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A recent question was a common duplicate. (16 duplicate questions were posted in the comments!)

Based on my experience that it's hard to get a question deleted when it has answers (especially upvoted ones) I downvoted the existing answers to:

  1. Encourage the authors to delete them.
  2. Encourage the authors to search for duplicates before answering a FAQ.
  3. Ease the path to question deletion.

Should my behavior be considered beneficial to SO (dampening noise) and encouraged, or considered harmful (discouraging answers) and discouraged?

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These questions are probably relevant. –  Rob Hruska Feb 8 '12 at 16:02
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@RobHruska Kinda ironic, eh? hehe... I wonder if Adam and I should be down voted for answering this question... </tongueInCheek> –  Andrew Barber Feb 8 '12 at 16:08
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I know sympathy votes are frowned upon, but in this case I upvoted that answer to counter your -1 :) –  Bart Kiers Feb 8 '12 at 16:11
    
Most amusing, @Rob :) –  Phrogz Feb 8 '12 at 16:12
    
@Bart Oh noes! :) –  Phrogz Feb 8 '12 at 16:13
    
@Phrogz - Indeed. Really, though, when it comes to meta, pretty much everything's a duplicate of everything else. –  Rob Hruska Feb 8 '12 at 16:22
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I downvote answers to duplicate questions if the answerer has the rep for a VTC and I know they know better. A lot of these will get answered because it's easy rep-farming. –  JNK Feb 8 '12 at 18:10

2 Answers 2

I really wish people wouldn't lose their minds over duplicates. Why is it so important to you that a dup get deleted? Having multiple duplicate questions, likely with slightly different titles, provides more paths for Google to shuttle people to Stack Overflow. That's a good thing.

So no, I certainly would not downvote good answers to questions that have been asked before.

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I agree; The reason for the automatically generated link to the original is to help with that; and the existence of those differently-worded duplicates actually helps for those who pay attention to the "Related" list that pops up while typing a question. I also note the "merge" feature in my answer, as something that expects good answers will also be left on dupes. –  Andrew Barber Feb 8 '12 at 16:08
    
@Andrew - for sure. Exact duplicates for trivial questions will be merged, as they should be. –  Adam Rackis Feb 8 '12 at 16:10
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I appreciate your opinion; it is important to me that we not proliferate or encourage duplicates. –  Phrogz Feb 8 '12 at 16:11
    
@Phrogz I would agree with that, but we have to settle on a reasonable way to accomplish that. For instance, we do not have an "expert review" process where questions are not posted publicly until someone certifies that it is not a duplicate - even though that would reduce dupes significantly. We also need to balance it with usability and approachability. I think it is for those goals that the current close-vote system was designed. –  Andrew Barber Feb 8 '12 at 16:15

Ultimately, your legitimately-registered votes need not answer to anyone but yourself. If you believe that an answer to a frequent duplicate is "Not helpful", then down voting would seem to meet the spirit of that feature's intent.

Two things come to mind, though;

First, the votes probably won't have the effect you want without doing what you did on the question you link: Commenting why you down voted. But I'm not convinced such a comment/down vote will accomplish your goal. In the case of some folks, it may encourage them to do the exact opposite.

Second, questions that are duplicates are eligible to be merged, for the situation where a duplicate receives good answers and the 'original' question seems canonical enough. So, the system was designed for this to happen.


I don't think I would do this, myself. Duplicates will happen, and people posting answers won't always have any clue a duplicate existed. Often, a duplicate might get a better answer than the 'original' ever did - which I expect is why the 'merge' option exists for mods.

I would simply mark the post as a duplicate, and leave it at that. Don't up vote any of the answers.

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But I'm not convinced such a comment/down vote will accomplish your goal. In the case of some folks, it may encourage them to do the exact opposite. - I could actually see it resulting in a net gain in reputation to the answerer, with some people applying a "counter/sympathy-upvote", since the answer's probably a correct and helpful one. –  Rob Hruska Feb 8 '12 at 16:09

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