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The "related questions" list is already very good at what it does.

What about taking this a step further and trying to provide the answer right there? That would blow me away, honestly.

Google has begun to implement this. If you type "height of the Empire State Building" in the search bar, it comes back with a best guess of 1250 feet ... which is the right answer. It bases its guess on answers at several websites.

There could be similar criteria here. If several users give more or less exactly the same answer quickly after a question is asked, or if a two- or three-line answer to a question is the runaway winner compared with competing answers, then the engine could call the shot and say, "Just a hunch, but try this ..."

Yes? No?

Another tack: Crowdsource it to reduce complexity / computational burden. This would also have the effect of reducing the number of duplicate questions asked. Start with the questions that have had the most questions closed as duplicates of said questions. These are common questions. Have people with reputation >= X vote on / edit the accepted answer. If Y votes are cast for making this the canonical answer to the question, then it is so.

Or, even easier: Of the related questions that would be chosen anyway, mix into the ranking algorithm which one has the best accepted answer, and display that answer right there.

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Very interesting idea, but probably way too complex and expensive to implement. –  Pëkka May 3 '11 at 16:34
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I like the idea, but it's easier to go shopping. –  Robert Harvey May 3 '11 at 16:35
    
Where and when exactly is this suggested to be implemented? When trying to ask in the first place, like the related questions list? Or at some other point in time? –  Grace Note May 3 '11 at 16:56
    
@Grace Note: When trying to ask in the first place (i.e., instantly) -- before/above/instead of the related questions list. If it's a common question (see my edit above) then it saves experiences users taking the trouble to close the question as a duplicate. –  John May 3 '11 at 16:59
    
Ah, I see what you mean. It should judge based on votes, I imagine - people often complain about sub-par accepted answers, so this would be a clean way to assert how community voting is the more important metric for the question as a whole, while acceptance just refers to that one original author's problem. This certainly takes the step off of having to click to find the answer (what I oft figure is why people still post dupes), so it piques my interest. –  Grace Note May 3 '11 at 17:01

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