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I was browsing through questions sorted by "active," starting from the last page (i.e. looking at least active questions), and I came across "the printers is" vs. "the printers are" which seems to make (debatably, I suppose it could just be considered related) What does the butcher's (meaning the butcher's shop) become in the plural a duplicate.

The older question has no accepted answer and the OP's account is no longer with us. Regardless of what to do for this particular example, it got me wondering...

What should we do in the case of a duplicate question that is much older, has no accepted answer, and has a "dead" asker?

Possibilities that came to mind:

  • Mark the older question as the duplicate
  • Consider the older question simply "related" (even if it is, in truth, a duplicate) and link to it from the newer question
  • Just leave the whole thing alone
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  • These are different questions. They are related inasmuch as they are about differences between singular and plural forms of things. But the things in question are different things. – Euan M Nov 27 '15 at 5:44
  • Marking older question will not make any sense. Second option suits me. – user25493 Nov 27 '15 at 6:16
  • @Euan M "Regardless of what to do for this particular example..." My question is not about what to do regarding the questions I linked to. – pyobum Nov 27 '15 at 8:16
  • I agree that your question was not what to do about the particular paired examples you gave. But it is still an example of false-positive regarding claiming a non-duplicating pair as duplicates. – Euan M Dec 1 '15 at 1:26
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The question with answers that are actually useful is far more valid and important than a dusty old unanswered question. But duplicate linking helps improve search results, so closing the old question as a duplicate of the better question seems to be the best plan to me.

I double-checked my gut on this with an MSE search, and I found this relevant answer to a question asking what to do if you want to ask a question that has an old unanswered duplicate: Firstly consider why the old one hasn't been answered (is it badly written, is it unanswerable, is it in the wrong place, etc).

Ask your question, making sure you avoid the mistakes the old one made.

Make a note of the old question on your new one, (and explain why any answers that the old one has are no good to you).

If appropriate (and if you have enough rep), vote to close the old one as a duplicate of your new one, and add a comment on the old one stating what you have done with a link to your new one.

Seems like good advice all around, whether the new question exists yet or not!

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