I have asked a question about the reCAPTCHA system going nuts (unreadable texts, both of them).

That question became a discussion (see the comments) about whether I really should have created a new question about this, because there was already an old post about that topic (with a bounty on it). Basically the question is: what should one do to get the moderators' and developers' attention to an recurring issue?

On one occasion, I have created a new question about some issue once it occurred for the second time after some while. But according to the discussion in the reCAPTCHA question that really isn't the way to go?

So if it really is best to use an old question about some issue to notify the moderators and developers, the issue came back. There are some things to keep in mind:

  • It is really hard to tell whether something is a new problem or it is the same problem (from the end-user perspective)
  • I've bumped a question in the past to get some attention to it (without much luck). Not sure if not seen or just not interested.
  • It also doesn't sound like a good plan to require people to put bounties on old questions when you have been hit by the same problem as mentioned in the old post.
  • Even if we have to bump a question. What do we have to add to it: Issue come back on 12-08-2012? And what happens when the issue is coming back again on 13-09-2012? And on 13-10-2012, etc.
  • What if the original issue is resolved and the old post has an accepted answer and / or has [status-completed] (would that change anything?).

So the questions are:

  • For something that looks like the same issue as an issue posted some while ago: where and how do we notify the correct people?
  • How would an end-user know it is the same issue?
  • How do we make that question popup again to get the attention it deserves?

P.S. I have added my question where all the discussion started, but I think this is a generic question (so not only applies to the specific question that was closed of mine).


Related is this question about the same thing that didn't get closed as a duplicate, so it really isn't clear I think what to do.

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    It also doesn't sound like a good plan to require people to put bounties on old questions when you have been hit by the same problem as mentioned in the old post. Why? I would have suggested this solution. You can even use the bounty text to point out the differences between your specific case and the original question, if any. – Frédéric Hamidi Aug 12 '12 at 18:54
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    For one: not every body can put bounties on questions (yet). That doesn't mean there is no issue. – PeeHaa Aug 12 '12 at 18:57
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    From a certain point of view bounties require the user to "pay" for bringing up the issue. Is that really what we want? – Dason Aug 12 '12 at 19:44
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    @Dason, heh, I did not think about that angle. Your argument, along with the comments under jmort253's answer, has convinced me bounties are not an appropriate solution to this problem, and I hereby retract my suggestion. – Frédéric Hamidi Aug 12 '12 at 19:59
  • You say in your question "require people to put bounties on old questions" - who said this was a good approach, never mind required? It happened in this case but this doesn't mean it was a good use of a bounty or that it will improve the odds of the issue getting fixed (in this case or in general). Yes it is a way to attract attention to a question, but for something that needs to be fixed by someone (or a group) largely unaffected by reputation... – Aaron Bertrand Aug 12 '12 at 21:10
  • @AaronBertrand Just summing up what I could think of – PeeHaa Aug 12 '12 at 21:14

Meta Stack Overflow is the mechanism for which users of the Stack Exchange system submit bug reports and describe problems that he or she is having with the system. As a result, Meta Stack Overflow works a little bit differently than other sites on the network, or at least it should.

For context, the linked duplicate is from January 22, 2011, which is roughly year and 8 months ago. This isn't your typical "We're not accepting questions from this account" style duplicate and is in fact a post that shows research effort, judging from the linked post.

It's absurd to ask someone to post a bounty in response to a bug he/she is facing on the site. Such a rule makes it harder for regular non-meta users to post bugs and harder for new users to report them. While those of us who are regulars on Meta Stack Overflow have plenty of rep to spare, it's bad form to assume that everyone does.

On Stack Overflow, duplicates aren't necessarily a bad thing. They help drive more traffic from search engines to the canonical question, where the meat and potatoes of the answers are kept. If the duplicate is a good post, it generally receives upvotes.

Likewise, if people are experiencing similar but slightly different problems with the network, then it may be best to post a new question on the topic, with new information and new updates on the error messages received as well as any other information on the topic that will help moderators and community managers escalate the issue to developers (or provide a solution if one already exists). If in the end that post just happens to be a duplicate, then so be it, but it seems very awkward to modify an old bug report with new information, invalidating existing answers, and confusing the heck out of everyone in the process.

Now, I'm not saying every duplicate deserves upvotes. For instance, the "We are no longer accepting questions from this account" are just noise, since they're asked several times per day, and the answers don't change from question to question. Bugs, or things that aren't asked daily with very simple and well documented answers, on the other hand, should probably be looked at with a little more objectivity and understanding.

  • If the bug has already been reported and is in the process of being fixed, I do not find adding emphasis to the existing report much more absurd than posting a me-too duplicate. Just my two cents :) – Frédéric Hamidi Aug 12 '12 at 19:07
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    @FrédéricHamidi - Go back and read the post Petra linked to. It's from January 22, 2011. It's a year and 8 months old. Lots have changed since then. Also, "me-too" comments aren't typically well-detailed posts spaced out over 8 months. – jmort253 Aug 12 '12 at 19:11
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    We are not talking about me-too dupes here. We are talking about old dupes and recurring issues as stated in my question – PeeHaa Aug 12 '12 at 19:12
  • I went back and re-read both posts, and to my eyes the two problems are still actually the same (captchas being impossible to solve). Granted, the new question is about the other word in the captcha, and that's why I suggested putting this information in the bounty text. I understand this solution may not seem optimal for the affected user's point of view, but I still think it's more efficient (community-wise) than creating a new question... – Frédéric Hamidi Aug 12 '12 at 19:22
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    It seems less than optimal to ask a user to go earn some rep on meta and then post a bounty, and it's even more less-optimal considering new users wouldn't know the answers to meta posts here in order to earn that rep. I realize Petra is a bit more established, but submitting bug reports as bounties is a bit excessive on Meta, especially considering bounties don't always get the attention of mods and devs. – jmort253 Aug 12 '12 at 19:27
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    Completely agree here. This is the key: «It's absurd to ask someone to post a bounty in response to a bug he/she is facing on the site.» We're talking about a usability issue with the site itself; as opposed to a programming problem, there's no way for earlier answers to actually help the current poster. Further, duplicates are just not the issue on Meta that they are on SO proper. There are enough of us wasting our days away camped out on the Questions list that true and problematic duplicates are quickly and easily handled. (Even older groups of dupes are regularly cleaned up here.) – jscs Aug 12 '12 at 19:34

My solution was to post an answer on the existing question indicating that the problem still existed, which bumped the question and got it quite a bit more attention. I'd be interested to see what the dev team recommends though.

If the existing problem report was marked then I'd definitely post a new question.

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    +1 - it would be different if it were marked as status-completed. I also posted an answer on the original question showing some particularly bad captchas I came across in a short time, some of which have both words unsolvable. – Aaron Bertrand Aug 12 '12 at 21:13
  • Will this (adding a new answer saying: "I got this problem again!") give enough attention to the issue when there are already answers (perhaps even with upvotes)? – PeeHaa Aug 13 '12 at 11:39

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