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First off, if this is an exact duplicate somewhere, I will find it quite ironic (and even more clearly need an answer to this question...).

I am wondering how to best find duplicate questions. Currently, I try to use a combination of "I remember a question about this..." and then browsing tags or searching terms. Normally this doesn't work so I resort to a google search with site:_____.stackexchange.com as a search term and what I believe would be keywords. Note this might be site:workplace.stackexchange.com or site:stackoverflow.com depending on what site.

I notice a lot of questions closed as duplicates (rightly so) which leads me to believe I'm missing something about this. Or is it as simple as some people having spent so much more time on SE sites that they have read and thus remember most questions?

What is the best way to find duplicate questions?

As a note, this question is related and this question is somewhat related (but doesn't directly address my question nor do the answers).

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marked as duplicate by ChrisF Jan 31 at 20:19

This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question.

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site:stackoverflow.com is what I use. –  Robert Harvey Dec 28 '12 at 20:22
    
@RobertHarvey I do that as well (for example I might use site:workplace.stackexchange.com) –  enderland Dec 28 '12 at 20:23
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People tend to stick to topics they are familiar with, topics about which they have asked questions and/or provided answers. It's likely that they recognize the duplicate because they posted either the question or an ansewr. In that case, they can either find it in their list of posts or do a quick keyword user:me search. –  Jim Dec 28 '12 at 20:23
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The Related list is astonishingly good. Read new questions in tags that attract newbies and you will find duplicates all day –  Kate Gregory Dec 28 '12 at 20:50
    
I have bookmarked the most common. Makes searching real quick. –  Daniel Fischer Dec 28 '12 at 21:44

3 Answers 3

Many dupe-CVs are from memory. Remember, most folks do not use all of SO, only certain tags. They have good memories within those tags. Also, some posts keep getting duplicated, so after a while of camping out on a tag, you learn to recognize and close these.

Aside from that, there are three ways to find a dupe:

enter image description here

Searching for a similar question is the first one. You may want to try out the new search engine (see A new search engine for Stack Exchange)

Aside from that, a quick glance at the "related" toolbar can let you know about possible dupes.

Lastly, if you copy paste the question title into the title box at the ask question page, you are presented with a list of possible dupes. Though I doubt anyone does this, the related list is pretty good at getting this job done.

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I'm always putting keywords into the [Ask Question] title box. I find it gives much better search results than SE's actual Search page :) –  Rachel Dec 28 '12 at 20:37

A few methods for finding duplicates:

  • If you asked (or answered) the question already*: Look at your profile and find the question (or answer) in your list of questions (or answers). Alternately, do a search of the site with a keyword or two from the question and the user:me filter (narrowing the list further with the isanswer filter).

  • You've seen a question like it before: Seach the site for keywords. It's not as effective as the above two examples since you can't filter it to a particular user's posts, but you can narrow it down by tags. You can also use an external search engine (Google is your friend here) to search the site, but you can't really filter by tags that way.

  • Related questions: Look at the list of related questions (right side of the page). Is there a duplicate there?

  • Suggestions based on title: Click "Ask Question" and type in the question's title (or a variant that desribes the problem) and see if any of the suggestions that come up are duplicated by the new question.

*Similar method applies in the less likely case where you didn't post yourself, but you know who did.

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I recently saw this meta post about a new Search Engine for SE that looks like it will allow for better quality searches, however until that's rolled out to all the other sites my other ways of finding duplicates are:

  • Google the question or relevant keywoards. SE does a good job at SEO, so its highly likely if there's an existing duplicate that it will show up in the first few links.

  • Use the site:stackoverflow.com or site:____.stackexchange.com search hint to limit my search results to only SE's site

    Or in my case since I use Google Chrome: F6 to select URL area, st + Tab to autocomplete "stackoverflow.com", Tab to trigger the site-specific search, search keywords to look for, then Enter to run the search. Much faster for me :)

  • Attempt to use SE's site with some [tag] filters to narrow my search down to a more relevant set of questions

  • Go to the [Ask Question] page and put all the keywords from the question (including tags) into the Title box and see what matches show up

  • Look through the Related questions that show up on the right side of the question. They're actually pretty good at finding related questions.

  • As a last resort for when I'm desperate, I sometimes use Data.SE to do a text search on the contents of posts for a key word or phrase that I remember.

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