I have encountered this predicament when reviewing posted questions and answers on AU.

Should I flag a question as a duplicate even if the older question pointed to as the duplicate has no answers yet (or worse outdated) ?

Commenting with a link to the duplicate question wouldn't be much use either since the OP would have no use for a link to duplicate question without answers.

Should the question be left alone? Or be flagged still?

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I'd recommend flagging, and then ping the usual suspects in chat (Jorge, myself, there are a few others) about a bounty on the original.

Also, as per JorgeArturos comment, you should leave a comment on the duplicate saying that there is a bounty on the other question.

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  • I can't edit your answer so I'm suggesting you add the instruction to add a comment on the duplicated question pointing to the original question and informing about the bounty, two days ago I was in that situation, I noticed the original question was months old so I assumed it was dead, I made my question mentioning the other being unattended and effectively got the answer I needed, the mod did comment with a link to the original question and mentioned it was apparently dead so it was useful that he made use of common sense. Had he flagged and deleted my question I would still me in trouble. – JorgeArtware Jul 13 '13 at 8:36

I always take two things into account when flagging a duplicate

1: For new (or relatively new) subscribers AU (to be helpful)

2: Those with rep (looking at their profile to see what questions they have asked recently to build a better picture what they are looking for)

For new subcribers when flagging a duplicate, I always make sure the target Q&A has been well asked and the answer will actually help them (without confusion). As well as adding a comment that states "Possible" or "Exact" duplicate" I will also explain the context. The assumption Im making here is that new subcribers dont realize their questions have been asked before. I know others take a more hard-lined view. I never point a new subscriber to an unanswered or badly answered duplicate. In this case I will coach them (in comments) to clarify their question better

For more experienced subscribers, I will comment "Possible duplicate" even if the target Q&A has not got a conclusive answer, and ask them to edit their question for additional clarity to ensure better success. In this case I would flag it to be merged. This sets an expectation with the OP that their question has been asked before with little or no success. I would expect them to go back and edit their question to be better than the original. (we live in hope :-) )

When in doubt I follow jrc's advice, head for chat room, and flag the abandoned question.

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