We seem to have some "encyclopedic" question on the site, that are intended to cover a wide variety of situations. I see a strong tendency to close questions even remotely related to these "encyclopedic" questions as duplicates. One recent example is this question about using South Korean credit cards at gas pumps in the USA, closed as a duplicate of this question on foreign credit cards at USA gas pumps in general, even though the "duplicate" question has no answers for South Korea in particular.

The argument I've seen is that we don't want "200 questions on the same topic" (1 for every country), or even "40,000 questions" (one for every country pair). However, I see several problems with this line of reasoning:

  1. There is no good way to attract attention to an old question (other than, possibly, bounties, but they are expensive - especially for new users - and can't be considered a general-purpose mechanism). In the example above, how do we get users with "South Korea + USA" expertise to look at the old question? Sure, it will get some attention during the duplicate-closing stage, and frequent users will see it, but for some niche questions you really need the question to be open for a long time to chance upon a person who has the specific niche expertise to answer it.
  2. I don't understand why having lots of well-tagged, short and to the point questions is a bad thing. First, it will realistically never be 40,000 questions, my guess is dozens at most, but even if it was - why is that a problem? We are living in a modern, searchable and tagged world - the right question is easy to find, and if a new user searches for "korea usa credit card gas" they will see the 1 right question - why should we care that there are 39,999 others in the system for other countries?
  3. In general, there is something to be said for the Q&A format as opposed to encyclopedic content. We have things like WikiVoyage that cater to the other, encyclopedic format. Some people are just better at understanding specific answers, as opposed to trying to comprehend encyclopedic text and fish out the information relevant to them. And this is why they come to the StackExchange network in the first place. For example, almost any visa or customs question can be answered by reading the rules on official government sites. We could have for example one "uber-question on Canadian visas" by just copying the Citizenship and Immigration Canada content into that question, and closing every Canadian visa question as a duplicate of that - but I think this clearly goes against the spirit of this site, there's clearly value in specific situation Q&A. Yet we do almost exactly the same thing for the dual-passport question - almost anything that mentions dual passports gets closed as a dupe regardless of the specific situation. Another example: Many questions on StackOverflow (programming questions) can be answered by reading the manual/documentation, yet clearly there's a lot of value in asking and answering questions about how to complete a specific task.

So, 2 questions and a proposal:

Question 1: Is there really any value to the broader community in optimizing for fewer questions? By broader community I mean specifically people who don't know much about travel and/or aren't expert users of this site, but are simply coming here for answers. Or is reducing the number of questions something that only regulars/power-users care about? (I realize I'm asking this on Meta which is biased to regulars/power-users, but I hope to generate objective discussion on this)

Proposal: If we really do want to optimize for the number of questions, what do you think about the following policy:

  • If a new question is related to an existing "encyclopedic" question, but the existing "encyclopedic" answers don't cover the specific thing the new question is asking about, then link to the old question but keep the new question open
  • Wait until the new question gathers enough good answers
  • Then, power users / people who care about question consolidation can move the answer to the old question (e.g. we can have a Community Wiki answer in the old question for such things), and only then vote to dupe-close the new question.

Question 2: If you don't think the proposal above is a good idea, what should be the recommended way to solicit new answers to an old "encyclopedic" question (e.g. what should someone do to get a South Korea-specific answer to the credit card at gas pumps question?)

