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Recently one of my questions have been marked as a duplicate:

I believe this question has been mistakenly marked as a duplicate because the question they refered to that I "copied" from as a duplicate is not even close to a duplicate. What should I do?

migrated from askubuntu.com Jul 26 '17 at 2:35

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  • The accepted answer on the linked duplicate already contains exactly what your original question asks, and contains exactly the same material that the answer you accepted in your question (and that answer mostly quotes bash manual anyway, which isn't much help to new users, while answer on linked duplicate is very detailed explanation). The difference also lies in the order in which those files are sourced, hence the question was closed as duplicate properly. – Sergiy Kolodyazhnyy Jul 26 '17 at 1:55
  • @EliahKagan thank you very much, nice to know every once in a while someone is on your side. – NerdOfCode Jul 26 '17 at 2:22
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the question they refered to that I "copied" from as a duplicate is not even close to a duplicate

When we close questions as duplicates, we don't actually mean the text of the question is the same or even that all pertinent details are the same. We do mean that they are, in effect, asking the same thing, or for something that is contained in the other question, or at least that the question being closed is answered at the question we dupe it to. We definitely do not mean that you copied any text, nor does your question's duplicate status constitute an accusation of that. Occasionally people post questions with the very same text as some previous question, but those constitute an exceedingly tiny minority of questions considered "duplicates" on this site.

As Sergiy Kolodyazhnyy says, the answer you accepted is very similar, in terms of the information it presents, to the answer on the question it was closed as a duplicate of. I don't think it was altogether unreasonable for it to have been made a duplicate, based on your having accepted that answer. Still, there are some major differences and I suspect that your question ought to either (1) remain open, or (2) be closed as a duplicate of some other question that is more similar to yours in terms of the variety of answers that would reasonably answer it. I have voted to reopen your question.

In that question the asker had a specific problem, and while the answer provided some general information, it was focused on that problem. They wanted to prevent something from being shown to them when they started a terminal session, and to do so they wanted to find out the specific order in which the shell runs commands from configuration files when it starts up.

In your question, the fundamental thing you want to know is what the difference is between two very commonly used and discussed configuration files, the global /etc/profile and the .bashrc files in users' home directories. This is more general than the the other question in some ways, and more specific in others:

  • There is a lot more to this than the order in which commands are run, and while some other aspects of the question are addressed in the question it was closed as a duplicate of, the focus is still substantially oriented toward figuring out what commands are run and in what order.
  • To do this, a large amount of detail was provided--more, probably, than you are looking for--and the most basic aspects of the question were not emphasized (because they were not specifically important to that question). If you are a novice shell user, that question might not be your best first resource.

For me, in deciding to cast my reopen vote, it came down to this: In my view, your question would benefit from additional answers providing guidance about how to figure out which of these files to use. The distinctions between those files that are usually the most important are not what order their commands are run in, but instead (1) one is systemwide, the other is for all users, and (2) the commands in one run specifically for login shells, but any Bourne-style login shell, not just Bash, while commands in the other generally run for interactive Bash shells. That affects what you would put in each one--for example, one common use of .bashrc is to add aliases.

I hope I haven't upset anyone by writing something in this meta post that could be interpreted as a (vague and partial) answer to your original question on the main site. In order for me to express why I suspect your question should not remain a duplicate of that question, it was necessary for me to address the issue of what sorts of answers that might be valuable to the community (and to you) might be posted on your question if it were open, that would not be appropriate on other one.

Questions on our site, and their answers, are not only for the people who asked them. We are, after all, trying "to build a library of detailed answers to every question about Ubuntu". That's one reason I felt comfortable voting to reopen your question even though you accepted that answer. Although the answer you accepted is useful (and I upvoted it), I thought your question would be more valuable to the community with additional answers, and that those answers would not be right to post on the other question. (Note, though, that we might have some other question where they would be better, or where they already exist. So if your question is reopened, please don't be surprised if it's closed again as a duplicate of something else.)

However, if you had only believed it to be wrongly closed because you thought duplicates were just for copied text, then that is a different matter. I would still be a bit uneasy about the closure, but I wouldn't pursue the matter further if you end up deciding the closure is correct.


As for the more general aspect of this meta question--what to do when your question is closed as a duplicate and you disagree--you can:

  • Edit the question to clarify how it is different. Sometimes this involves providing more information, changing the scope of your question, and other modifications.

    This is to say that editing can be used both to (1) question a closure that is wrong, and (2) remedy whatever circumstances led to a closure that is correct. Editing also bumps your question up on the front page (though please don't use it just for that purpose).

    Although over-editing is possible, in general editing is pretty great.

  • Comment on the question to explain why it is different (often editing is better).

  • Post on meta about it. We migrated this question to meta but you can just post new questions here (and should, if they are about the site rather than Ubuntu itself). There's a rep requirement for posting on meta but it's small and you definitely meet it.

  • Flag the question for moderator attention and explain the situation. I think those three other options are usually better to start with.

You can, of course, do more than one of these things.

  • Wow... Eliah, that is just about the most detailed answer I have ever received on a stack exchange site... I am definitely accepting this answer and up voting for the descriptive and vivid content. I hope askubuntu does become a huge library of specific questions and problems on Ubuntu. Good luck to you. – NerdOfCode Jul 26 '17 at 4:11
  • @NerdOfCode Thanks--I'm glad it helped. Can you clarify if you still want your question reopened? I'm guessing you may, but (as I mentioned) part of what was going on here seems to have been confusion about what we mean on Ask Ubuntu when we say a question is a duplicate. One way to clarify that would be to edit this meta question to add more information. – Eliah Kagan Jul 26 '17 at 4:15
  • Yes, I understand now. I think that you want the question to be re-opened so I am all in for it... – NerdOfCode Jul 26 '17 at 4:16
  • @NerdOfCode Well, my preference for reopening is partly based on my belief that you consider the closure wrong. After all, I suspect it may get re-closed as a duplicate of some other question. And though I'm not sure it's a duplicate of the question it's duped to, it is potentially incomplete. If you expanded it to say what you're doing (if it's about something specific) or what other sources you've been using to learn about this so far (if any), that could help. But If you don't see it as a separate question or want more than has already been given, I'm not sure such effort is worthwhile. – Eliah Kagan Jul 26 '17 at 4:26
  • I guess I want a better explanation on what is the main differences and the significance of the having each files. – NerdOfCode Jul 26 '17 at 4:28

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