One of the concepts behind the StackExchange model is that questions which have the same underlying basis can be treated as duplicates, so it's possible to have a single place where the answers are 'accumulated'. That of course requires voting to close, which as we gain more users with sufficient reputation becomes more likely to be 'community-driven' rather than 'moderator-driven'. It therefore seems sensible to raise the question of how people feel this should work.
There are obviously a number of different cases. Sometimes, questions asked are clear and its easy to see that they really are duplicates of older questions. However, many questions from newer members of the site are not so easy to categories, at least without some feedback from the questioner.
My question is therefore what the 'guidelines' should be for voting to close as duplicates. (There is always some flexibility, of course.)
Some points that I think might be worth considering in an answer:
- Closing requires five votes. Does it make a difference to how you should act if the question has no/one/two/three/four close votes already?
- How does feedback from the OP fit it? They might come back very quickly and say either 'Yes, the link helped me' or 'I'm still having an issue because ...'.
- Should the approach be different depending on how many questions the OP has asked before?
- Does it make a difference if the question is very clear (i.e. to the 'certainly' of the duplication)?