I have recently started using a new device and I am discovering

  • Just how immensely helpful the various browser caches are on my earlier device for locating duplicates
  • just how erm, poor the Closing->Duplicate search facility is.

For example On Server Fault we have a close target for licensing questions, it's title is 'Can You help me with my software licensing issue?', there are lots of questions closed as a duplicate of it.

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When I enter the full title of the question into the search box it appears 13th on the list. Most of the other questions presented as possible duplicates are in fact already closed duplicates of the one I want to find. This is really not helpful.

It seems to me that improving the sorting such that

would be very helpful.

  • 5
    Point two is a duplicate of Boost duplicate post search results by incoming link count May 27, 2014 at 10:30
  • 3
    Cheers Martijn - I did go looking for dupes but erm, yeah search is :(
    – user147520
    May 27, 2014 at 10:37
  • My search skills also failed me on this one, didn't find @Martijn request. May 27, 2014 at 11:01
  • 11
    Lets face it search is less than useful even when you know what you're looking for. Improving search all round would be useful and possibly enable other ways for getting OPs to information without them having to ask a (generally poor) question.
    – user147520
    May 27, 2014 at 11:05
  • 3
    I find most duplicates in the 'related links" section of the question page. That's not ideal. Nov 30, 2015 at 16:24

5 Answers 5


I fixed a bug with the sort order of the results - these were being returned in post id order instead of relevance order (as determined by ElasticSearch).

The fix has been deployed.


This is critically important.

I suggest it's also related to the reason that over on serverfault, we're always flooded with users asking the exact same 5-10 questions about how to use iptables, make mod_rewrite rules, how to set up nginx, how to set up ZFS, why their DNS changes aren't instant, how to route traffic through a VPN, and how to send email marketing messages.

It's also the reason we have such trouble properly closing those as dupes.


Oh please, can we have this? I often ask a question here on MSE and I just can't find the duplicate, while the wording is often identical.

On SO I experience similar problems. Some canonical questions just won't pop up in the top 20 when Google will directly give me the canonical I was looking for.

Maybe we can overhaul the entire duplicate close screen. Better filtering and sorting is already mentioned. I would suggest to make a tab for my own favorite questions too, or a tab of previously used close targets. This might be a shortcut find often used close targets.

  • In the intervening 2 years I've come to realise that there is a potentially better solution. Closing -> Already Answered look at the answers on this site search and I use the custom close reason for this. Make the OP do the work and educate them in one go.
    – user147520
    May 29, 2016 at 7:06

Most popular duplicate close targets have a vote score and/or view count significantly above average.

So it would in my opinion already be a great improvement if we simply had a button to sort the search results by their vote score and by their view count additionally to the (currently still suboptimal) relevance order.

I think adding such sort buttons as we have them on the main question sites would already improve the search dialog's quality without generating too much development effort.


I agree with the other answers that sorting the questions differently will help a little, but I feel that we need more than that otherwise we will still have trouble with this.

My suggestion would be to match based off answers too. Currently, if I put user:me in the box, I only get the questions I asked, not my answers, and searching for a keyword that shows up only in an answer to a question does not return that question.

I think that this might contribute some of the times I don't see something in the list at all and I know that the answer is out there. Many questions are vaguely worded because the asker can't find the terminology. A number of highly up voted questions on Stack Overflow have two sentences or fewer as the question, so it's a bit hit and miss.

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