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Just to show that I'm not only getting upset by newbie users, I've noticed that a lot of "front-page" users don't seem to be particularly bothered about posting answers to duplicate posts.

Now, everyone knows that the SO search is hopeless, but using Google you can usually find dupes with little trouble. And of course you can forget that you've seen a dupe before, so some answering of dupes is inevitable. But it does seem to me that high rep users should be making more effort to close dupes down - sometimes I feel I'm the only one doing it.

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In case readers are wondering where it went, the question linked above has been merged into stackoverflow.com/questions/2297441/… –  Greg Hewgill Feb 19 '10 at 22:32
    
Talking about using Google to search dupes, or shall I call it irony, or do you really think this problem is different from the one on SU? meta.stackexchange.com/questions/38391/… –  Ladybug Killer Feb 20 '10 at 9:16
    
Egregious example (3 of the first 4 answers from users with close privileges): stackoverflow.com/questions/2315705/… –  dmckee Feb 23 '10 at 2:27

5 Answers 5

Frankly, I see this behavior more often from front-page users. And that's not surprising - answering questions quickly is a proven method of gaining rep, and knowing how to gain rep is why they're high-rep users in the first place!

That said, I did see one user delete his answer after I'd posted links to 4-5 existing instances of the same question. That was encouraging...

I still think we need more merging. It's the only way to actually force users to answer existing questions instead of scattering and duplicating their answers across every possible phrasing.

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You are not the only one trying hard to police duplicates. I suspect that I cast more duplicate votes than all other categories combined (and migrating votes make up the majority of the remainder).


That said, I've been guilty of it myself (though I've never been of page one rank).

There are some questions where it is just easier to bang off an answer than find a duplicate, and if I'm not paying attention I sometime do exactly that. When I notice I

  1. Make my answer CW. So I won't accumulate a ot of rep that will be lost in a later recalc
  2. Vote to close.

The marginal, kinda-sorta, maybe dups that Lance is talking about are another matter. If I think that they are not duplicates I answer them and leave it at that.


See also: Should we encourage more closing?

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@dmckee "There are some questions where it is just easier to bang off an answer than find a duplicate" - I know, and like you I have done it myself. Sigh. But I do think high rep users should be both closing and downvoting a lot mote than they seem, to be doing. The site is supposed to moderated by the users after all (which for me is the main thing that makes it superior to a moderated Usenet group) , and if high-rep users don't do it, why should anyone else? –  nb69307 Feb 19 '10 at 22:00
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@Neil: I've been known to chide a high rep user in the comments. But not often, I mean, who want to be a scold all day long. I'm with 'ya, but I don't have much to suggest. –  dmckee Feb 19 '10 at 22:03

Good on you for noticing this question was an exact duplicate. Of course, you would easily have known that since you saw and commented on the original version.

The first version of that was posted 6 hours before the second, at a time when I was fast asleep. Since I didn't see the original one (and, truth be told, I don't search for exact duplicates of every question I answer), I had no way of knowing that same question had been posted before.

I don't appreciate the implication that since I'm a so-called "front page" user, I have no qualms about posting answers to duplicate questions. How was I to know that question was a duplicate? There are zillions of examples of me voting to close a duplicate question without jumping in to answer it, especially if I've already answered it before.

I don't like to have to answer the same question twice.

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I'm sorry I somewhat unfairly picked on you. I'll remove the link. My point is about high-rep users in general, not you (or me!) particularly. –  nb69307 Feb 19 '10 at 22:32
    
I don't mind the link, I'll leave my comment. :) –  Greg Hewgill Feb 19 '10 at 22:34

In principle, I agree with you that some of the first-page users on SO aren't pulling their mod weight. On the other hand, participation and community moderation are not required activity on the Trilogy. At the end of the day, a very high-ranking SU user said it very well (I can't find the post currently, so I'm paraphrasing): "If I knew that every time I hit 3,000 rep I'd have to start doing moderator work, I'd create a new account every time I hit 2,999!"

I see a lot of close activity going on over in SO, and when I have the opportunity, I try to use up my votes to help out as well. I'm not so sure this is that huge a problem there. Again, I agree in principle that all of us with 3,000+ should be helping contribute to the cleanup effort, and I again do try to do so (I find it much more entertaining than actually, y'know, answering questions), but it's not required for anyone. It's all volunteer at the end of the day.

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It's perfectly acceptable to answer a question AND vote to close. Since a post may not actually get closed for being a dupe, a good answer needs to be attached to it anyway.

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@Lance well, I don't agree with that, but these guys are not voting to close. –  nb69307 Feb 19 '10 at 21:48
    
Especially since what a "dupe" is is subjective, it's not a coincidence that you need 4 people to agree with you. You can't know in advance whether the community thinks it's a dupe or not. Also (for some reason here on meta in particular) many times the proposed "dupes" are just similar, not "exact duplicates", so it's a good idea to answer the person's question which may not be answered (at least fully) in the dupe. –  Andreas Bonini Feb 19 '10 at 21:49
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@Neil, I agree that the 3ks need to be more proactive in closing. –  Lance Roberts Feb 19 '10 at 21:51

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