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I have one feature-request with the objective of having duplicate questions with no answers:

  • To (try to) avoid people answering duplicate questions, add an alert that says the question has a probable duplicate if it has a close vote as Exact duplicate, asking the answerer to go to the original and answer there.

What do you think?
My objective is letting the duplicate question exist for search purposes, but the answers centralized in the root question.

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+1 for the first suggestion –  ChrisF Feb 23 '10 at 15:07
    
Removed the second suggestion, I wasn't entirely convinced about it in the first place –  jmfsg Feb 23 '10 at 15:10
    
Great suggestion in my opinion. It would help educating a bit some users who have tendency indeed to post an answer on a duplicate. Having such a message could discourage such behavior. –  Gnoupi Feb 23 '10 at 15:18
    
One issue you would have to deal with is what if each of the two duplicate questions have the same number of votes to close as duplicate? it would mean no one could answer either question –  Sam Feb 23 '10 at 15:25
    
@Sam, I'm not saying block the user from answering, just suggest him –  jmfsg Feb 23 '10 at 15:28
    
If this were to be implemented, would it only be shown to users with enough reputation to close? –  Rich Seller Feb 23 '10 at 17:32
    
I've suggested an alternative solution here: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/44173/… –  Adam Davis Mar 26 '10 at 18:55

3 Answers 3

up vote 7 down vote accepted

Before the current duplicate-closing system was implemented, many users took the time to edit in the duplicate links manually. This provided a very visible "heads-up" to other users.

This is discouraged now of course, as such edits will end up causing duplicate duplicate links when the question is finally closed. However, you can still leave comments - and you should leave comments.

I also recommend up-voting existing comments that link to the original(s) when you vote to close, as a way of reinforcing the validity of the links...

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Some things to think about:

  1. Should this information be displayed to users with less than 2000 reputation? Currently you don't see close votes until you reach that threshold. Since I imagine this warning would be most useful to new users, it seems like otherwise you risk excluding the people who need it most, but this would require a change (albeit a small one) in the reputation thresholds.

  2. Telling the user to answer the duplicate question might not be the best idea - since it's possible (or even likely) that the answer they were about to give has already been given there. Perhaps something like "consider answering the original" might do.

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You are right, the second one is too difficult I guess, I had doubts about it, I'll remove it –  jmfsg Feb 23 '10 at 15:08
    
Good idea about adding a "consider answering the original (if your answer is not already there)" sentence as well. Finally, it's not about discouraging answers, only about having them in one good place. –  Gnoupi Feb 23 '10 at 15:19
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Not sure if this is what you mean with 1), but: it might indeed be sufficient to show the close count (and reason?) to everybody. That way everyone could decide for themselves if answering seems applicable. –  Arjan Feb 23 '10 at 16:16

I like the idea, but I fail to see a good implementation.

First, how to simply phrase it so that you convey:

  • It may be a duplicate, but might not be.
  • Point them to the (possibly multiple) duplicate(s)
  • Encourage them to not answer this one if they agree that it's a duplicate
  • Encourage them to review the existing question and add their input

Second, even a simple warning might scare some people away from answering it, which would be a negative effect before we have consensus that it actually is a duplicate. That discouraging message seems a bit heavy handed for only one dupe close (I've already seen a bad dupe vote today).

There's a reason we require 5 votes before concluding that it should be closed. Adding a preemptive message should be very carefully considered.

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Well, it could be 2 or 3, close votes come pretty fast when it's an obvious duplicate –  jmfsg Feb 23 '10 at 15:28
    
But again, this seems like a lot of trouble for something that doesn't hurt anyone. –  Adam Davis Feb 23 '10 at 15:29
    
But it does hurt, having answers to the same question scattered all over the place –  jmfsg Feb 23 '10 at 15:33
    
@Downvoter - I'll grant you that it's not ideal - but does it actually hurt? The worst case scenario is that a dupe isn't closed, it gets a few answers, and the OP and later people who use that particular search phrase might not see the other questions that are essentially the same? It's not ideal, but they are all answered. In cases where the answer doesn't fit or is incomplete, they would google more and eventually hit upon the other versions of the same question. But if the answer is right, then it doesn't matter that it exists 27 times in the database with different wording. –  Adam Davis Feb 23 '10 at 16:41
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how about "this question has been flagged as a possible duplicate of [X,Y...], consider reviewing the possible duplicate(s) before answering" –  Rich Seller Feb 23 '10 at 17:31

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