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What justification is there to flag this question as a duplicate?

The question flagged was the one which was asked first and not the other that is being said it is a duplicate of.

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The "SE definition" of duplicate is that a question (call it Q2) is considered a duplicate of another question (Q1) if the answers to Q1 also answer Q2. I know this isn't the situation you're asking about, but this sometimes trips people up e.g. when they are asking a fairly limited question and there is already a broader question and some answers.

It's my impression (I don't know if it's SE policy and I can't be bothered to go looking right now) that it's ok to mark an older question as a duplicate of a newer question if the newer one has better answers. I'm pretty sure I've seen this happen even with a months-older question being marked as a duplicate of a newer one, and it could make sense. Again, using my example of a limited vs. a broad question, someone could ask a more general question later.

It's also my impression that SE recently changed policy and doesn't allow a question Q2 to be closed as a duplicate of Q1 if Q1 has no answers at all or even no upvoted answers. This sort-of makes sense - how can you close something as a duplicate if there are no answers to judge? I'm pretty sure I've seen this sort of duplicate before, but recently on ServerFault marking something as a duplicate wasn't allowed because there were no upvoted answers.

OTOH, you can certainly imagine cases where it's obvious even w/out any answers to either Q1 or Q2 that they are duplicates.

So for your recent string of 3 questions, the fact that an older one was marked as duplicate of a newer one seems to be fine as far as SE policy goes, but I think current SE policy wouldn't allow them to be closed as duplicates because there are no answers yet.

On the gripping hand, I look at those 3 recent questions and it sure seems to me that the answers would be very very similar...

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    Ward is right. It is legitimate to close older questions as a duplicate of a new one. See this post Oct 23, 2014 at 2:28
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    @DavidStratton I cannot think of an objective, non-arbitrary reason why it would not be. It's not something I've ever been troubled with. I always mark the lesser question as the duplicate. The one that is just not as well written.
    – user3961
    Oct 23, 2014 at 6:55

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