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    I cannot agree more and in fact was about to write a similar post here, only that you expressed it 100 times better. +1 and my support, thanks for getting a discussion on this community started. On a somewhat unrelated note, there is another post of mine here on meta about dupe-closing Should we dupe-close questions that are older than their duplicate?
    – mts
    Commented Jul 8, 2016 at 13:34
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    Add details to the canonical question to cover the new currently-uncovered case. Extend the encyclopaedia. Problem solved.
    – JoErNanO Mod
    Commented Jul 8, 2016 at 13:57
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    @JoErNanO - the problem is question visibility. There may be only a few people with the expert knowledge needed to answer the "currently-uncovered case". If there's an open, unanswered question, everyone will see it, and there's a good chance it will get an answer. But if there's a two-year old question about credit cards at gas pumps, and someone who knows about South Korean credit cards visits the site, how will they even know to look at the old question, how will they even know their expertise is required?
    – Eugene O
    Commented Jul 8, 2016 at 14:10
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    @GayotFow - again, you're not answering my visibility/discoverability question. Let's say we have "User Alice" who asked the South Korean credit card question, and "User Bob" who's one of only a few experts on South Korean credit cards. "User Bob" comes to the site and casually browses the newest / unanswered questions. But if the question by "User Alice" was deleted as duplicate, how will "User Bob" even know to look at the "canonical question", how will he even know that his expertise is required?
    – Eugene O
    Commented Jul 8, 2016 at 14:49
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    @GayotFow - Also: Let's now say that I'm now interested in using Russian credit cards in US gas pumps. I am aware of the canonical question, and I'm aware of Travel.SE rules, so I don't create a dupe question (at least the dupe question would attract some attention before it disappears, but I'm trying to play by the rules so I don't create it). So how on earth am I supposed to attract Russian credit card experts to the old canonical question? Am I supposed to just wait for one of these experts to spontaneously discover a years-old question?
    – Eugene O
    Commented Jul 8, 2016 at 14:52
  • @EugeneO when a question gets dupified the body of the question is amended with a link to the canonical question. Simultaneously the canonical is bumped up the list of frequently asked questions.
    – Gayot Fow
    Commented Jul 8, 2016 at 14:54
  • 1
    Travel questions are often time-sensitive, and it's about pull vs push model. Sure, if I'm a South Korea expert, I may at some point just stumble upon a question on page 17 of the FAQ list and happen to add an answer, but I don't have much of an incentive to do so, it will only happen by random chance. On the other hand, an open, unanswered question clearly indicates that someone is in need of a particular answer, right now.
    – Eugene O
    Commented Jul 8, 2016 at 15:10
  • 1
    Here's some actual data: The canonical credit card question was opened 3.5 years ago. In all that time, no one happened to add a South Korean answer to that question. In fact, no one added any answers for any new countries since 2013. So if I'm looking for an answer for a new country, am I supposed to just wait for multiple years until an answer happens to come, or is it perhaps worth having an actual open question on the site to draw experts' attention?
    – Eugene O
    Commented Jul 8, 2016 at 15:14
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    @GayotFow By the way, this discussion is not purely academic - I really do want to know the answer for the credit card question in the case of Russian and Israeli cards, but I have literally no idea how to get those answers on Travel.SE while playing by all the duplicate rules. How would you proceed if you wanted to get this information? Just wait for someone to add to the canonical question, something which hasn't happened since 2013 for that particular question?
    – Eugene O
    Commented Jul 8, 2016 at 15:17
  • 1
    This isn't just about Korean credit cards. By its very nature, this site will have lots of similar-sounding questions about different countries, cities, etc. If a user has a question about country X, the user can normally get an answer pretty quickly - unless there happens to be another similar question about countries Y/Z/W 3 years ago, in which case the user is out of luck. This seems completely arbitrary, and it's especially unfriendly to new users who aren't in a great position to offer bounties or even ask for others to place them.
    – Eugene O
    Commented Jul 8, 2016 at 15:43
  • 1
    Also, I still haven't seen any good arguments for encyclopedic/canonical questions. I've given clear examples against, i.e. instances in which users will suffer (not get the answer they need, not get a chance to help other users) because of the "single canonical question" policy. But what do we gain from this policy? What are we trying to solve by it? Do we really gain so much as to risk providing a horrible experience to genuine question askers? Basically, see point 2 in my original post, I don't think it's been addressed.
    – Eugene O
    Commented Jul 8, 2016 at 15:46
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    You are a respected and high-reputation user of the site, and I was hoping for substantive discussion / replies to the arguments from you, based on their merits, rather than a discussion of me personally and what holds "emotive complexity" for me. I have made a specific, constructive proposal, and have not yet heard substantive arguments against it (nor arguments for the single-canonical-question policy) other than basically a version of "the current process is probably good enough as it is". But of course, if you want to step aside from the discussion it's your prerogative.
    – Eugene O
    Commented Jul 8, 2016 at 16:02
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    @GayotFow How is someone wanting an answer to a travel question "awkward"? That's literally what this site is for. If you're telling people who want answers to on-topic travel questions to go somewhere else because a Travel.SE policy which has no consensus support and goes against SE policy prevents it, something has gone badly wrong. Commented Jul 8, 2016 at 16:53
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    @JoErNanO Where did this "Encyclopedias not answers" idea come from? Can you please link to the meta thread where it was proposed, discussed and agreed on? Commented Jul 8, 2016 at 16:56
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    I don't think the credit card at US gas pumps was the best place to hang your hat with regard to this issue. I do agree with you in general, but I agree with @JoErNanO in that this particular issue is pretty generic. That somewhat muddies the intent of your post I believe. I do vote against a lot of closures.
    – Berwyn
    Commented Jul 11, 2016 at 10:56

