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I was recently answer a question (here) on SO about whether a google search should be referenced or the result of the search when a question is asked. In context, 7000+ new questions are showing up on SO each day. That is a lot of questions for the IT folks to look over and find duplicates, do searches, reference searches, etc.

We are technology folks...shouldn't we let the technology do the heavy lifting.

If each new question was automatically submitted to google and the result placed near the question when it was displayed (maybe hidden with a tab to make them visible), this would give the questioner immediate access to something they may not have thought to do themselves.

This would hopefully eliminate questions of "did you search google first".

If the result has links to SO questions other than the initial question, this is an indication of a duplicate. Perhaps it would then be flagged as "possible duplicate" automatically so the IT folks would not have to look at each question individually, but separate them out early and often. Maybe this can be shown as a "possible duplicate" list right under the google results so the creator immediately knows it was a duplicate and can mark it as such.

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  • Doesn't the stack exchange duplicate search already do this Nov 10 '13 at 20:50
  • Or do you mean including all Google search results near the question? Nov 10 '13 at 20:52
  • I mean having a subset of the google search results (Top N) automatically show (maybe as a button) when a question is posted. If some of the results link to existing SO results, then the question can be automatically flagged as possibly being a duplicate so moderators can quickly zoom in on it and dispense with it. I'm just thinking about ways to handle a problem of scale (7000+ new questions a day) that was talked about in the mentioned post. Does this already happen? I'm somewhat naive. Nov 10 '13 at 21:03
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    You can already see potential duplicates to the right of the question once asked (they're also shown before posting the question). Auto flagging would probably throw up too many false positives however Nov 10 '13 at 21:13
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    In some way, I think the posters need to take the responsibility themselves. Let there questions get downvoted and closed if they didn't search. The more you do for someone without them asking, the more they will use you as a crutch. I think this could result in more low research questions because now users will learn we will give them the top Google results and so they won't rely on their own searching Nov 10 '13 at 21:34
  • I have considered the yin/yang of the crutch question. I recognize the need to teach people to fish vs. giving them fish. I also recognize it takes resources to teach them, or just to tell them to go get a pole. Sometimes, it's just better in the long run to make the poles and leave them on the ground. Especially when they come in droves asking the same questions over and over and you feel obligated to help them all. Nov 10 '13 at 22:26
  • That being said, I put this in as a question so it could be debated by reasonable people, including the people spending all their time expending their resources for what they feel people should "just know to do" and let the community find a solution. Nov 10 '13 at 22:28
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    If there were to be any "look at this google search" it would only make sense to show it to them before the question was asked, after that the damage is done and normal procedures apply. However, given that people don't seem to look at the existing potential duplicates list that carefully I'm not sure how many people would look at a google search list either Nov 10 '13 at 22:45
  • I have to go with Richard and psubsee here -- SE already provides you with similar questions based on the title of the post, and then similar questions based on the title, body, and tags of the post. Even if the answer is available elsewhere on Google, we want to make sure that info is available here on SO as well for future visitors, so providing google links will only discourage good questions we would want, while not preventing bad questions for the reasons Richard and psubsee pointed out.
    – jmac
    Nov 11 '13 at 2:52
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Showing duplicates before the question is posted

The existing question asking page has potential duplicates prominently shown, occupying a good 60% of the available space. Its difficult to see how we could make this any more prominent

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Showing duplicates after the question is posted

This is also already implemented, all be it less prominently

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Auto flagging duplicates

This would create an inordinate number of false positives. While the duplicates list often contains useful links it also often contains a large number of related but seperate questions, to auto flag them all would vastly increase the work of the 3k+ close reviewers who would have to manually manage this large number of (often incorrect) flags.

Including a general Google search when asking a question

Ignoring any legal issues that may surround this, this is the only part of the request I would contemplate. However, given that people already largely do not look at the potential duplicates list I would be dubious if they would look at the list.

Additionally it would imply that a single google search is all that was required to meet the minimum effort requirements, which is exactly what we do not want. Whether the answer exists on the internet in general is not the important point, what is important is whether the OP has an attempt at the problem within the question itself. If there was a tick box (that it was impossible to lie in) that said "I have searched google" it would not affect the question requirements.

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