What happens?

Several times has happened to me that I try to find a question (or solution) in Google or Stack Overfow, and nothing. Then I ask the question and, very fast the question is marked as [Duplicated]. Is this a good mechanism? It is right to ask a question for finding another one? In my case, this last time happened to me asking:

Difference between Asp.net MVC 4 Controller's Actions and WebApi's Actions [duplicate] when already was asked before like this one: Difference between ApiController and Controller in ASP.NET MVC


So, it is a good practice remove the duplicated question? (like I did)

  • It's a sign that you should be doing more/better research before asking your questions, not changing how you phase them.
    – Servy
    Commented May 23, 2014 at 13:54
  • 3
    If you've searched extensively and couldn't find it, you probably were using different search terms. Since other people might use the same search terms as you in the future, I think it's ok to ask the question - when it's marked duplicate it will help future visitors reach the destination
    – mhlester
    Commented May 23, 2014 at 13:56
  • 2
    @mhlester Some duplicates can add value, if they are in fact using radically different termanology, or otherwise have greatly improved SEO. This is, however, highly unusual. Most duplicates don't add value, aren't more searchable, and don't have radically different terminology used. Assuming that duplicates inherently all add value is simply not the case.
    – Servy
    Commented May 23, 2014 at 14:02

3 Answers 3


It is a good mechanism to start to ask a question.

First, get your stuff together: work out exactly what your problem is (compiler error, runtime error, unexpected results) and narrow down what part of the code you think is causing it (or for nonprogramming sites, the equivalents to these two.) This often is all it takes for you to solve some problems.

Second, search using some of the keywords you think might be the problem. Use Google or the site search. You'll have more keywords because you took the time to get your stuff together first. Maybe you'll find what you need.

Third, click Ask a Question and start asking - but don't post the question! As you write the question, above the text entry box you will see similar questions. Open those in a new tab and read them carefully. If they solve your problem, vote up the question and any useful answers, and abandon your question without posting it. If the answer would solve your question, but there are no answers, consider setting a bounty, and again, abandon your question. If they don't solve your problem but others might see yours as a dupe, add a pre-emptive "I have read [link] and this is different because [reasons]" to your question.

After you've read all the related questions and made yours as crisp and complete as possible, should you still not know the answer, post your question. It may still be a duplicate, but you will have created a useful signpost to lead other people to that other question in the future.


If you can't find an answer using given phrase in Google, but it's a duplicate, it's a great reason to leave that duplicate question forever!

The duplicate works as a gateway, redirecting the visitors to the solution. It provides them also with the "correct" terminology. Often being unable to find something in Google comes from inability to use the proper "magic word" (and no, it's not "please", it doesn't work on Google and SO/SE doesn't like it either).

There are very many possible ways the people describe the same problem. If SO can help them, it's great.

Duplicates should be removed only, if they are asked because of the OP's lazyness, and they are easily found using the same phrase as in question, or if the problem is described so oddly it's unlikely someone other will describe it that way (well, such questions should be closed for an other reason, but it's another story).

  • 2
    The OP has asked three duplicate questions (that aren't deleted. All three of them are duplicates of questions that have almost exactly the same title. 1. "Why i can't use yield return on lambda expressions" vs "In C#, why can't an anonymous method contain a yield statement?" 2. "It is posible to create a .NET application that dosen't need the .NETFramework" vs "Running .net based application without .NET Framework" 3. "Exist any way for running a WPF .NET Framework 4.5 project on Windows XP?" vs "Is it possible to run a .net 4.5 app on XP? " All of those titles are using the same terms.
    – Servy
    Commented May 23, 2014 at 14:24

No, it is not. There is no benefit to asking for someone to find a duplicate question over simply asking the question itself. It doesn't help anyone else in finding a duplicate any more easily, and it makes the question unanswerable in the event that there is no duplicate.

While running into duplicates on occasion isn't the end of the world, if you're asking a lot of duplicate questions then it's a red flag that there is something wrong with how you are doing your research before asking questions. If, when looking at the duplicates, you're finding very little similarity in terminology, then perhaps there isn't much that you could have done, but if you end up seeing the eventual duplicates in the "related" tab of your question, notice that there is a lot of similarity in terminology, etc. then it's a sign that you're simply not spending enough time and effort searching for answers before asking your questions.

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