I just realized that there are several questions on Stack Overflow with very similar titles, such as Generics in Java and Java Generics (capitalization may differ). Today, Can I add to a generic collection of type A values of type B ,which extends A, without any special syntax? was asked; in my opinion it covered exactly the same ground as one of the previous questions. (the OP has since modified the title.)

If a user asks a question with exactly the same title as a previous one, then this cannot be a good thing:

  1. The questions are the same, in which case it would be a duplicate.
  2. They are not the same, in which case they should not have the same title.

The second point might be relaxed to allowing questions to have identical titles if their main tags (tags with highest frequency) are different (e.g. one is about Java, while the other is about Python).

Could something like this be implemented? Do other people here think this is useful? Do you have arguments against it?


This is much more widespread than I thought. I added a call-to-arms. I think the simple answer to your points is, if titles are duplicates, this should be a flashing red light that these questions should be flagged as duplicates or edited to improve quality.

  • There are 10,881 question pairs with identical titles on Stack Overflow. – M. Tibbits Aug 31 '11 at 15:32
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    Good Golly Ms. Molly. I suggest making your comment part of your answer. – Tim Post Aug 31 '11 at 17:18
  • I like how "Help with SQL query" is apparently an extremely popular title (used 13 times). But it seems that your query counts all possible pairs for this question meaning 91 of them? Which is even more extreme for "Object reference not set to an instance of an object". – Wladimir Palant Sep 21 '11 at 7:47
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    Much slower query but more accurate results I guess: there are 5,827 question titles used more than once. – Wladimir Palant Sep 21 '11 at 7:58

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