Let me hope that this is not a duplicate, as I've did some research and havn't found something that is exactly the same!

As I'm getting more "used" to StackOverflow way of working, I'm doing more and more reviewing.

And, like everybody, you always fall on question which is an exact duplicate of another question. Sometimes by new user and sometimes by ancient users. Most of the time the question gets marked as duplicate and finally close.

The thing is that, the user still gets reputation. I do agree that may be the question was well formatted, and writen in a correct english, but as the downvote states does not show any research effort. As it is a duplicate, and if I can find it is a duplicate, then the OP could have prolly found that its answer was already asked and answered. Lets take the case of a new user, that ask a duplicates that I saw today. I did down voted really fast and flagged/commented as a duplicate in order that other people see it also, but still he managed to get 5 upvote for his question. Well that's nice for him BUT we are encouraging a BAD behavior that is not doing research before asking.

I do understand that sometimes those duplicate will add some information not present on the other question, but still make the site harder to maintain and spread the information at more places.

Should the reputation gained on duplicate question be kept, or should the OP rep gains on that question be cancelled? I mean that would show that we, at stackoverflow, want people to do some research first, before asking for help. At least if the person do some research AND find the duplicate than still needs more information, he can put a link to the other question saying it is closely a duplicate but that it lacks this or that information.

Should all the rep gained on answers be kept also ? Or should it be halved or I don't know? Because I don't think removing it completly is a good idea since it could discourage user from posting answers some time.

Should there be gain for flagging duplicate (small) as it would encourage user to do the research job to close them duplicate and clean the site more?

I think that this is a big issue as there are a lot of duplicate question and probably a lot of "ghost" duplicates as they are not found since you don't always have time to do deep search of the site as reviewer (or whoever wants the keep the site clean) to find them. And maybe giving incentive would the clean.

Here is an example that I've reviewed yesterday.

There are some question which are related but are kind of old, and I think this is a debate that is still actual, and should get more attention.

Close to questions 1, 2 and 3 but I think there are some more points to be discussed here, and also a good way to regroup the whole debate.

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    Related: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/2038/…
    – Jack
    Commented Feb 22, 2013 at 4:12
  • As I said, it is related to some similar question, but they are mostly old, at lest 2 years. And the duplicate problem is still very actual Commented Feb 22, 2013 at 4:14
  • Even though they're old, you can simply bump them up if the content is still relevant by upvoting them.
    – Jack
    Commented Feb 22, 2013 at 4:16
  • Usually duplicates get taken care of pretty well by SO itself. Sure, somebody gains some points, but i doubt that a majority of those rep-gains were sneaky or rep-farming type answers. Commented Feb 22, 2013 at 4:41
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    @Adel I doubt it also for answers, but for question, wouldn't that be an incentive for searching before asking. Maybe a feature for adding "titles" to question would be nice so you could reformulate title and reduce duplicate as it adds more way of searching the question, but that is something else completely different. Commented Feb 22, 2013 at 14:57
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2 Answers 2


As it is a duplicate, and if I can find it is a duplicate, then the OP could have prolly found that its answer was already asked and answered.

This isn't a given. Folks are great at asking old questions using completely new terms. Just because you were able to find the original doesn't mean the asker didn't try to.

That said, there are a lot of lazy folks around who don't bother searching, probably including the guy who asked the question you flagged. It's not uncommon to see duplicate questions down-voted heavily for this reason. When the folks active in a given tag become weary of seeing the same question again and again, they'll tend to penalize folks re-asking it.

