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I think everybody with a history of participation can't help but notice the explosive growth of repeated duplicate questions. The work of looking for duplicates and then closing questions has overtaken the work of actually answering questions.

It's become virtually impossible to ask something which hasn't been yet asked. Lately I feel boredom each times I see a new question and start answering it only to realize after the first written sentence that I have answered similar questions five times over or seen them answered some ten times or more. I know where it's going to be going and what answers with what votes it is going to receive before any answer is even written.

It's obviously not the administration fault, it is simply so. The questions is, what to do about it? Engaging more moderators to close and close duplicates won't work because it's already starting to repel users who get mad at their questions closed and become afraid of asking more or perhaps just go away.

The original idea of Jeff stated the the site is for questions that can be answered. Meaning no open-ended discussions. When I first read this I had a casual thought - well, and what's gonna happen when they all are asked and answered? Will it become a museum, a monument of wisdom and knowledge or what?

I'm not sure what to do about it. Perhaps deprecation/versioning of older questions so that their new versions can sparkle the tiresome evening...


I recall one episode from the Star Trek Voyager (anybody knows the title?) when another Q asked Captain Janeway for asylum. He was tired of immortality and wanted to die. They opened a hearing and went on to visit the continuum to evaluate the living conditions there which caused the suffering and the wish to escape it in death. A lifeless picture presented itself to the visitors... a house lone in an open space, two people going about their business, nobody talking. When asked why they were silent, the following was said. It's been so long, all has already been said, all stories told, all jokes are made... there is nothing left to do...

Are we there as well?

UPDATE: Just saw this answer in another question:

Why do a lot of questions from around 2008 seem to have really high upvotes?

Also, some of the core questions got asked early on in the life of the site. Great questions still come around from time to time, but many have already been asked.

Doesn't that confirm my point?

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I feel that this question was asked before... –  Trufa Apr 17 '11 at 17:09
Could you be more specific about which SE site(s) you feel suffer from this problem? I hope for your sake you're not yet at the "Death wish" point where you feel it's the case for all of them. :) I see that your profile here is associated only with the computing-related SE sites though. If you feel you've "seen it all" there, perhaps it's time to explore some new interests? :s (It's nevertheless a valid remark though, new users joining an existing SE site can be intimidated by the amount of questions already asked.) –  Rinzwind Apr 17 '11 at 18:14
possible duplicate of How can Stack Overflow discourage duplicate questions? –  Adam Davis Apr 17 '11 at 20:17
"what's gonna happen when they all are asked and answered?" You grossly underestimate the ability of the human mind to create new ideas, concepts, and things. If knowledge were finite we would most certainly have reached that limit by now. Knowledge is growing faster than even the internet can keep up with. New programming concepts, languages, practices, etc will be created over time, and even the older but common languages, such as C, still have vast depths that are unplumbed. Regardless, this is a philosophical assertion you have made, and there is no point to discussing it here. –  Adam Davis Apr 17 '11 at 20:29
Yes! All the questions have been asked. We've reached the end of the internet! (seriously?) –  Jeff Atwood Apr 18 '11 at 6:53
@Adam "You grossly underestimate the ability of the human mind to create new ideas, concepts, and things" ; theoretically is a noble thought but practically I really don't see this ability on the [google-app-engine][python] tags –  systempuntoout Apr 18 '11 at 9:18
@system There are things we know we know. There are things we know we don't know. There are things we don't know that we know. Then there are things we don't know that we don't know. To claim that we know everything, and what we don't know, we know we don't know, is the height of hubris. Also, please be sure to keep in mind that if a packet hits a pocket on a socket on a port, and the bus is interrupted as a very last resort, and the address of the memory makes your floppy disk abort, then the socket packet pocket has an error to report. It's very important. –  Adam Davis Apr 18 '11 at 14:38
@Jeff Oh we hit the end of the internet years ago. It's really too bad no one has noticed. People have wasted far too much time diddling with it since it ended. –  Adam Davis Apr 18 '11 at 14:41
there's nothing new under the sun. –  bennnnn Dec 19 '12 at 14:09

4 Answers 4

I think that the idea of 'duplicate' expressed in this question fails to capture an important aspect of reality.

Many new questions concern familiar topics. However, the questioner comes to them from his or her particular circumstances. "All happy families are the same, all unhappy families are unhappy differently." These differences are legitimate fodder for new answers that present old wine in the new bottles of the case at hand.

This is not to claim that we don't also have a copious supply of lazy, generic, duplicates. However, at least in tags I follow, I'm seeing a reasonably constant stream of things that deserve an answer, however familiar the topic area.

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+1 for quoting Anna Karenina –  gnat Jul 14 '13 at 22:42

I agree with Rosinante's answer, so I won't repeat it. It was tempting though.

I'd like to add a second point. Technology isn't static. For example, might even be a standard by the end of the year, at which point there'll be a flurry of questions from people not up to date with it when their compilers start defaulting to that.

Plus, every so often somebody invents a new language following this template:

LanguageName combines all the Property1 of PopularLanguage1 with all the Property2 of PopularLanguage2.

Or more frequently a framework/library matching this template:

FrameworkLibrary is a (open source) framework/library (for wonderful description developers|that solves all your problems and runs on your toaster|simplifies something) ah whatever here's a web-2.0 graphic and a really minimalist web page to look at. Also something about stunning user interfaces.

Or occasionally (language paradigm does not actually have to be invented, just come into fashion at that point. Like YoYos).:

LanguageParadigm enables developers to some claim about how LanguageParadigm will result in World Peace or something. Either way, this paradigm is what all the cool kids are using!

Ok that might be slightly tongue-in-cheek, but there is a fair evolution of new technologies and approaches all the time, things that work, things that don't. The hardware platforms are in constant shift, as are the available configurations and environments. It might not always be groundbreaking, avalanche style shifts, but there is a steady trickle of new ideas. Which means there'll always be a steady trickle of new questions.

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I believe this was predicted in 1843, when the then-commissioner of the Patent Office, Henry L. Ellsworth, included the following comment in his report to Congress:

The advancement of the arts, from year to year, taxes our credulity and seems to presage the arrival of that period when human improvement must end.

It's nice to know the time has finally arrived!

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That is an urban legend/quote taken completely out of context. Either way, no he din't: myoutbox.net/posass.htm –  Piskvor Apr 18 '11 at 7:21
@Pan: I'm afraid that you have either failed to read my post or failed to read the link you gave. Either way, please tell me precisely how I've strayed from the truth. –  Gabe Apr 18 '11 at 11:42
I choose option #1 then. I apologize for the misunderstanding, good sir; no offence was intended on my part. –  Piskvor Apr 18 '11 at 12:23

I don't think this is a valid claim for the site though out.

What you say is true only for bad questions.

This site should run out of new question when programmers run out of questions, and we sure do hope that doesn't happen.

Dupe are not so bad, specially since every programmers have to go through a similar learning process, and might be a problem only if the the ones that answer the question are bored and I don't see that pattern.

I might add I personally don't see that are questions are dupes, I have not answered as much questions as you have, but I feel I every day find many fresh questions, interesting for the community and hence, worth answering.

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I think this answer is also a dup –  belisarius Apr 17 '11 at 20:33
@Wether: hehe fair enough! I never got notified for this (or did not notice). Más vale tarde que nunca... –  Trufa Apr 18 '11 at 16:03
Complaining about the SE alerting mechanism is ALSO a dup :) –  belisarius Apr 18 '11 at 16:14

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