Is insta-closing of potential duplicates always the best way? In low Q-rate sites? Is there something to be said for slow-closing or eventual closing?

Constellation search from April 22 2007 received three good answers before it was correctly closed as duplicate to our canonical Where can I find the positions of the planets, stars, moons, artificial satellites, etc. and visualize them? which was cultivated and cared-for by the late @user21.

Two of the three answers there are not found in the canonical answer (in-the-sky.org, skyandtelescope.org); we might not have found that out had that question been closed earlier, the Sky and Telescope answer was added only 40 minutes before the insta-close.

Closing as duplicate is a very important tool as it directs future readers to answers they should see, I'm just asking about the speed.

The Sky and Telescope answer is the first post from a new answer, the only up vote the've received is mine, and only because I stopped by to check on the question. Had the question been given another day or two before closing, perhaps by letting the community do it, they might have picked up another vote or two.

New users are a low question rate SE site's life blood. They are to be encouraged and nurtured.

To review:

• had closing been a day or two later, a new user may have received some precious first up votes for that new and valuable answer.
• Even if they go and add it to the community wiki of the duplicate, they can't receive up votes, and would be discouraged from posting a separate answer where they could.

Question: Is insta-closing of potential duplicates always the best way? In low Q-rate sites? Is there something to be said for slow-closing or eventual closing?

• note: at some point those two answers should be added to the duplicate's community Wiki.
– uhoh
Sep 23, 2021 at 22:46

When closed because of duplicate, a question has a clear link to the original question:

This question already has answers here:



So had he came after closure, the 'Sky and Telescope user' would still have been able to post his answer, but under the original question, which is actually better. After all, it is the goal of closing duplicate questions:

The fundamental goal of closing duplicate questions is to help people find the right answer by getting all of those answers in one place.

Once posted there, his answer could have get upvotes forever, and there would be no need for moving the content from one question to the other. So all in all, I don't really the issue of fast-closing, as long as there is a clear link to the question where answers belong.

• You've just written a generic explanation of how closing as duplicate works
– uhoh
Sep 24, 2021 at 15:13
• I've mentioned that in this particular case the answer to the target for the dupe is a community wiki so no upvotes, and said it should be closed but just not so quickly, and explained why I think that. I don't think you've really addressed the question as written yet.
– uhoh
Sep 24, 2021 at 15:13
• You mentioned you were concerned about the speed of closing, like if it was preventing people to answer. I explain how it does not prevent people from answering. Sep 24, 2021 at 15:37
• Also, if you ask specifically about duplicates of community wiki questions, maybe you should make it clearer? I understood your question as more general. (But it does not necessarily mean the question is badly asked; maybe I understood it badly.) Sep 24, 2021 at 15:40
• it has the specific question tag and the specific question is literally the first words of the first sentence and agrees it should eventually be closed.. The title "Is insta-closing... always the best way? ...something to be said for slow-closing?" explains the question is about the rapidity rather than the inevitability.
– uhoh
Sep 25, 2021 at 1:00
• It's not what I meant. Anyway, I told you my opinion: I don't see speed as an issue. Actually it would have been better to close faster: it would not have prevented anyone from answering, and the answers would have been posted at the right place. Sep 25, 2021 at 6:29
• I guess the difference is in the weight we put on the first experiences of new users. For long term health of an SE site and its community the "welcoming" policy can't be underestimated. To me questions are more than just photons, we shouldn't treat them identically.
– uhoh
Sep 25, 2021 at 6:36

I am just one member of the community, but in my opinion, closing questions for correct reasons quickly is always desirable even in the rare case that the duplicate linked question has a wiki answer. In my opinion, the risk of discouragement to new users is not a sufficiently good reason to delay closing clear duplicate questions. As @uhoh notes above, the new answers now should to be migrated to the original duped question.

Also, I don't think this question was insta-closed. It was closed about 17 hours after opening. I try to be extra careful as a moderator when closing questions since we can close in a single vote. If the closure is ambiguous, I would prefer the community closes it with 5 votes. In this case it appears that my closure was unilateral, but I hit the wrong button when first closing it, so I reopened and then closed it correctly as a dupe. There were several votes for closure prior to my close vote.

• Thanks for your answer! I'm always interested in exploring "Stack Exchange Theory" because SE works so incredibly well. I like to understand what makes it tick. When you say "...closing questions for correct reasons quickly is always desirable..." and "...not a sufficiently good reason to delay..." I'm left not understanding why quickly is so important? Also, my metric for "quickly" is anything that doesn't allow a post to go at least once around the Earth i.e. 24 hours giving most daily users a crack at answering and the OP a crack at responding when there's no substantial risk to the site.
– uhoh
Sep 30, 2021 at 3:45
• I wish there was a "slow close" option for questions that don't particularly need a sub-24-hour insta-close. Something like "This question is scheduled for closing and therefore prevention of further answers in 3 days." Some examples of perfectly natural slow closes: What does "most of mathematics" mean? and Why is Sesame Street's Count von Count's favorite number 34,969? The Math SE community is quite mature and can self-slow closes where probably needed but answers should be allowed first.
– uhoh
Sep 30, 2021 at 3:46
• Most SE site communities are not up to that level, so a slow-close or eventual-close vote option might be a great idea; it gets folks better used to the idea that some really need to be closed and answer posts prevented quickly, while others present no clear and present danger to the site, so answer-blocking isn't really needed.
– uhoh
Sep 30, 2021 at 3:52
• no further thoughts on the reasons behind "...closing questions for correct reasons quickly is always desirable..." and "...not a sufficiently good reason to delay..."? From Stack Exchange Theory point of view there must be some underlying principle at work here.
– uhoh
Oct 6, 2021 at 20:20
• I have a lot of thoughts but they are not coming out as very coherent when I write them down or edit a response. My non-response to your comments is due to me being a bit out of my depth.
– Connor Garcia Mod
Oct 7, 2021 at 2:41
• Yes I know exactly what you mean. So much of SE heritage comes from SO where the question rate has always been sky high. We have inherited a lot of principles and habits from SO, and so quick-closing is probably intuitive, instinctive or reflexive. So I've asked a hard question on purpose, we learn about not only "SE theory" but any theory by poking at it and challenging its premises.
– uhoh
Oct 7, 2021 at 3:00
• If it should be closed, it should be closed. If it shouldn't be closed, it should not be closed. There is no sense in having something halfway in between. Either it should be answered or it should not - leaving it to receive only quick answers and then sealing it off helps nobody.
– Nij
Oct 7, 2021 at 23:44