It's not secret that most of the questions asked today at Stack Overflow were asked before.
While there is a value of several duplicated questions, but there isn't a value if there're hundreds of them. There are questions (Examples from javascript - jQuery tags) like

  • Why $ gives me undefined?
  • Why document.getElementById doesn't return all the elements in the page?
  • Why my events don't apply to newly created elements?
  • How can I return a value from an async ajax call?

Those very basics questions are repeated enormous times, with all kind of forms and shapes.
Usually with a lot of code, bad text and bad title(Probably because they are n00bs questions which don't know what their problem really is)

The situation now is the answers to those questions are splattered all over the site, the answers are localized to the question code\need, don't show all the ways and alternatives and don't explain what is the problem.

Those questions sometimes are not getting closed as exact duplicate, and sometimes they are closed as exact duplicate to a poorly question asked 15 minutes ago.

I thought those questions should be asked in the share your knowledge, Q&A-style.

An example to this kind of Q&A (this question was asked by other user but I edited it to make it more general)

What do you think? Do you agree? Do you have other ways?

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    Related posts about so-called "canonical" questions/answers: meta.stackoverflow.com/search?q=canonical – BoltClock's a Unicorn Jun 24 '12 at 22:29
  • possible duplicate of Dealing with endlessly repeated questions; also here and here and a number of related questions found in the sidebar → – user149432 Jun 24 '12 at 22:37
  • @MarkTrapp and Boltclock, I can't see how those questions (though do related to the subject) answer my question at all. I'm saying there isn't a good full answer to be linked to; It need to be made, Is the Q&A style is the way to go? – user173320 Jun 24 '12 at 22:43
  • It's the "signal to noise ratio" problem. If you make another question, I'm not sure what would prevent it from being lost in the noise. May be worth a try, but then your Q&A post may just be closed as a dupe. There's also the tag-wiki, but I don't know if anyone really looks at those. I say just give 'em a link to W3Schools! :P – user176859 Jun 24 '12 at 23:00
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    I was wondering about the same for a specific issue. The problem is twofold: We need canonical answers and people have to be disciplined enough to vote to close (not all are). With respect to the JS and jQuery tags, maybe we can create some kind of a task force to identify the most frequently asked questions and provide canonical answers for them or improve an already existing answer. It would be at least a start... – Felix Jun 24 '12 at 23:03
  • @Felix. Well, It think we should try this, I see almost every time you cast a close vote the question is being closed quickly so it's worth trying. I'll try it later with an Q&A, let's see how it goes. But editing the existing questions sounds like a pain. Why bother cleaning-up those noobs questions instead of writing a clean-clear straight to the point questions? – user173320 Jun 24 '12 at 23:15
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    No I did not mean that... I mean finding existing good answers for a specific topic and maybe adjust the answer/question to make it canonical... For some questions there are already very good answers, so there is no need to write a new one. Maybe we can start a new meta question for this, like the 2012 tag cleanup, we make a 2012 JavaScript canonical answer thread, where we collect the typical questions and everything related. – Felix Jun 24 '12 at 23:22
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    @gdoron - Editing is something you can do without having to come to meta, and it's also something you can do without fear of your question being closed as a duplicate. Editing is at the core of Q&A and is our greatest tool for cleaning up the site and solving the problems you mention. The only challenge I see is that it is a lot of work to go back and edit everything. A contest, as Felix mentioned, could be a good way to get enough people involved to make it scale. – jmort253 Jun 24 '12 at 23:26
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    Well, I think it has to be organized somehow... we can also just create a Google docs document ;) Unfortunately I will be rather busy the next two weeks (travelling) and won't have time to start something like this, but I would definitely participate later on (and probably this is the point where the whole idea dies again :D). – Felix Jun 24 '12 at 23:26
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    @Felix - No Google docs. Keep it on the SE network. Create a meta post and make it community wiki. This is precisely the type of thing meta is here for. This also encourages the most participation if it's visible and accessible to all. – jmort253 Jun 24 '12 at 23:28
  • @jmort253: You are right... I will think about something to start with and hope some people will join in. – Felix Jun 24 '12 at 23:30
  • @Felix - Since this seems to be becoming quite specific to JS/jQuery, I agree completely (I'm sure other tags have the problem too, I just don't spend much time in other tags). However, I'm not sure there's a need for a central Q&A for specific common questions. I think vote to close is probably enough. I tend to answer even the most commonly asked questions because isn't that the whole point of the SE network; to help those struggling with a problem? (Note that I do always close vote as well as answering). Sometimes it can just be quicker to ask on SO instead of searching. – James Allardice Jun 24 '12 at 23:34
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    @jmort253 - Yeah, I think that's true. And yes, I agree, that is a worthwhile idea. I think the main reason I still answer obvious dupes is that it's often quicker than finding the link to the dupe. This would make it much easier. +1. – James Allardice Jun 24 '12 at 23:39
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    Sorry, but unless StackOverflow changes the system into a more organized resource, any such endeavor is going to require something like the "task force" that @Felix mentioned, only it will require continuous effort. Excuse my cynicism, but somehow I don't think SO really cares about dupes. The way it works right now, they get a ton of site activity. Not sure if they're motivated to change that. – user176859 Jun 24 '12 at 23:59
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    After some discussion, we agreed that during the next weeks, we will extend the (relevant) tag wikis with FAQs (everyone on his own). I already started one for JavaScript a while ago (look at the bottom). Then, after a couple of weeks, we could have a scheduled chat to talk about it and evaluate the answers. If we decide that there are no good enough answers for some questions yet, we can write them. – Felix Jun 25 '12 at 0:53