3 Answers 3


Summary: SE explictly encourages having lots of questions ("millions of questions... [so] someone types a question into Google and finds their exact question already answered"). It also allows "canonical questions" where lots of related problems share a common pattern and can all be answered by one answer that explains the pattern.

When someone has a problem not covered by the standard approach covered by the canonical question, they are allowed to ask the question. There's no precedent for trying to shoehorn every problem within an entire topic area into one question. That's not what canonical questions are for: SE is "not meant to be a library of reference manuals".

Here's a real-life example of the correct use of canonical questions, from our mother site, programming Q&A Stackoverflow:

  • They have a canonical question about a common problem, how to respond to NullReferenceException errors. There are lots of types and causes of these errors, but there's a pattern to most of them, so therefore there's one standard approach and method that fixes most of them. The answer details that approach, in extensive detail. One pattern, one question, one +1270 accepted answer. Alternate answers offer alternate general approaches.
  • This is not intended to be a complete be-all and end-all reference manual on NullReferenceException errors, constantly expanding to cover every single case and every possible exception to the pattern. They have an entire tag for those.
  • For example, that site's #1 ranking user Jon Skeet encountered an unusual NullReferenceException error, and asked Why would finding a type's initializer throw a NullReferenceException?. It's a problem in the same area: he's encountered a NullReferenceException error, and is, in his words, "stumped". But it doesn't fit the standard pattern covered by the canonical. This is a much more difficult NullReferenceException problem than most.
  • Therefore, as an atypical problem, it is not a duplicate of the canonical answer designed to cover typical problems, even though it is an example of someone trying to understand and fix a particular NullReferenceException error. It's not closed, Jon Skeet is not told to go away and place a bounty or hope someone by chance thinks of his problem and edits it into the canonical. It doesn't fit the standard pattern, so it's not a duplicate. There are hundreds of questions about fixing non-typical NullReferenceException errors that don't fit the standard pattern, and that's fine - that's what a Q&A site is for.

How this applies to the question under discussion: the linked canonical question should be a canonical question, but by trying to bloat it with an answer for every country on earth then duping every related question at it, we're going about it the wrong way. Reading all the answers and comments, there does appear to be a normal canonical pattern that does actually cover most countries, but is mislabelled. The SE-standard 'canonical' approach would be, I think:

  • To have an answer that describes the 'standard method', of turning 123456 into 12345, 123 into 12300, SW1A 2AB into 12000, and trying 00000 if all else fails
  • Say "this has been tested and appears to work for: Canada, UK, [list]" and encourage people to comment or edit in new countries that fit the pattern
  • Allow new questions when a particular country or bank card doesn't fit the pattern, like how Jon Skeet was allowed to ask about his particularly tricky NullReferenceException error even though there was already a canonical question about fixing typical NullReferenceException errors. If Korean cards need a different trick to the standard trick, leave it open. If they fit the standard pattern, dupe.
  • If in doubt, if someone asks and you don't know if they've tried the standard approach, ask. "Have you tried this approach? [link]". If "Yes that works thanks" or no reply after a reasonable time, dupe. If "Yes and the standard method doesn't work in my case", leave open.

