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Is it too hard to locate duplicate questions?
How can Stack Overflow discourage duplicate questions?
Give an incentive for finding duplicate questions

Hi,

Every minute there are tons of new questions asked on stackoverflow. Some of them where already asked in the past though..
Let's say that today I asked a question for which I realized it was probably a duplicate of another question. Or even worse, I know I could solve my problem by using one of the answers found. But hey, what do I care..? I will get an answer to MY question soon enough. Without making the effort of googling it out first.
I'm sure I'm not the only one who's lazy enough to simply post his question and refresh once in a while to see if there's an answer to MY concrete question.

What could be done (more) to prevent (or discourage) users from asking questions which have already been asked?

Reduce reputation when a question got marked as duplicate?
I'm a bit scared to get down voted on this one :)

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Poetically, yours is also a duplicate :) –  slugster May 23 '11 at 18:25
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Poetically, it was my intention ;) The thing is, that I didn't know there is something like meta. So I first searched my question on the 'normal' stackoverflow.com –  TweeZz May 23 '11 at 18:50
    
    
Crap, just wanted to vote, forgot it would automatically close. –  Won't May 23 '11 at 18:52
    
Will, I will stop worrying about dupes :) –  TweeZz May 23 '11 at 18:53
    
Crap, lazy me, if only I googled for "discouraging duplicate questions" –  TweeZz May 23 '11 at 19:01
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migrated from stackoverflow.com May 23 '11 at 18:13

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marked as duplicate by ChrisF, fretje, Cody Gray, Pops, Jon Seigel May 24 '11 at 17:05

This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question.

1 Answer

up vote 1 down vote accepted

As I see it, some of the issues with duplicate questions are:

  1. Questioners are sometimes only interested in their own problems (as you mentioned)
  2. "Duplicate" and "Similar" and "Related" are not all the same thing, leading to judgement calls
  3. Questions closed as duplicates are often challenged, pressuring the voters to defend their decisions
  4. Answerers who know the answer and want reputation, may not care that it's a duplicate
  5. Closing as a duplicate is labor and time intensive; many answers and votes can occur before it happens
  6. Simply answering a duplicate is often easier than closing it as a duplicate
  7. A fresh ask of the same question sometimes results in better answers than the old question
  8. Questions with low total views may never get sufficient close votes to ever be closed
  9. If the first close as duplicate vote occurs after the initial burst of views, the question may never be closed, even for a high view question
  10. Closing as a duplicate is essential if the linked original has really good answers

I don't know what to do about all of these issues but I have been thinking about them and the tug-of-war between them. For example, I often go through "old" zero-answer questions (like more than a few hours old) and some of the questions are duplicates or near duplicates. Voting to close them does nothing because the views are all gone. Simply answering the questioner's question seems an expedient way to dispense with the question.

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thx for the elaborate reply :) –  TweeZz May 23 '11 at 18:55
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