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Are there certain circumstances where one should close an old question as the duplicate of a new one (for instance if the new one is better and actually has answers)? And if not, then why does the system allow you to do this?

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Absolutely. The age of a question is completely irrelevant when choosing duplicates. What we want is the best, most comprehensive and inclusive answer. If a question asked today has better answers than one asked four years ago, we should close the old one in favor of the new.

People often think that the age of the question should somehow be a factor when choosing which to close as a dupe of which, but it isn't and it shouldn't. We're writing for the ages here, each question and answer posted is supposed to help future visitors, and why would a user coming to the site in 2045 care whether something was posted in 2011 or 2015?

Just always vote to close in favor of the best/clearest question with the best answers.

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    It seems a bit strange that quality of answers determines which question deserves to stay open. If I took the time to ask a clear, thoughtful question and it gets closed in favor of a lower quality version (that was asked 4 years later, by someone who apparently doesn't take the time to search before posting), just because they happened to get a better answer, I can't say I'd be happy about that. – Michael Martin-Smucker Oct 2 '15 at 20:10
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    @MichaelMartin-Smucker you should be. When you ask a question here, you don't "own" the question and it is not only for your benefit. Posts on the SE network aim to be a useful repository of information for the next person who has that question as well. Having your question closed is no attack on you, it causes you no harm, no reputation is lost, no nothing. The only reason questions are closed is to keep the site clean and organized. So, if your question is closed in favor of a newer one with better answers, the only change is that you now have better answers. Why should it bother you? – terdon Oct 2 '15 at 20:14
  • You might not be losing existing reputation, but if it's a popular question, you're losing lots of potential future reputation if your question is closed (while the person who didn't bother to use the site search is now gaining that reputation). If the questions truly are duplicates, isn't it more appropriate the close the newer question and merge the answers into the older question? – Michael Martin-Smucker Oct 3 '15 at 23:19
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    @MichaelMartin-Smucker first of all, if it's a popular question, it will already have the good answers so that's not really relevant. That said, yes, if your old question is better but went unnoticed and a new one, despite being a worse question, got the good answers, then of course the old should be closed in favor of the new. The rep is just to have fun, it's not the site's objective and if you'd rather gain rep than improve the experience of future users, this might not be the site for you. Yes, question can be merged, but that takes a mod and is not always simple to do. – terdon Oct 4 '15 at 18:24
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The obvious one: newer question has better quality answers than the old one. Is this even a real question?

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    I voted some questions regarding Atheros 0041 module. All old answers said that this module was not supported by the kernel. Now there is a new question with a working answer how to enable this module in Ubuntu. I awarded a bounty to the person who gave this answer and voted to close old questions as duplicates of the new one. – Pilot6 Sep 29 '15 at 21:38

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