History of Idea

Currently any post can be closed as a duplicate of other posts. Sometimes those other posts are already duplicates so chains start building up.

This leads to a mess like this:

C => B => A
D => A
B => A
A => E

So basically E is the original post. I was about to sugest to let all posts point to E directly, so that all the users won't have to click through the whole chain.

Then i found this: Avoid chaining "exact duplicates"

Feature Request

The main argument there was: There might be something helpful in the middle chain segments. I agree with this argument. In fact i agree so strongly that i want to suggest to let the original posts link back to all the posts, that point at it as in duplicated by or similar. This would increase the chance of of finding a correct answer in a short amount of time (and improve SEO i guess).

for the example it can either look like this:

// simply point back
// double ended arrow for links on each other
C <=> B <=> A
D <=> A
B <=> A
A <=> E

or more sophisticated:

// point on everything that points to me, directly or over several levels
// longer arrow to mark backlinkt
C => B => A
D => A
B => A
A => E
A ==> B
A ==> D
A ==> C
E ==> A
E ==> B
E ==> C
E ==> D

What does the Community think?

Edit: I am speaking of exact duplicates, not subsets of a larger question.

  • 1
    There exist a good many questions for which at least 1000 individual other questions have been closed as a duplicate. – BoltClock's a Unicorn Apr 7 '13 at 8:09
  • It can always be some of the duplicates instead of none – scones Apr 7 '13 at 8:10

The "linked" section of the sidebar manages this well. I don't think that backlinking dupes in a visible manner is more productive. Generally, the closed question has less answers than the one which isn't closed. (in fact, the new duplicate closing rules mandate that only mods can close as a dupe of questions which have no answers). If this is not the case, asking for a merge may sometimes work.

Note that many times, duplicates are not duplicates, rather they are "subset questions". For example, Number of bonds in a Lewis Structure , Is it okay for a sulfite ion to have 10 electrons around the sulfur? , Lewis dot structures and exceeding the octet are not the same question as Can an atom have more than 8 valence electrons? If not, why is 8 the limit?, which is just a more general form of the other three. This usually happens when a post is a "canonical answer" to a multitude of related, more specific, questions. Backlinking becomes useless here.

  • Firstly, i am speaking of exact duplicates. i will clearify that right after this comment. Secondly the linked section in the sidebar does not "uplink". It links similar questions by title or tags or content (depending on algorithm). Consider: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/68616/…. the uplink then beeing: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/63432/…. Both contain the exact SO-error message. Both were not in the list of the anchor post. – scones Apr 7 '13 at 8:47
  • @scones it does uplink. Check the Chemistry posts I linked to. The example you give is invalid; that post has a few thousand duplicates. As you mentioned in your reply to BoltClock's comment, it links to some duplicates – Manishearth Apr 7 '13 at 8:50
  • How will the system tell the difference between an exact dupe and a subset? – Manishearth Apr 7 '13 at 8:51
  • The difference can be by type of flag raised on the post " exact dup" vs. "subset" or similar. But i see your point in the post (now). Any link to a Post generates a uplink visible to the right. Maybe thats just enough. +1 for that. – scones Apr 7 '13 at 8:55
  • @scones I don't think that splitting the dupe close/flag option into two is that good an idea. It may be. I'd have to think about it. – Manishearth Apr 7 '13 at 9:04
  • @Manisearth so do i, that's why you have no accept :) – scones Apr 7 '13 at 9:07
  • @scones however, I don't think they'll implement a split duplicate option in the way presented now, especially if the only reason is to make this feature request acceptable :/ – Manishearth Apr 7 '13 at 9:09

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