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If a "better" version of a old question, in which direction should they be closed?

Should the newer question be closed as a duplicate of the older question (and perhaps the older question should be edited)? Or should the older question be closed as a duplicate of the newer question?

For example, these two questions:

Using alpha channel of generated images for cycles

uv image editor alpha?

Which should be closed as a duplicate of which?

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  • $\begingroup$ I would say the first should be kept. It just seems to have more info and have it better explained. I think that if there are duplicates then the better one should be left open. $\endgroup$ – BlendingJake Oct 28 '14 at 18:53
  • $\begingroup$ Wasn't something like this raised on a previous post? $\endgroup$ – iKlsR Oct 28 '14 at 19:16
  • $\begingroup$ @iKlsR I thought it was, but couldn't find it. $\endgroup$ – gandalf3 Oct 28 '14 at 19:23
  • $\begingroup$ @gandalf3 I understand where you're coming from but the duplicate is a copy of the first and also to prevent confusion regardless of quality, newer questions should be marked as duplicates of older ones. I can vaguely remember a similar meta post, will link if I can find it. $\endgroup$ – iKlsR Oct 29 '14 at 10:03
  • $\begingroup$ Related: Should I flag a question as duplicate if it has received better answers? $\endgroup$ – kenorb Jul 22 '17 at 18:36
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Ultimately, you should always point users the "best" possible information you have. The wiki nature of Stack Exchange exists so you can constantly improve your content. Ideally, you would have caught the duplicate post before it split the conversation, but if a better (duplicate) question went on long enough to attract demonstrably better answers, you should make that THE canonical source of that information.

But remember that you have a lot more tools are your disposal that simply closing one question or the other. If both threads contain great information, you can also consider merging the answers. And if the new question was simply clearer, consider editing the original to incorporate the qualities of whatever you found more intriguing in the second post.

Recall also that we changed the [closed as duplicate] description to say, "this question already has an answer elsewhere…" rather than focusing on the question itself. Closing a question as duplicate provides another entry point help folks searching for that information, but we're here to help people find the best possible answer rather than worrying about who asked the question first. You should always look at the entire thread to decide which should be the canonical source of that information. Sure, if the quality of both questions happens to be a dead heat, you should stick to the original thread… but generally speaking, you should always point them to the best possible information you have.

Essentially, you should never favor the lesser-quality thread because it was "posted first."

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  • $\begingroup$ thank you dropping by and shedding some light on this. Out of curiosity, what would you do in the specific case mentioned in the question? $\endgroup$ – David Oct 29 '14 at 17:49
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    $\begingroup$ @David (I'm not familiar enough with the subject to say for certain but...) On the surface, it appears the 2nd post from yesterday should simply be closed. The answer(s) provided don't add meaningfully to the information already provided in the original thread, and the author is confusing the issue by 'answering' with "Wait, nevermind..." I updated my post above to clarify the actual remedies you can use in these situations. Hope that helps. $\endgroup$ – Robert Cartaino Oct 29 '14 at 18:05

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