Some questions are asked about fairly specific topics, which is no surprise. If you ask a question about the same topic but with a much broader question, would it be considered a duplicate?

For example, this question: Are there international laws that compel Mexico to prevent migrants from crossing the border and into the U.S.?. If one were to ask a question about “are their any international laws that encourage countries to prevent people from illegally leaving, and what are some arguments for and against this”, would that question be considered a duplicate or a completely different question?

1 Answer 1


There is not a consensus in the Stack Exchange community about exactly where to draw the line on duplicate questions. Some people favor a strict definition:

  • A question is a duplicate only if it is exactly the same question as an existing one.

Others favor a broader definition:

  • A question is a duplicate of another question if the answers on the duplicate target can answer the first question.

Others (primarily old-timers on StackOverflow) favor an even broader definition:

  • Each problem should ideally have a single general solution, and questions that can be considered a form of or a specific case of that solution should be closed as duplicates of it.

Personally, I prefer the middle definition. If you can see one of the answers on the potential duplicate target answering your question, then you should consider your question a duplicate. Others here would disagree, but since this definition is broader, if your question satisfies this test then it will satisfy the first one as well.

Based on this definition, the question of whether a broader question is a duplicate of a narrower question depends on whether the answers to the narrow question are narrow too. So, if the duplicate target referred to some US-Mexico specific agreements, then it wouldn't answer your more general question. If the answer was based on international laws that would apply to any general country, then it would be a duplicate.

In this specific case, the duplicate target has no answers, so this test is impossible. In that case, feel free to ask your more general question, though it's generally a good idea to preempt close voters by linking to the related question and (if necessary) explaining why it's not a duplicate.

I would worry that your new question is too broad, since you're asking both about the existence of laws and for arguments for and against them. I'd vote to close this question as "too broad" and would suggest you first ask what laws exist, and then ask for pro/con arguments later based on the answers to your first question

  • 2
    One thing to note about the middle definition is it handles cases where the question can be asked differently but still get the same answer in the end. Duplicates are not always a bad thing and can help others find the answer if they are not looking at it in the same way as the original question.
    – Joe W
    Mar 25, 2021 at 17:23
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    @JoeW Agreed. In cases like that, I might suggest asking your question anyway and then deliberately closing it as a duplicate of the target to serve as a signpost
    – divibisan
    Mar 25, 2021 at 17:26

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