  • 1
    I was more talking about duplicates that have closely the same title, because I think that duplicate that have a really different formulation are good as they tend to point more "research keyword" to solutions. That said, shouldn't the lazy folks not be rewarded for asking duplicates in exact same words? Because if its upvoted (for a closely exact title duplicate) then the user get incentive for just asking his question right away without doing research first? Commented Feb 22, 2013 at 13:44
  • That's what I'm getting at in my first paragraph, @Hugo - the title of the question you flagged wasn't a good match for the actual duplicate at all (although it closely matched this question which would've been ok). Because you went out of your way to understand the actual question and find a good match for it, even when the title didn't match up at all, the asker (and future searchers) now have a path to a much more complete answer. That's good! As to whether the asker should be rewarded... That's up to the voters.
    – Shog9
    Commented Feb 22, 2013 at 16:54
  • That goes up with a something I've thought on a comment on the post. Should there be a system to "tag" more title to a question? Or a better way to regroup duplicates, because there might be some info added in the new answers that are not there in the basic question and people getting to the basic question will never get the info since duplicates are "one way links", but that also is another issue. Commented Feb 22, 2013 at 17:22

Exec Summary: Yes, there should be new action. Provide rep incentives and disincentives and address gaming issues effectively in light of system developments.

Long Version: I have a couple of weeks of active SO experience now and just experienced my first instance of:

  1. Researching a question
  2. Finding a sure-thing duplicate
  3. Choosing to do the right thing and flagging the answer as duplicate rather than answering
  4. Seeing the auto-comment go up about possible duplicate
  5. Noticing someone answering the question ten minutes later with an essentially duplicate answer and no acknowledgement of the dup

I've since read many of the related posts about this, including (most) of the really long one that is mostly three years old now.

I think I have a new perspective to add, but it's hard to tell since there's a lot of duplication in this area ;-). Anyway, for purposes of this answer I think it's helpful to distinguish between:

  • Trying to discourage asking of duplicate questions, and
  • Trying to discourage answering duplicate questions, and
  • Trying to encourage flagging and voting to close duplicates

Most of the discussion about this seems to have migrated to non-rep incentives (i.e. badges) out of concern for bad side-effects of disincentives, particularly driving people away (Jeff's argument) and the likelikhood for gaming rep incentives.

Maybe I'm unusual, but badges don't mean a whole lot to me, or at least not yet. In any event, I'd like to toss out a few ideas to address the aforementioned concerns.

Regarding the concern over removal of answer rep for closed-as-duplicate questions, most of the concerns seem to have been expressed before the current mechanism was introduced for auto-generating comments about possible duplication. Given that these comments are there, I don't have much sympathy for someone who answers a question that has already been publicly noted as potential duplicate. And as for it being marked as potential duplicate after you've started work, I don't see much difference between that and the normal situation where people are competing to answer quickly.

While I think "removing duplicate answer" rep can stand on it's own, at least for questions flagged well before the answer, it would be nice to have some rep incentive for flagging/closing duplicates to complement this. The concern, of course, has been gaming. First of all, if the rep is relatively minimal (e.g. 2 pts), I seriously doubt anyone is going to invest the time and energy to game this, as others have pointed out. If doubt remains, you could cap this kind of rep on a per day basis.

The other option that comes to mind is to offer a more substantial rep for flagging/closing duplicate questions and combine it with the radical step of requiring "real" identity (!) for SO, at least going forward. I have not researched this identity issue on MSO so I'm not aware of the hot buttons, but it seems to me that this would pretty well shut down the gaming possibilities for duplicate removal incentives. To game it, you'd have to collude between real people and require real people to submit many duplicate questions, for which we can readily offer disincentives.

Further, if we effectively addressed the gaming issue, we could potentially even elevate marking as duplicate to the level of "answer" for added visibility and emphasis, with only one answer per duplicate target of course and perhaps no added points for upvoting, just an "accept" bonus. With real identity established, you could even combine this with rep-losing for submission of duplicate questions for users above a certain level of rep (or above a certain # of questions asked).

I've learned on MSO that expressing my opinion generally results in more downvotes than upvotes and responses tend to emphasize what's not liked, so I expect to get "hammered" on this, but fortunately MSO points don't really matter to me, so I'm just hoping it helps things along in some way.

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