Ironically, a similar question has been asked before two years ago... We need to be more careful about closing questions as duplicates... but that was about questions with answers that might answer the (non)-dupe, while these are merely related.
It seems like questions are being marked as duplicates any time they are related and have one or more notable or distinctive things in common (especially if they're about a less-travelled destination). Sometimes, questions are marked as duplicates that address some side-issue or element mentioned as background in a question, but don't address the thing the asker actually asked for - as if people are using "close as duplicate" when they mean "you might also find this interesting or useful".
Here are some recent duplicates that left me scratching my head:
- What time to buses and marshrutkas leave from Tblisi for the Red Bridge? was marked as a duplicate of a question which had no content in either question or answers about the one thing the asker actually wanted to know (what times they leave), about buses only (excluding mashrutkas), between Tblisi and Baku by any route (not specifically via the red bridge or from the rail station which the asker asked for), that was from 4 years ago with a comment mentioning that it's now out of date.
- Flight path over a war zone, such as Syria and Iraq in 2015, asking about flights over an extremely serious active war zone shortly after the Russian military joined in the fray with modern high-tech weaponry, was closed as a duplicate of a question specifically about flying over Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan (very different countries and situations), asked at a time when fighting in these areas was largely limited to ground-level, sporadic, low-tech militancy or civil disturbances or low-altitude drone strikes, asked and answered before MH17 was shot down, before every airline re-assessed its policies and risk assessment of flying over conflict areas. The situations of Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan in 2014 and Syria and Iraq in 2015 are very different, especially in terms of risk to air traffic.
In both cases, the answers to the old question obviously didn't answer the new question. The questions had some limited overlap, but were asking for or about different things. Also, both got their x5 close votes after someone had commented pointing out that they weren't dupes
There are some other similar ones as well, but I can't find them right now.
Can we please only close as duplicates when the questions are duplicates, and instead cross-link as related when questions include some related content but would need different content for proper answers?
Update - I don't entirely understand the response to this question. +10 votes (great!), but both example questions are still closed (huh?), and neither of the two answers below addresses the particular type of voting I'm describing or the circumstances of these examples.
No-one seems to disagree when I say these questions shouldn't be duped, and no-one has attempted to argue that Iraq = Iran or that "Mashrutka times" = "Bus frequency", yet they're still marked as dupes. I'm also still seeing some high-rep users reaching for the "close as dupe" button in situations where on other sites, people would simply cross-link as related.
Update #2 - a month later, one of the example questions got re-opened, but despite a detailed explanation of why the two questions aren't dupes here on Meta, the Georgia-Baku question attracted a mere one re-open vote (I can finally see them now!
:-)). Plus one comment below, pointing out that mashrutkas look a bit like buses. In case anyone's unclear, mashrutkas and buses are as different as ride-share cars and taxis.
This is why I think there's a problem here. It seems people have no problem at all with piling-on close votes without stopping to check if they really are dupes ("I don't know what a mashrutka is, but, meh, who cares, I'll vote to close anyway"), but there's no equivalent enthusiasm for re-opening incorrectly closed questions on non-mainstream topics, even when the difference has been explained at length ("I don't know what a mashrutka is, so, meh, who cares, I won't vote to re-open").
Update #3 - we've just closed a question about journey planning (how to find journey options that minimise time spent in the air) as a duplicate of a question about travel-related psychology (how to overcome a fear of flying)...
One has answers recommending journey planning websites with particular features, the other has answers talking about seminars and anxiety reduction techniques. Someone interested in one question might find the other interesting, but clearly, neither question's answers would answer the other:
"How can I overcome a fear of flying?" "Try Rome2Rio or HipMunk". Nope.
"How can I find cheap routes that involve less air time?" "Try an airline's fear-of-flying seminar, then read a book when you're on the plane". Nope.
They're obviously different questions, and it'll take hours or days to re-open in which time people with useful information to share will lose interest. This is clearly still a problem.
Update #4 - Seriously, this is getting ridiculous now. This morning alone we've got:
- A question about bus routes to/from Tblisi about to be closed as a duplicate of a question about bus routes to/from Batumi, a city the other side of Georgia. Sure, some buses to Tblisi travel via Batumi, and it's a nice city, so by all means, post a related info link, but why prevent people posting information about buses to Tblisi by routes other than Batumi, and why prevent people from sharing what the asker asked for, which is where in Tblisi to go to get the bus to Istanbul?
- An attempt to dupe a question about whether a Brussels station's luggage lockers are still open after the Brussels terrorist attacks, to a general question about left luggage facilities in Brussels from a year before those terrorist attacks. Please don't make me explain why this one isn't a dupe. Please.
There seems to be a small destructive hardcore who close-vote without thinking, and who don't care about the consequences for other users. What can we do about it?