Closing as dupe is one of the harder things high-rep users and moderators do. It involves a lot of judgement in order to be done right.

We have to determine how close of a duplicate a question is. Sometimes its a 100% duplication of the original question (noobs). This is the easy case--close as dupe and merge. Sometimes a question kinda sorta covers the same area as a previous question, and we should leave it alone. There is no way to determine where this line is; it is completely arbitrary.

In addition, there is the desire, expressed by many people [citation needed], to codify the best particular question on an identifiable subject as "The Question" of which all other similar questions are duplicates.

I would suggest that we can combine both of these into a single change to StackExchange. I suggest that the number of times a question is used as a "close as duplicate" reason be kept and displayed when the closs-as-dupe dialog is shown.

close as dupe dialog with close count

This is not a perfect solution. While chances are that if an answer is suggested as the "best duplicate" it actually is, there is still a chance that it is suggested in error. Also, just because a question has been chosen as the "best duplicate" in the past, it does not mean that it actually is the best question for its subject. And, lastly, there is no guarantee that the true, current canonical answer is known by anyone who votes to close as dupe, thus resulting in a less than optimal selection.

However, I do believe that over time, as this statistic is gathered, it would allow for a number of improvements to the process:

  1. For a common set of tags, canonical question candidates can be reviewed and ranked by close count. Users with high enough rep would have the option to merge "best duplicate" choices together, replacing the "best duplicate" of questions closed as duplicate of A with the better canonical question B.
  2. When voting to close as duplicate, choices can be automatically provided to users (possibly of a certain rep to avoid lazy choices) based on tags and close count
  3. "Best duplicate" choices which have a low close count can be used as a heuristic to determine if the best choice has been made; questionable choices can be listed on the Tools page so high-rep users can review these.

At some point, a [Canonical] tag may be implemented and bestowed on questions with a very high close count. Questions with this tag would be great candidates for improvement over time through user edits. This tag could then be used as a better alternative to the Faq tab, providing a true place where the cream floats to the top.

Dunno. Something I thought about in between builds.

  • 1
    in before someone edits my title.
    – user1228
    Aug 26, 2011 at 20:39
  • @Matthew wouldn't sorting the list by votes and only showing the top 15 or so be a pretty good algorithm? Then if you want to choose a different duplicate you can still paste in the question link, but the most voted are readily available.
    – Paul
    Aug 26, 2011 at 20:52
  • 3
    I think you meant "duplicitous".
    – mmyers
    Aug 26, 2011 at 22:00
  • I like this suggestion. The only thing I worry about is, since it's not perfect [yet], we don't want people to be thinking it's a more accurate measurement than it is and trusting it on blind instinct. As you say, close-as-dupe voting is difficult to do right and does require some thought. Not sure how we fix that, though. Aug 28, 2011 at 0:09
  • Duplicate in spirit (but not in the suggested execution): Improve tools for closing as duplicate
    – Pekka
    Aug 28, 2011 at 15:36
  • 2
    I'd love a "canonical" tag. Maybe auto-awarded to every question that has been marked as a original to a dupe at least thrice
    – Pekka
    Aug 28, 2011 at 15:37
  • Plus +1 for teaching me a new word, "obtuse". I'm a use that for sure
    – Pekka
    Aug 28, 2011 at 15:46
  • We're playing with a few things in this area... stay tuned Aug 30, 2011 at 12:27
  • @MarcGravell: pins, needles.
    – user1228
    Aug 30, 2011 at 13:01
  • +1 for the narwhal (if that's what it is)
    – Benjol
    Sep 1, 2011 at 12:03
  • @Benjol: Same one as is on the ELMAH ads.
    – user1228
    Sep 1, 2011 at 12:55

1 Answer 1


The "how duplicious" aspect is deployed for your perusal; we are still looking at the "best example" side of things, but I think that is largely covered by this other post: Improve tools for closing as duplicate - so unless you feel there is a distinction between the two, I'm going to follow up that side of things on the other question.

(there is more than a little irony in said dupliciousnessnessness)

  • Not sure what has changed. Can you snap a pic of an example?
    – user1228
    Sep 1, 2011 at 12:57
  • @Wont well, that's a bit tricky; it requires somebody to select, as a proposed duplicate, something that has already previously been selected as a proposed duplicate, and then somebody else to go and view the screen to see it. And if you or I try to do that first step, it gets closed immediately (preventing the second). Sep 1, 2011 at 13:05
  • Yeah. Uh. Okay. Derp.
    – user1228
    Sep 1, 2011 at 13:09
  • @Wont and to emphasise: we're still actively working on a number of ways to improve the duplicate process. This isn't the final position. Sep 1, 2011 at 13:24
  • The Gotcha robot understands.
    – user1228
    Sep 1, 2011 at 13:27
  • @Wont I'll be expounding more on this answer as we evolve things Sep 2, 2011 at 8:38

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