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Should we downvote duplicates?

The FAQ specifies that:

Use your downvotes whenever you encounter an egregiously sloppy, no-effort-expended post, or an answer that is clearly and perhaps dangerously incorrect.

But if I find a correct question, closed (or not yet) as duplicate, is downvote a correct behavior for Stack Overflow policy?

  • 7
    You tell me: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/62819/… MUWHAHAHAHAHA! – Bart Jun 11 '12 at 13:28
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    @Bart you teach me that downvote on Meta works differently ;). – gliderkite Jun 11 '12 at 13:29
  • ..except when they don't. (Yeah Bart, that's very clear. No ambiguity there at all...) – Bart Jun 11 '12 at 13:32
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    should I downvote THIS question?? – chharvey Jul 11 '15 at 17:04

The tooltip for a downvote states:

This question does not show any research effort; it is unclear or not useful

And, downvotes are yours and you're free to do what you want with them.

I guess posting a duplicate question can show no (or at least little) research effort; otherwise the user would have come across the duplicate whilst researching.

Personally, I don't downvote when I come across a duplicate, but a duplicate usually has other problems; such as blatant lack-of-effort etc and I would downvote for those reasons.


It depends on how easy the duplicate was to find and how generous you are feeling.

If you type the new question title into the "Ask Question" page and the duplicate shows up at the top of the list of related questions then you could down-vote under the "This question does not show enough research effort" rule. If they've not bothered to check the existing questions on the site then why should you be bothered to up-vote or answer?

At the very least you should leave a comment indicating the duplicate and/or flag it (if you can't vote to close).

  • You shouldn't need to visit the ask question page, the Related sidebar element should have most/all of the same questions I think – Ben Brocka Jun 11 '12 at 16:09
  • @BenBrocka - true. But doing it that way shows you exactly what the poster was shown. – ChrisF Jun 11 '12 at 16:11

It is all based on your judgement.

If I believe that the user put no effort whatsoever into finding the duplicate, then I vote down.

But if I see that the OP genuinely might not have known. I try to help point them in the correct direction.


I'd say if the question is perfectly fine except the fact that it's a duplicate there is no reason to downvote it - I'd rather upvote it.

Of course I'd also (vote to) close it as a duplicate.

  • +1. I would upvote only if it looks like the OP was searching for a duplicate before asking. I will no upvote every question asking about DOM ready or jQuery on VS live etc', which have 100 duplicated questions. – user173320 Jun 16 '12 at 20:34

Exact dupes? As in, reposts of the same question by the same user? Sure, why not. Punish the wicked, I say.

Similar questions which are trivial? As in, "what does the + operator do?" Okay, downvote that. It was a bad question to begin with.

Questions which cover somewhat the same ground? Can't we just live and let live?

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