I'm not sure where exactly this idea of a few massive encyclopedia-style articles trying to cover every problem and every circumstance within an entire topic area came from, but it explicitly goes against stated aims of Stack Exchange: which is to:

  • ...give people specific answers to all their specific problems, "in the form of millions of questions and answers"...
  • ...because the "more chance that someone types a question into Google and finds their exact question already answered, the better a job we've done"...
  • ...and we are "not meant to be a library of reference manuals".

This official blog post is from 2011 and so is specific to StackOverflow, the programming site that Travel.SE grew out of, but the same principle applies. Many answers on the official meta re-iterate it (example from SE staff). My bold, and I've added notes in italics:

The Wikipedia of Long Tail Programming Questions

["long tail" was the idea, considered novel in the 2000s, that providing thousands of niche products or services to small numbers of people each can add up to a lucrative business model]

...[introduces and explains importance of duplicates and community editing, in contrast to old sites and tools like Usenet where such things were impossible]...

If you’re going to close a user’s question as a duplicate, it has to be a real duplicate. For example, if a user asks, “What does the IP address mean?” it’s OK to close that as a duplicate of a more general question like “What do IP addresses of the form a.b.c.d/e mean?” [NOTE for non-techies: these follow a common pattern that can be explained once, and are therefore NOT like adding a new paragraph to an old answer for every country on earth] But it’s not OK to close it as a duplicate of a twenty-seven page guide to netmasks. That’s the moral equivalent of saying “RTFM.”

Stack Overflow is not meant to be a library of reference manuals. It’s supposed to contain the same information as a library of reference manuals, in the form of millions of questions and answers. Combined with Google, that gives us the magical power of a library of reference manuals you never have to read! It’s like, you got to the library, and there’s a wizard there at the door, and you ask your question, and, instead of being told to read a book, you just got (are you sitting down?) the actual answer!

That's why we actually don't mind having several versions of every question, where there are variations in wording or circumstances. The more chance that someone types a question into Google and finds their exact question already answered, the better a job we've done.

It goes on to say that there's nothing wrong with a reduced version of the encyclopedia idea:

It is OK to edit a question to make it more general. With the power of editing comes the power to take someone's selfish, very specific question, and edit it a little bit until they're asking the more general question that hundreds of people encounter.

Another official blog post makes the point that the creation of canonical questions needs to be done with good judgement and restraint:

...but if every variation in circumstance requires adding another paragraph to the answer, those are different questions, and the aim is suited better by letting people google straight to it instead of following a dupe link then digging through dozens of paragraphs.

There's a very recent (June 2016) contribution on this topic from SE staffer Shog9 on the SciFi site describing a similar debate to ours:

The idea of a massive canonical Topic FAQ is persistently alluring; instead of having 50 questions about a "sorting hat", you could just have one question with a few dozen huge answers! However, this quickly becomes impractical:

  • Massively broad questions don't rank as well in search results as specific, focused questions.
  • Folks with specific, focused questions tend to not read massively broad FAQs even if they do find them.
  • Finding specific information among multiple answers to massively broad FAQs is troublesome.
  • Remembering which information is even contained in these tomes is difficult; eventually, folks just start to assume that they contain everything and close new questions without worrying whether they're actually answered or not... This chokes out new information.

Canonical questions should be simple outlines of patterns, equivalent to “What does the IP address mean?”, not "massive canonical Topic FAQ" "tomes" that are bad for SEO, not user friendly because the relevant bit is buried, and "chokes out new information".

The policy is to not optimise aggressively for as few questions as possible. It's to ensure as many genuine distinct problems and "variations... in circumstance" are solved as possible, to the highest standard, and then make them easy to find and keep up to date.

I understand the urge (popular in academia) to ruthlessly prioritise neatness and consistency, even at the cost of usefulness, but it goes against the stated aims of the site, and hasn't worked. Wikitravel, Wikivoyage and Wikipedia already exist, we don't need to duplicate them.

As the asker points out, no-one added new countries to the 'canonical' US credit cards/gas station question in 3.5 years. Why would they? There was plenty of time to add South Korea, but no-one did. Why would they? SE doesn't have any mechanism to encourage users to do that. Those Wiki sites do - such as talk pages behind each page where people can organise themselves and say things like "Guys, we're missing South Korea, Russia, Isreal, someone get on it". Reading the comments above, one of the few users who strongly supports the encyclopedia model literally said that because this system has failed, people who want answers for countries not covered should take their (answerable, on-topic) travel questions to a different travel site. That's not what SE is about.

We're a Q&A site with a little wiki functionality. Our mechanisms primarily encourage people to answer, edit and cross-link new and unanswered questions. We have nothing to encourage people to dig up some years-old answer that the asker feels is adequately answered, add another paragraph for another country, and go against the stated aim of millions of Q&As where people can cut straight to their answer with a google search.

It's not surprising therefore that people don't do that, and we shouldn't have a policy that tells people "You're not allowed to get the answer to your question, because several chatroom regulars have convinced each other that people should have put the answer here already, even though no-one has", when we know the whole SE model is not optimised or designed for that.

One of the comments under that question expresses a theoretical concern:

I could create 150+ questions on paying with a credit card of each country on Earth then. Voting to close as dupe

...but that's not how real-life Q&A sites work. People ask when they need an answer (or want to self-answer). People answer when they see a question. The fact an unhinged individual could, theoretically, write "Can I use credit cards from [X country] in US gas pumps" 150+ times is no more relevant than the fact someone could go to, say, StackOverflow and ask about iterating through arrays recursively "in [X language]" 150+ times. It's a Q&A site, people ask when they need an answer. It works.

It's the alternative that doesn't work. Are we really supposed to fill a years-old question with 150+ answers, one for each country, not even knowing if there's any demand for info for each specific country? That's clearly a bad model. Why not help real people by answering real questions when they're asked? So that person who follows the Zambia tag because they know a lot about Zambia can see the Zambian version of the question when it's useful to someone who is interested in Zambia.

If you've ever used StackOverflow, just imagine if they used this model. Someone asks a question about some detail of memory assignment when passing objects by reference in PHP. They get an answer. Someone edits out 'PHP' and decides this is the 'canonical' memory-assignment-when-passing-objects-by-reference question. Someone adds a Javascript answer, because it's easy. People add rare esoteric languages like brainf**k to show off their knowledge. No-one happens to bother adding, say, Python. Someone asks the same question about Python. They're told to plough through the canonical and, if their case isn't covered, go away or place a bounty (if they can afford it) with a message "I hope someone reads this. I'd like to know about python please" that no-one who follows the python tag can see.

That wouldn't be a good model for a successful Q&A site, and it is not how SE works.

Related: A friendly reminder that duplicates should be the same QUESTION, not different questions with similar answers. A large majority clearly agree with this position, but unfortunately it only takes 5 users determined to go against the consensus to prevent people from getting the answers they need before they travel.

