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First we should realize that users in fact search for questions not answers. This sounds odd at first but when you think it's obvious.

Knowing the above, how about a list of different ways the question might be phrased attached to each question?

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Your question is tagged [feature-request]. What feature are you requesting? –  Robert Harvey Mar 20 '11 at 21:14
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Did you miss How about a list of different ways the question might be phrased attached to each question? sentence in my question? –  Piotr Dobrogost Mar 20 '11 at 21:36
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Ah, I see. Well, it's hard enough to get some users to write a single coherent sentence. Where would this list come from? –  Robert Harvey Mar 20 '11 at 21:40
    
Well first, this premise isn't correct: "users in fact search for questions not answers", users search for both. The majority of searches are for questions, yes, but not all of them, not by a long shot, which is what your emphasis implies. Optimizing for only questions wouldn't be ideal. –  Nick Craver Mar 20 '11 at 22:00
    
@Robert Harvey Well, it's hard enough to get some users to write a single coherent sentence. Indeed, and this is the problem which my requested feature helps to solve. Each question is being seen by many users and some of them can think of other way to phrase this question but there's no good mechanism allowing them to contribute their version of the question. Creating duplicates for this is not good (see my comment to Gilles's answer) and rephrasing the question in answer to it is not good either because someone may want to add alternative phrasing without giving any answer. –  Piotr Dobrogost Mar 20 '11 at 22:02
    
@Nick Craver If someone already knows answer what's the reason for searching for it? –  Piotr Dobrogost Mar 20 '11 at 22:16
    
@Piotr - to refer to it, usually :) –  Nick Craver Mar 20 '11 at 22:39

3 Answers 3

One of the best ways to insure people find what they want when they search StackOverflow is to be relentless about closing low-quality and off-topic questions. These questions just add noise to the system, so the less of these that exist, the better searches will work.

If you see a low-quality or off-topic question, and you don't have close votes, flag the question for moderator attention. If you have close votes, by all means use them. If you see a question that is so uninteresting that it will not attract enough views to get the necessary close votes, flag it for moderator attention, and a moderator will close it.

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There are many ways to make it easier to find information on the site. I don't see how your description of one of them here relates to my request, however. –  Piotr Dobrogost Mar 20 '11 at 21:33
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Your question was "What could be improved?" If you don't want your question to be open-ended, you should modify it so that it isn't. –  Robert Harvey Mar 20 '11 at 21:44
    
Well this question was rhetoric which you would have seen had you read the following one which you missed as your first comment to my question indicates... –  Piotr Dobrogost Mar 20 '11 at 22:08

There are already mechanisms in place for that, do we need more?

  • A good question would use several different wordings, when applicable, to be understood by a wider audience.
  • If people spontaneously ask the same question using different words, all but one is closed as a duplicate, and the duplicates remain on the site (linked to one “main” question).
  • Anyone can propose an edit to a question, to add wording that they think is relevant. (This last is rather new, so it remains to be seen how much will and should happen.)
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ad 1) I've not seen much of these and I've seen very good questions which could be phrased quite differently. ad 2) Proposed feature would make it possible for someone who sees a question to add alternative phrasing if he knows one. You're not expecting such a person to ask duplicate and wait for it to be closed as such, are you :) –  Piotr Dobrogost Mar 20 '11 at 20:11
    
@Piotr mm, duplicates are usually found by the community. If things go well, a number of differently worded questions will point to the same original question. That is about as much as can be done in this direction IMO - as @Robert says above, it is hard enough to get people to provide a proper question in the first place. Asking them to create synonym lists is not a realistic expectation. SO's whole system is already optimized for searching questions –  Pëkka Mar 20 '11 at 22:02
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@What Asking them to create synonym lists is not a realistic expectation. SO is not about asking anyone but making it possible for users to do valuable things... –  Piotr Dobrogost Mar 20 '11 at 22:12

Editing questions to clarify them is one of the most under-rated activities on SO, and if done properly, would help address this. (Along with closing dupes, killing low quality questions, etc.)

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