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My meta question stems from this question: What is the last valid host on the subntwork 172.28.0.0/20?

It was closed as a duplicate of Mike Pennington's (phenomenal, btw) answer in this thread.

Should this have been closed? Should it have stayed open? To what degree should a question overlap with another for it to be marked as a duplicate?

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Action (close as dupe) was correct

This particular question is networking/homework 101. I particularly like that, in order to get the specific answer, it requires the OP to read the other question, understand the answer, and then work out the exact answer for themselves.

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Just because there are different ways of asking a question doesn't make it a different question. And yes, this is sometimes a judgement call by the community.

The essence of the question is asking about the exact same principles and concepts that are covered in the referenced question and the answer provided gives everything needed to answer that question.

And this particular question type is probably the highest percentage of the question marked as duplicate.

Fundamentally, are we more concerned with becoming a(nother) knowledge compendium? Or, answering people's questions?

The answer to this is both. One of SE's goals is to be able to provide high quality answers to questions that can be easily found in search engines. The point is that not only do we intend to answer the question of this individual, but that others with the same question will get it answered as well without being required to ask.

We get so many variations on this particular type of question (how to subnet, etc) that if we leave them all it will dilute the search results making our high quality answers less easily found for the next person asking the same question.

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My thought behind my sole vote to re-open was, while yes, the linked answer provides the tools for the OP to find the answer himself, it doesn't actually answer the question. My rationale is, every question that has ever been asked here is effectively asking for a paraphrase of something that is written elsewhere on the Internet. But if all we did was link RFC documents (or blog posts, or other wiki pages, etc) then we wouldn't really be where we are today.

I think linking and referring the OP to read Mike's post was absolutely relevant. But I also think there was an opportunity to give a more personal answer to the OP.

Between the options of closing and marking as duplicate, or referring and still helping them with their answer, which do you think is more likely to bring the OP back for another question in the future? Which do you think would build a more consistent community long term?

Fundamentally, are we more concerned with becoming a(nother) knowledge compendium? Or, answering people's questions? Because if its the latter, we really ought to give people the attention they deserve, and not instantly assume they didn't Google, or search the prior questions, but really wait to see if their question was a full duplicate vs just slightly overlapping.

In any case, I wrongly posted in chat, and Ylearn suggested I make a meta post about it instead. SO here it is. Where does everyone else stand on this?

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    My concern is people posting their homework (or job screening) questions and having other people doing the work for them. By pointing them to documentation where they might learn to do it themselves, I feel less concerned about it and it provides the community with better qualified members of the profession.
    – GeorgeB
    Jun 22 '15 at 18:23

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