rather like when driving) is to trust no-one else's possible interpretations and make your own intentions crystal-clear. Simply adding a sentence to the question querying the potential redundancy of "on foot" won't invalidate the accepted answer and will invalidate the nomination of the duplicate. I'll remove that notice myself then.
    – Andrew Leach Mod
    Commented Dec 29, 2020 at 22:14
  • Yeah, well, at the time, I was still learning the ropes within the site. Having had no negative feedback, constructive or otherwise, told me the question was fine. I guess that is what riled me up so much: I've always tried to use feedback to improve and it really annoyed me going to the history and seeing all those votes to close - years ago! - when someone could have said something so the problem could be fixed. It feels like folks gossiping behind your back instead of talking to you. Anyway, I really appreciate your help, Andrew. Here's wishes of a great 2021 for you! Commented Dec 29, 2020 at 22:20
  • It is not quite true that closing the question as a duplicate (by those who understood it differently from the way it was intended) is 'irrelevant' when somebody managed, before the closing, to post an answer that interpreted the question the way it was intended. Somebody else may come to the page later, also interpret the question the way it was intended, and want to post a better answer—the closing makes that impossible and thus protects the posted answer from competition.
    – jsw29
    Commented Dec 29, 2020 at 22:55

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