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    If canonical questions explicitly go against SE policy then why are they widely used, accepted, and relied upon across SE sites?
    – JoErNanO Mod
    Commented Jul 11, 2016 at 10:12
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    You didn't read this very closely, did you? Other sites use them carefully, in cases that fit the “What do IP addresses of the form a.b.c.d/e mean?” example, where there's a pattern and one answer explaining the pattern actually does fit all cases. Only Travel.SE has users obsessed with them, using them in cases that are equivalent to "add a different answer for every programming language in the world". Only Travel.SE has users who block people from asking when their case isn't covered. Commented Jul 11, 2016 at 10:15

What you call an encyclopaedic question is referred to as a canonical question in SE jargon. Many, if not most, SE sites use, accept, and rely upon these to close duplicates of commonly asked questions. Canonical questions are usually specific to a problem that is generic enough to have a high likelihood of being asked about on the site, yet not too broad as to be closed as off-topic. Thus, the scope of a canonical question inherently depends on the SE site it is being asked on. What is a NullReferenceException and how do I fix it? is a perfect example of a StackOverflow canonical. Whereas, Is there a way to find out if I need a transit visa for a layover in the UK? is a perfect example for Travel.SE.

Do we want 100k questions covering all possible combinations of country of citizenship and travel itinerary with a layover in the UK, or do we want a single canonical explaining the procedure to check if one needs a transit visa for a layover in the UK? Without being obsessed about closing duplicates, I'd say the latter.

Now, what should one do if the suggested canonical does not cover the case currently being discussed? I think the correct strategy to go about this is to extend the canonical to include as many cases as possible. Let's go back to Is there a way to find out if I need a transit visa for a layover in the UK?. Should you find a particular case which is not covered by the canonical, the optimal thing to do would be extending it. This ensures that the all the information relative to this problem can be easily found in one place. As a side effect, this allows to close more duplicates.

Therefore, my counter proposal is to:

  1. Edit the canonical to include the missing information
  2. Vote to close the question at hand as a duplicate

Editing first and then voting to close. This way the canonical is improved and the OP gets an answer. Moreover closing as duplicate ensures that the canonical is linked to and becomes easier to find.

Looking closely at the foreign credit card at USA pumps question: Is there a ZIP code I can enter when paying-at-the-pump in the USA with a foreign credit card? I think there is a fundamental problem with the current canonical: it lists individual countries as if there were different methods working for each. IMHO the only difference to be made is between countries where postcodes contain alphanumerical characters and those where postcodes contain only numbers.

All in all, the tentative solutions to the problem seem to be the following:

  1. Use your postcode, regardless of whether it is foreign or not.
  2. In case your postcode has letters in it, use only the numbers then pad with zeroes.
  3. If neither work, then use 00000.
  4. Want to be smart about it? Use the postcode of the petrol station so as to be sure that the postcode is correct.
  5. As a last resort, try a random sequence of numbers.
  • Nice answer but could you also touch the point of what to do until the canonical covers the umpteenth exception? And specifically the proposal made in the question here?
    – mts
    Commented Jul 11, 2016 at 11:16
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    @mts I thought I did already: IMHO one should edit the canonical to cover the umpteenth and vote to close. This way the canonical is improved and the OP gets an answer. Will extend the answer.
    – JoErNanO Mod
    Commented Jul 11, 2016 at 11:19
  • I see your edit but I am not sure we are on the same page about this. Your counter-proposal does not take into account timing, which I consider crucial in such a case as this one here (where admittedly the structure of the canonical is bad as you point out). See my answer as well. As is now the new Q is still closed and the canonical still does not cover the case it asked about.
    – mts
    Commented Jul 11, 2016 at 11:25
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    I said it many times in my comments to my post above, but I see that I still didn't get the point across, so I'll try again. You say, "Edit the canonical to include the missing information". This works very well if I know the missing information. But often, only very few people actually know the missing information - you need an expert in the country/situation in question. The way to attract the attention of these rare experts is to have an open, unanswered question (some experts may not visit the site every day, or every week).
    – Eugene O
    Commented Jul 11, 2016 at 13:56
  • If I know the answer, of course I agree that I should add it to the canonical and close the duplicate. My problem is with people who don't know the answer, and vote to close the "duplicate" right away, before the answer to the specific situation is actually addressed in the canonical question. In this case, we're doing a disservice to everyone (the question asker, the potential expert answerer, the site as a whole as a repository of knowledge).
    – Eugene O
    Commented Jul 11, 2016 at 13:58
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    No-one is saying there should never be canonical answers, we're saying the push for them often goes too far here. Stackoverflow has an entire tag for NullReferenceException issues not coverred by the canonical answer. When someone asks, for example, Null Reference When Calling OnTriggerEnter?, which I presume is a case not coverred by the canonical, they're not told "Go away until someone spontaneously edits that edge case into the canonical", the question gets answered. That's how we should do it. Commented Jul 11, 2016 at 14:22
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    And why the anti-question rhetoric? "100,000 questions"... we get 24 questions a day! Why do people here act like we're swamped? Stackoverflow gets 7,700 questions a day, mathematics gets over 400, English gets about 50. The explicit aim of SE is millions of questions. Use canonical questions where there is one pattern and one answer, but don't fear questions where someone's case doesn't fear the pattern! This is a Q&A site! Commented Jul 11, 2016 at 14:25
  • @JoErNanO I've editted a summary into my answer in the hope it won't be misrepresented. Your NullReferenceException example is really useful for illustrating where the line is, thanks. Did you know that over on StackOverflow, Jon Skeet asked a NullReferenceException question about a particular NullReferenceException case that wasn't covered by the canonical? By Travel.SE rules, it'd be closed as a dupe and he'd have to sit and wait in the hope someone spontaneously edited his case into the canonical. Commented Jul 11, 2016 at 14:47
  • @user568458 the NullReferenceException questions are of a whole different league compared to "paying with a credit card in the US" kind of questions. The amount of details involved is simply incomparable.
    – JonathanReez Mod
    Commented Jul 11, 2016 at 21:25
  • +1, please see travel.stackexchange.com/questions/74423/…
    – Gayot Fow
    Commented Jul 27, 2016 at 16:22

