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This was originally posted as an answer on Encouraging new users through comments and refraining from swift closing/rapid/multiple down-voting; I've posted this as a new question by request from PolyGeo, who wrote:

I think this would be better raised as a New Meta Question rather than being "buried" here as an Answer. I recommend that you copy/paste your Answer content into a New Question and then delete this Answer. My Answer will be along the lines of it takes a net score of 5 close votes to move to an "on hold" grace period (of I think 3 days) before it is actually closed so there is usually plenty of time for editing and re-opening.

(Since writing the comments which follow, I've read more of the commentary on closing/handing duplicate questions, including the blog entry Dr. Strangedupe: Or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying And Love Duplication.)

I'm posting here because I'm still relatively new to the review process, and I wanted to comment on my "leave open" vote on the question How to find out what British Navy ship someone served on during World War 2?

It is essentially the same question as Tracing records of Royal Navy personnel from ww2 but the answer for the question describes the process of finding the information for the first person. This means that anyone who comes along and asks a question for the second time can't get the benefit of the community looking over their work if they follow the research process in the first question, and fail.

I understand that it's not the SE way to discuss these problems; we're supposed to be answering them. But if we want to attract new users, isn't it better to give them a chance to improve their question?

Let's say someone goes off and tries the steps given in the answer to the first question and fails. Then what?

Take my question about finding people who moved, which I asked in part because I can't find people in the US Federal Census. Someone else who can't find their relative in the 1930 US Federal Census might not be able to find them for completely different reasons than the ones that caused me not to find my people. So how are they supposed to ask for a better answer if they tried all the things I tried and still couldn't find them?

As noted above, PolyGeo did explain that questions move to 'on hold' status on the way to being 'closed' but it still seems a bit lopsided that we can comment on why we voted to close but not the opposite.

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I'll try to respond on three questions within your Question:

  • We can comment if we vote to close a question, but not if we vote to keep it open?

The Comments beneath every Question and Answer are available to say whatever you like and I have often seen them used to suggest/recommend that others vote to keep the question open rather than close it like someone else.

  • But if we want to attract new users, isn't it better to give them a chance to improve their question?

Closing is a protracted process and as long as we try to help people improve their Questions then the rare occasions it has been used here seem to me to be about right. A good read on the close procedure is War of the Closes which says that "Questions [with On Hold status (which takes a net five Close votes to happen)] not re-opened within five days [I thought it was three days] will revert to displaying as “closed”".

  • Let's say someone goes off and tries the steps given in the answer to the first question and fails. Then what?
  • So how are they supposed to ask for a better answer if they tried all the things I tried and still couldn't find them?

I think this is the key question and your reference to Dr. Strangedupe: Or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying And Love Duplication is highly appropriate.

Often when I vote to close as a duplicate (and I was one who voted to close How to find out what British Navy ship someone served on during World War 2?) it is with the intention that the Asker will then edit their Question to explain why the original one did not provide them with an Answer.

My recommendation when asking a Question for which there is anything similar already in GFH SE, and especially when closure has already been proposed, is to state at or near the outset something like:

I recognise that this Question is somewhat similar to a previous Question (insert_URL_here) but the Answer(s) to that do not help me because ...

For How to find out what British Navy ship someone served on during World War 2? I think the Asker would be wise to include details like:

  1. I searched the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website and found nothing because his wounds were non-fatal ...
  2. etc

As a result I am now asking this specific Question ...

Because you have taken the time to raise this on Meta, I am going to retract my Close vote on the Question in Main.

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    I agree that the new Questioner should be asked to do the work of reading the other Q/A and trying the steps therein. Thanks for clarifying the timeframe of holding/closing questions.
    – Jan Murphy Mod
    Jan 6 '14 at 4:56

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