Yesterday I posted my first question here with a nice answer and some useful comments...
And then it was rightfully closed as a duplicate.

I felt a bit of a dumb ass not having found that earlier question, as I know I spent time searching before posing the question and looked through the list of 'Questions that may already have your answer'. I did not pay to much attention to the 'Similar Questions' bar as that changed multiple times while I typed.

Today I tried to redo my search in order to see where I went wrong (and if this question is going to be a duplicate too, I obviously failed).

I first tried the searches that I remembered entering and I found that when using the words review, reopen, close my own (now closed) question was on place 9 and the earlier one at place 25 (all these places might be off by one or two, it is difficult to count through a list that you have to scroll through). That seemed to be because I use the word preview which is not in the title of the earlier question. However that word is in a tag of the earlier question.

Then I started retyping the question (don't worry I did not resubmit) to look at the 'Questions that may already have your answer'. The earlier question did not show up there. And what I noticed is that adding tags did not change that list.

Then out of curiosity I redid my search with some of the words as tags [vote-to-reopen], [review], close which gave the earlier post position 11 and my own 21. If I make that [vote-to-reopen], [review], vote-to-close, there is only one question left: mine. I did not look for that yesterday however.

Then I retried the suggestion from this answer and searched via google:

site:http://meta.stackoverflow.com/ review reopen self close

the earlier question did not show up on the first two pages out of the 2.3M answers (does anyone ever try further pages?).

Then after repasting my body of my question I finally found the earlier question in the 'Similar Questions` side bar. I did not notice that yesterday, but I am sure it must have been there.

Typing this I noticed this answer for What is the best way to find duplicate questions, which, had I looked at that yesterday, would have pointed me to the Similar Questions.

However I have a few excuses and I would like to know if others share the following observations:

  • I observed Questions that may already have your answer more than Similar Questions because it was not changing all the time. But I think it should have changed on selecting tags and/or search through the similar set of tags.
  • Similar Questions opens the question in the same window, that should be in a new window/tab like Questions that may already have your answer as the first thing you do is decline moving from the page you are editing, and then you have the extra effort of right-clicking-> open in new tab.
  • There is no entry in the FAQ on preventing duplicate questions, I think it should at least include a link to a proper workflow to prevent duplicates.
  • If a user (this is my third SE question) has low question experience or a large percentage of duplicates in posted questions, then a popup while hovering Post your Question (or a two-step confirm) pointing out to look once more through *Similar Questions now that this site has matched all of your question` would IMHO be appropriate.

Just before hitting the Post Your Question I looked through Similar Questions and found Is it to hard to locate duplicate questions. I hope mine is different enough not to warrant closing.

  • 1
    Ok, now that I voted to close, please don't feel bad that this question may also turn out to be a duplicate. Check out my answer there, duplicates on MSO are notoriously hard to find and I only knew of this one because I had answered it. And of course I might be completely wrong and it's not really a dupe. – yannis Apr 4 '13 at 8:44
  • Well done for pointing out that the faq doesn't have an obvious avoid duplicates section. If we expect people to avoid posting a duplicate, we should tell them, and give hints like you suggest. In many places there's no such expectation, so it's a good idea to make it explicit. – AndrewC Apr 4 '13 at 8:45
  • @Yannis Yes, it a seems humans are better at making these links than software. – AndrewC Apr 4 '13 at 8:47
  • @Yannis. Thanks for pointing that one out. I did actually search through the FAQ both for duplicate and prevent but did not find too much help. Also your answer there does not directly address the points for discussion I raised, but it was nice to find the changelog, when I have time I will look through that. – Anthon Apr 4 '13 at 8:52
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    I think 95% of all questions posted on MSO are duplicates of others. It wouldn't surprise me if the very first question posted here was a duplicate. – JonW Apr 4 '13 at 8:58
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    @JonW: I tried to find the first question with http://meta.stackexchange.com/questions/000001/ there you interestingly find in the title a hint of that deleted questions: should-meta-stackoverflow-com-replace-uservoice-com. Are you sure your as similar comment as yours was not posted there as well? – Anthon Apr 4 '13 at 9:04
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    I find it genuinely chuckle-worthy that this question would be a duplicate of something else! Nevertheless, I wholly encourage it being asked, and up voted as a result! – Andrew Barber Apr 4 '13 at 9:41
  • @Anthon So it may well have been a duplicate of the same question asked on uservoice! – AndrewC Apr 4 '13 at 18:13
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    'Tis no biggie to post dupe questions. Don't beat yourself up about it. If you made a good effort to search and didn't find it, that's all we ask. If you couldn't find the dupe, someone else probably couldn't either, and having your dupe there as a pointer to the original is quite helpful for future searchers. (That's why we don't delete all closed questions as a matter of course.) This is especially true on Meta, where you have to be a bit of a regular Meta troll to remember seeing a question and be able to find it. Did someone already say this? Oh well, it's worth saying again. – Cody Gray Apr 5 '13 at 4:08
  • Irony or bad luck. I'm not surprised how the title has duplicate Duplicate in it :D – Gufran Jun 7 '13 at 21:15

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