I can only agree with the opinion of @EugeneO and the discussion he is starting here is very valuable!

I have made the same point as a comment to the question that got subsequently ignored/contradicted by close voters:

Duplicate of this question: Is there a ZIP code I can enter when paying-at-the-pump in the USA with a foreign credit card? but DO NOT VOTE TO CLOSE as there is no answer for South Korean Visa cards.

Now I agree with you that the new question is a subset of the older question, but there is no answer for the new question there. When you vote to close a question the text says:

This question has been asked before and already has an answer.

where the emphasis is mine. So no, that new question does not have an answer there. Nor will there be a new answer covering the new question anytime soon (unless by sheer luck) if the new question gets closed and falls into the oblivion of dupe-closed questions where only ghosts live.
Attracting attention to this subset of a question is virtually impossible for a new user who did ask a good enough question. I have pointed out similar in comments before closure:

I see your point but the close reason says "This question has been asked before and already has an answer." (emphasis mine) which in this case is just not true! So I suggest to leave this post open until the South Korean credit card case has been answered in the general post and then and only then close it as a dupe! Closing it now will not help the OP nor create an incentive to post new answers for this special case. That's my 2 cent in this.

In this instance IMHO the new question has been wrongly closed because there is no answer in the supposed dupe (as of now).
I will even go further to say that if you want the site to be nagivatable, the supposed dupe should be closed as too broad. As it emerges, there is no general answer like you could use 00000 and it always works, instead there are different answers for each country which means we need in the order of 200 different answers to that post, which is far too broad for our scope.

As much as I support to keep this site organized and navigatable, we are not an encyclopedia but a Q&A.


In the first version of this post I directly endorsed the OPs proposal saying it was basically the same as mine. After a discussion in chat I do see some flaws in that proposal, so let me reduce my endorsal to what I intended in the comment:

So I suggest to leave this post open until the South Korean credit card case has been answered in the general post and then and only then close it as a dupe!

This overlaps with the new counter proposal of @JoErNanO as far as I read it, but then I already have a history of overseeing things...

  • Good edit. Joe's answer demonstrates that he has thought his way through the issue and devised a proposal that could actually work.
    – Gayot Fow
    Commented Jul 11, 2016 at 15:10

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