There have been countless questions on this subject, but the closest one I found was about (something like) what defines a duplicate, the question or the answer? This one is slightly different.

I ran into this question. I saw the question was mentioned as a duplicate to this one in a comment, and started happily writing an answer in the supposed original.

Then I looked better into the exact words of the description of he question and read that the poster explicitly asked for a solution that also worked without GUI log in. Since my answer (not a duplicate as far as I can see) only works when logging in with GUI, I felt silly posting it there, and came to the conclusion that although the question seemed to be a duplicate, the description of the question asked for a different solution. Therefore it could not be an exact duplicate. I have seen other examples like this, where questions were happily closed as duplicate, while indeed the title suggested a duplicate, but the description made clear the origin of the question was different.

My question is in general, since in this case there was still another duplicate that I overlooked, which was a real duplicate in my opinion.

So my question is: what defines a duplicate, a question, its description or both?

  • Aha, an epistemology question! I'm glad there's already an accepted answer. ;)
    – belacqua
    May 10, 2014 at 20:27
  • @belacqua I had to look it up :). I think strictly practiced rules should be clearly defined. May 10, 2014 at 22:26

1 Answer 1


The complete question consists of the Title and the Text. While we want the title to be formulated as question (which rarely happens), the text is not merely the Description as you put it.

So a question can only be regarded as a duplicate of another one if the complete questions (i.e. Title and Text) meet that criterion.

  • I think asking the question makes clear this is the answer I was hoping for. In practice, in the triangle of question, description and answer, we should be careful marking a question as duplicate too easily. I have also recently seen examples in which the question was marked as duplicate as a result of an answer, drifting away from the question in the direction of a duplicate, while the question was not. Thank you for your answer. May 10, 2014 at 17:57
  • @JacobVlijm You bring up here another point: assessing a question as duplicate because (although the question looks different) the answers have to be the same - in that case I would rather point to the question with the good answers - and vote for duplicate.
    – guntbert
    May 11, 2014 at 10:02
  • I don't mean the answer should be the same, but the perception of the question is set by the emphasis in an answer. Example: askubuntu.com/questions/461597/… Look at Braiam's version (3rd edit, the clearest qua meaning IMO) which makes clear the poster knows that it is a shebang, but simply wonders why the # is not making the line ignored. Actually different from the supposed original. The answer however bends the question towards the duplicate, and it was marked as such. Not justly I think. May 11, 2014 at 12:23

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