Based on discussion in this JavaScript chat and information referenced by BoltClock and Mark Trapp, here is what we've concluded:

The Tag Wiki is the best place to keep a list of frequently asked questions. In fact, some tag wikis, such as the "Frequently Asked Questions" section in the Java tag library, already maintain such a list:

NOTE: The questions listed in the Java tag wiki all link to real StackOverflow Java questions:

Frequently Asked Questions

People often ask about the following Java topics:

- Difference between equals() and ==
- How do I compare strings in Java?
- Overriding equals() and hashCode() in Java
- Why NoClassDefFoundError?
- Why did Java have the reputation of being slow?
- How do I avoid null checks in Java?
- How can I convert my java program to an .exe file
- Is List<Dog> a subclass of List<Animal>? Why aren't Java's generics implicitly polymorphic?
- Compare dates in Java
- Is Java pass by reference?
- NoSuchMethodError in Java
- Why can't I print a double correctly?
(Submitters, please only list questions which actually are frequently asked).

The JavaScript tag library, on the other hand, just has a list of questions and brief, inline answers, with no links to real questions asked under the JavaScript tag:

NOTE: The questions listed in the JavaScript tag wiki are not links to StackOverflow questions. This is the area we believe needs work.

Frequently Asked Questions

Find some answers to some of the more frequently asked questions about JavaScript and related technology below.

Q: I have this JSON structure, how can I access property x.y.z?
A: Every structure is different but how to access them is the same. First you have to parse the JSON into a JavaScript object or array. Then access the correct properties or array indexes. To learn about object and arrays, have a look at the MDN JavaScript guide.
It is advisable to inspect the structure step by step to figure out which property or index you have to access, i.e. console.dir(x), console.dir(x.y), console.dir(x.y[2]) etc.

Q: How can I pass a PHP array to JavaScript?
A: pass php array to javascript function

In the chat, we concluded that we don't yet need additional meta or community wiki posts, and that this is something we can do as we answer and vote to close questions in this tag. If we run across a duplicate JavaScript question, we'll simply look for a good example, edit the questions and answers to bring it up to speed, then make an edit (or suggested edit) to the tag wiki to include the example question.

The only concern I have is for those of us who don't have enough reputation to make edits to tag wiki. Will adding a single question be considered a substantial edit? This is debatable.

If this process appears to be sustainable, then it may be helpful to schedule a chat to look at this in greater detail.

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  • What do you think about making a list of topics, like the short list in my "question"? I think I'll try today with unique id attribute in HTML and javascript. Thoughts? – user173320 Jun 25 '12 at 7:32
  • @gdoron - I thought the Java tag was done very well. At the bottom is a FAQ section with links to really great example questions, asked under that tag, that are also frequently asked. The JavaScript tag wiki doesn't have this. It's FAQ section is a little less polished. As a first example question to add to the JavaScript tag wiki, I think what you've done here is a great example of a question that should be added. – jmort253 Jun 25 '12 at 7:38
  • I need to work a bit... so I'll write one Q&A specific to HTML and id and see how it goes. I'll give you a link when I'm done. ~30-45 minutes I guess, as I have catch ups to do at work. – user173320 Jun 25 '12 at 7:44
  • @gdoron - Just be sure to search for existing questions, I feel like it's been well established that self-answering shouldn't be used to create duplicates. Questions should be treated the same as if they were asked without self answering, and new dups would normally be closed as duplicates. Check out this comment and answers for more details. Good luck! :) – jmort253 Jun 25 '12 at 7:56
  • I'm not sure about this case where we want to create good questions and answers. Yes, there're a lot of duplicated, but they're bad full of noise- bad question + bad\average answers + full of comments. We can't make a good thread out of a mess. What do you think? – user173320 Jun 25 '12 at 9:40
  • @I mean, look at this google search results Or this SO search results You know what I mean...? – user173320 Jun 25 '12 at 9:51
  • @gdoron - Mods can delete comments, that doesn't seem to be a valid argument to me, plus, there may already be great answers with lots of upvotes. As Jeff said in his comment, 80% to 90% of the questions you'd want to ask have already been asked, so editing should take precedence. I'd suggest trying the edit route first, since it's been well established that your attempts to create duplicates may not be welcomed by the community. Demonstrate that editing fails first, before going on a vendetta to ignore the work of so many others. – jmort253 Jun 25 '12 at 14:21
  • [cont'd] - For the record, I don't support creating duplicates, I support editing, and if I saw a fresh duplicate I would be inclined to vote to close it. This isn't what self-answering is about. Any question asked as a duplicate should be treated as such, self-answered or not. I really appreciate what you're trying to do and think the questions could use some TLC, but this is a last resort, not a first step. Hope this helps! :) – jmort253 Jun 25 '12 at 14:23
  • I made a suggestion about making it easier to find duplicate questions: Give an incentive for finding duplicate questions. Maybe something similar could be used to "look for a good example" when you run across a duplicate question? – codewaggle Jul 22 '12 at 10:08

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