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If a question is closed as duplicate, but other readers do not believe it to be so, what is the recommended course of action? Is it:

  1. Ask a question about that question on meta (like this)? Or,
  2. Flag the question for moderator attention? Or,
  3. Both? Or,
  4. None of the above?

If it is the last, what should be done instead?

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    In my experience, bringing the question to the attention of the community on Meta, and making a strong case for why it should be opened usually does the trick. Though asking on meta with an air of entitlement usually has the opposite effect (though I don't imagine you, personally, will fall into that trap). Flagging for mod attention is really only applicable when a single mod, or gold-tag-badge wielding user, has unilaterally dupe-hammered the question. We gone rally don't encourage mods to override community consensus on their own. – Dan Bron Aug 11 '15 at 0:09
  • (All that said, if you're asking about the "hangnail" question specifically, you may consider what you have to gain from its re-opening. You already have the green tick, and several upvotes, and the chance to earn an unlimited number more in the future, with no risk of competing answers being posted...) – Dan Bron Aug 11 '15 at 0:12
  • @DanBron: I haven't decided if I was going to take any action myself. I was looking at the comments and then wondered what would be a conscientious action. Would it benefit the ELU community generally to challenge incorrectly closed questions? – jxh Aug 11 '15 at 0:15
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    If the question truly is inappropriately closed, then yes reversing that decision is in the interest of the community (for one thing, we don't want to give current or future users irrelevant or wrong answers to questions; for another, we're trying to build StackExchange's neural net by teaching it what are the different ways of asking the same question). But the "inappropriate" part is critical: that's where the "making a strong case" in my initial comment comes in. Though I see in this case the question was closed unilaterally by one user with a dupe-hammer. – Dan Bron Aug 11 '15 at 0:18
  • @DanBron It does sometimes happen that someone votes to close a question as a duplicate of another, which it is very obviously not a duplicate of, and then four others kind of bandwagon on for no logical reason (same kind of domino effect that keeps the highest-scoring answer gaining upvotes and the lowest-scoring ones gaining downvotes, regardless of their actual merits). In cases like that, we do encourage mods to overrule community consensus on their own, though in those cases, it’s usually also clear to the majority of the community that the consensus was nonsensical. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Aug 16 '15 at 22:19
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I’ve gone ahead and reöpened the question for you because I could not see how the would-be duplicate could be considered such, and there was no explanation posted by the closer.

My feeling is that when you would like a closed question reöpened, it’s usually better to raise the matter on Meta, presenting a persuasive case for that action, than it is to flag the question for moderator attention.

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    Thanks, it wasn't my question, so I wasn't certain if this would be a case of MYOB. It seems strange to make a strong case for someone else's question, but it seems important for maintaining the community. – jxh Aug 11 '15 at 15:30
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    Just out of curiosity, why have you used "ö" instead of "o" in the word "reopened"? – Dog Lover Aug 12 '15 at 12:08
  • @DogLover Perhaps he is advocating a different pronunciation? – ZX9 Aug 12 '15 at 12:45
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    @DogLover It's a diaeresis, used to indicate that both vowels should be pronounced individually and found most famously in The New Yorker. – Ben W. Aug 12 '15 at 23:29
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    @DogLover To add to Ben W. (who sneaked in while I was editing) see this New Yorker column for details. – R.M. Aug 12 '15 at 23:34
  • @BenW.@R.M. Thank you for the explanation and link - I had never seen it used before :) – Dog Lover Aug 13 '15 at 1:14
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To add to tchrist’s answer, since the question is a general question about procedure...

You can (and probably should) edit the question to make clear why it’s not answered by the nominated duplicate.

I saw Question X which seems superficially similar, but all the answers there talk about hewages whereas this question is actually asking about flurbles.

You then need to expand on that in the text of the question itself to make it clear that you are asking about flurbles or whatever, adding examples too as they always help to strengthen a case.

But — especially if there are not already any answers — don’t simply add that (particularly after a subtitle “Edit:” since the history is available anyway). Change the question to make it clear what you are asking about, so that it cannot be a duplicate.

Once that’s done, ask a question on Meta as here, as that will get the greatest exposure. Questions which are edited after they have been closed do go into a review queue, too, which is another reason for editing.

If a question has been closed by a moderator vote then it can only be reopened by a moderator vote, but even then, raising on Meta — having made the question clearly not a duplicate — will allow others to comment and discuss whether it’s still a duplicate or not.

  • Thanks, great suggestions. Again, it wasn't my question, so some care is required when editing someone else's. But improving the clarity of the existing question should be possible, in theory, without radical changes to the original message. – jxh Aug 15 '15 at 22:50

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