I know that it's okay to ask a question to get a canonical answer to link to, but how should I look for the best example of an existing common question before I start fishing for a canonical one?

I've tried to search for a certain question*, but I'm not finding anything nicely canonical. I'd like to find out what strategies other users employ to look for canonical answers to link to, in case I'm overlooking something obvious.

*In this case, the notorious "mysql group by?" that haunts my nightmares.

  • 6
    An asterisk makes me search for a footnote and I'm annoyed there isn't one... Commented Nov 16, 2011 at 16:17
  • 1
    Duly footnoted, it has been. Commented Nov 16, 2011 at 16:20

1 Answer 1


Here are a couple tips. First, don't search if it has already been done for you.

  • Use the list of related questions in the sidebar. If a question is asked enough, the related list is sure to include some duplicates.

  • Use the suggested duplicates from the close/flag windows. If you click Flag > It doesn't belong here > Exact duplicate, (or Close > Exact duplicate) there is a list of possible duplicates which have been frequently linked or used as a duplicate close reason.

If these lists don't provide a good duplicate, use the Advanced Super Ninja Search Options. These will help you filter bad duplicates out of the search results. For example:

  • A good duplicate will have an accepted answer.
  • It will usually have a decent number of upvotes.
  • It will probably not be closed.
  • The title will contain some key words. These may show up in the body of other, non-duplicate questions, so narrow your search by requiring them in the title.

Note that the number of upvotes on the answer is more relevant than the number of upvotes on the question, but the closed and title search options only work for questions, so you may need to run two searches. It would be nice if those options worked on the question containing an answer too.

Example Searches:

Accepted answers in the MySQL tag with at least 10 upvotes which contain the phrase "group by": [mysql] "group by" votes:10 isaccepted:1 is:answer

Unclosed questions with an accepted answer in the MySQL tag that have the phrase "group by" in the title: [mysql] closed:0 hasaccepted:1 is:question title:"group by"

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .