I thought about the current ways to handle duplicates and how the system could be improved.
First thing, duplicates today are hard to close, not enough people vote, you get a lot more reputation/badges when you answer a question than when you're explaining that's a dupe, etc.
In this post I will talk about 3 things :
- DQ : Duplicate question, the newer question
- OQ : Original question, the older question
- DA : Duplicate answer, a new type of answer which only contains a link to the OQ. The DA unicity is based on the OQ link and the DQ on which it's posted.
How could this system be improved?
Give incentive for finding duplicate questions.
Best thing to do is giving incentive for a OQ finding, this way users who answer to a DQ take part to the community and are rewarded for their work.
But how could this be done?
Here is the problem, today posting an answer with a link to OQ isn't acceptable.
But yet it should be, after all isn't this an answer? Doesn't it help the OP with his question?
There is the close option (reserved to high reputation users) but it isn't really an answer, just a simple comment, and if the post is closed, a simple message explaining why.
Proposed better way of handling duplicates.
DA can be an alternative to a classic answer. Today it's impossible to say to every users "it's okay to post a link to the OQ as an answer", so a new type of answer, a DA would allow a new way to detect duplicates.
With a special textfield, the answerer could enter the URL of the OQ (like the "This question is a duplicate of which other question?" pane).
What is the point of having a new kind of answer?
- You can upvote/downvote. The community is doing the moderation, not the first 5 persons which come to close the topic, or the 5 next which vote to reopen it, etc.
- As it's a new system, new steps in the reputation could be added. One to create DA, one for voting up and one for voting down. This way more people are involved in the cleaning work.
- DA are visible, they're not hidden in a ton of comments, written in a 50 height pixels line mostly ignored by the OP.
- It's based on the current answer system. Really easy to understand, no new crazy features or anything else (I'm speaking for users only)
- A The system can control that this DA is unique. A DA containing a link a certain OQ can't be posted twice. Multiple DA (based on different OQ) can be posted, the best ones will earn reputation
- More than 12 votes a day are allowed
- It's a more community-oriented solution
What are the rules?
- You can't post a DA if this one as already been posted
- You can gain/lose reputation if your DA is the right one or not
- You don't gain/lose reputation when you vote on a DA. You're only moderating, so no reputation
- If a DA has a better score than the accepted answer, it should be listed before in the answers list
- As a standard answer, a DA has comments. The DA only contains a link to the OQ, if the answerer wants to add more information, he can use the comments
- A DA can't be edited
- Only the owner/moderators can remove a DA
- A DA can be flagged for a moderator attention
- A DA can't become a community wiki
- A post which contains a DA is closed if this DA is the most voted answer and if the score of the said DA is more than 5
- If any classic answer has a better score than the DA, the post is reopened
- If the DA is downvoted to a score under 5 the topic is reopened (unless another DA is eligible by the above rules)
- A DA can't be migrated
With this new system you can add later more features (I don't prone any of them, it's just additional features that could be done) :
- new badges
- different rights to post a DA (I think that anyone [or at least almost anyone] should be able to post a DA)
- different rep amount needed upvotes/downvotes a DA
- different rules to close a post based on DA (a minimal number of votes, most voted answer, parallel vote system, etc.)
- no reputation for classic answers of the closed post
- no reputation for the OP (or only negative reputation) if the post is close
- add an easy way to migrate your answer from the DQ to the OQ (regain of reputation if the 4th point is applied)
What do you think about this idea?
I know it's a lot of work, but hey, it would completely change the way questions/answers work. The good questions/answers would be more consulted/accessed and the dupes would be simply ignored later.