Shog once suggested an better way of dealing with duplicate votes by making each suggested duplicate an answer that could be voted on.

Let's do it!

One of the biggest advantages of that idea is that dupe suggestions start visibly competing with answers. So when a dupe gets asked, people actually notice that there may be a perfectly good Q&A already, instead of mindlessly answering it for the 30,000th time - which leads to a heap of mediocre-quality dupes with no connection to each other.

Another advantage of providing dupe-votes as answers is that the user - often enough a newbie - gets an actual response that they can vote on, and accept. They can also react directly if they think the closing is in error (by commenting underneath the answer).

Now, Shog's suggestion, as it stands, would probably entail major changes to how the system works.

How about implementing a "lite" version of it - one that would require hardly any change to the system.

  • Every time a user votes to close a question as a duplicate of another, offer the automatic, optional creation of a CW answer with, say, the following message:

    You can automatically generate an answer that contains the duplicate link. You can edit it to provide the question's author further guidance while still pointing out that the question is a duplicate. You will not gain reputation for this answer.

  • If the user agrees, the auto-created answer would look like this:

    This question may have a duplicate here: How to Flagellate the Blozbaz

  • It can be edited by the OP in order to provide guidance specific to the OP's situation. This works fine in cases like this one (which is in no way special, it happens all the time around the site. Just an example from 10 minutes ago)

  • It can be voted upon, reflecting the community's agreement or disagreement.

  • It can be commented upon, allowing for discourse about whether the dupe-vote is correct or not.

The only problem that I see with this is that users could mistakenly end up believing that an upvote on the answer means an automatic concurring vote, which it doesn't. That would require a message shown to 3k+'ers saying something like "Click 'close' to confirm". It's not a dealbreaker IMO if the idea is otherwise good.

@CasperOne's criticism on the original suggestion about this possibly encouraging link-only answers is well taken, and of course he speaks with some authority as a moderator who has to clean up the damn things. Still, I think the overall benefits would outweigh the necessary extra education.

  • 3
    I think if it were an answer posted by Community with a banner, it would be fine. People would interpret it as a normal answer and, I think, close normally. Enough upvotes on the answer could even potentially count as vote(s) to close as duplicate.
    – user206222
    Commented Oct 1, 2013 at 4:33
  • 1
    People are always looking for ways to incentivize closing (specifically dups). The potential badges from a CW answer might be the way to do that. Very interesting idea Commented Oct 1, 2013 at 9:17

1 Answer 1


Just a thought...

We may be able to offer further incentive for users finding dups by allowing the "dup finder" to keep the +15 rep should the possible dup be marked as the accepted answer.

As it stands it looks like many users fire off a quick answer in the hope of gaining a few rep rather than digging through old questions looking for the dup. Allowing +15 for an accepted dup would likely combat this in a big way.

Other upvotes should probably be treated in the usual CW fashion, but giving a small rep bonus for productive dup hunters seems reasonable.

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    I'm afraid this will increase the number of false duplicates. There are plenty of them already, mostly because people don't look deeper than superficial similarities. I sometimes wish I could "unvote as duplicate". Commented Oct 1, 2013 at 15:03
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    @GertArnold Hence the bonus would only apply to dups marked as accepted, it may even encourage users to put more effort into finding "real" duplicates, rather than ones with superficial similarities, as the OP is more likely to accept the dup that best fits their use case.
    – apaul
    Commented Oct 1, 2013 at 15:06
  • I hope so. Some users will think: the more the better. It's amazing, for instance, how much effort some people put in numerous BS edits just to gain a little rep from the few that make it. I like the idea though. Maybe with some refinement it could be a great help. Commented Oct 1, 2013 at 15:17
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    What if Downvotes count on the linked duplicates, just not upvotes. That would further incentivize finding correct duplicates. Commented Oct 1, 2013 at 15:23
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    @psubsee2003 That could help accuracy, but it may a disincentive to finding the dup to begin with. Some users may not want to take the risk of losing rep, just because the OP didn't appreciate being called out on asking a dup. Also its generally better to lead with a carrot than beat with a stick.
    – apaul
    Commented Oct 1, 2013 at 15:28
  • I don't disagree with this, but thinking about rewards for dup-finding is the next stage IMO. This first stage would not change anything in rep dynamics and might be a good first step towards seeing whether the whole thing makes sense
    – Pekka
    Commented Oct 1, 2013 at 17:49
  • Maybe offering a badge ("Dupe Hunter") can be awarded. I know badge hunters are there, but offering rep for finding dupe will cause too many false flags and careless reviewers will approve it. That will cause too many re-open confusion.
    – Mp0int
    Commented Mar 19, 2014 at 15:22

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