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I came across this thread on hacker news:

"This question has been asked before and already has an answer." This is the single MOST ANNOYING thing about stack exchange. WHERE was this question asked before? How about a link to the original question? Hello?

This user appears to have missed the 'This question already has an answer here' box, and is annoyed that they can't find the question this one is being marked a duplicate of. There are other responses in that thread with others making the same point. It looks like this is a surprisingly common thing.

Looking at the question the thread is about, the long post does mean that by the time you see the reason, the link is long gone.

To avoid this misunderstanding, it might be worth making the 'has been asked before' part of the close reason a link to either the box above or directly to the question, to avoid this confusion.

  • Makes sense, especially for long questions. Maybe a check could be made on how long it is? – curiousdannii Jun 8 '15 at 11:35
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The link to the duplicate is right at the top of the question, before one even reads the question.

It could be missed for very new users, for example, if someone skips the question and heads right to the answers, or is linked directly to an answer from somewhere.
But it only takes a few minutes on the site to learn where the dupe link is, and they are always in the same place so they know from then on.

Plus, if they are directly linked to an answer, or scroll down past the question without reading, what's to say they'll look for or find the link in the close reason box either?

The dupe link is both in the question and at the top of the page, which is the two most logical place anyone should look.


While it can be argued to not do any "harm" being in the close reason box, if we duplicate the site links, content, and functionality, then we risk over crowding it, and take away precious screen estate from other things which could be useful.

I think it's logical and easy to find where it is.

I came across this thread on hacker news:

The first reply in the thread you linked to is explaining where the dupe link is. Then the rest of the thread is moaning about something else.

There will always be someone who has an issue, or cannot find something. There are millions of users on the Stack sites, and I cannot remember anyone previously complaining about where the dupe link is, I just don't see this as a problem.

Even if argued it's a potential problem, given the major complexities on the sites and massive learning curves, this is a very simple thing to learn which takes barely any effort or thought, and so is not worth "fixing" for a few people in the world.

  • I would have said the same thing - but that thread shows that at least two people on a technically-focused site had this problem repeatedly enough they listed it as their biggest annoyance with SE sites. If you are a contributor or regular user (like myself) I agree you learn this very quickly, but this addition would help the (far more common) user who visits from a search result and knows nothing about the site, who may well just skip over the box at the beginning and end up unable to find their way. Most of these people won't complain - just go away disappointed. – Latty Jun 8 '15 at 12:03
  • "at least two people on a technically-focused site had this problem repeatedly" So two users with the issue out of 5 million users on Stack exchange. So dev time and the site content changed for everyone, versus, those two users being told to look up (in fact neither of them now, as they've already been told in that thread). I know, there may be others, but I just don't see a problem with how it is. Some users might not see it where it is now or in the closed info box, so should we also put it above all answers? You could go on forever catering for people :) – James Jun 8 '15 at 12:14
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    I understand the argument you are making, but I feel that the cost in terms of time to fix (very low) and problems caused by the fix (none) is minimal, while this is very frustrating for users (as clearly it isn't two in five million, as most people who encounter this will just leave frustrated, not comment on it). It never hit me, but what I've seen makes it seem likely this is a less niche issue than you are making it out to be. – Latty Jun 8 '15 at 13:03
  • Also, the first reply explaining the dupe link was me, as I posted this question. The two users in the thread imply that this is a continued aggravation for them they have encountered multiple times, and how many users coming from Google will bother to make a thread about it somewhere they will get told where to look? The UX could be improved here cheaply, at the cost of making some text a link, which is practically nil. The learning curve argument applies if it's a feature for regular users, but this is a feature for people to find answers, something that should be easy. – Latty Jun 8 '15 at 13:06
  • The counter to that is the cost in terms of time to fix - neither I or you know how the site is coded, it could be a 10 min job, but likely it will be hours and hours, as this will affect all sites and changes a large and important part of the system, so will also need hours of consideration and discussing with the Staff. "Problems caused by the fix (none) is minimal" well, there us unnecessary duplicated site notifications, bloated messages. Also consider problems resolved by the fix - how many users affected? We do not know, but I wager not enough to warrant the time to implement it. – James Jun 8 '15 at 13:21
  • unnecessary duplicated site notifications, bloated messages - this is a serious misrepresentation of turning a couple of words of text from not a link to a link. Of course there is some cost in terms of time, and yes, it does come down to the question of affected users - clearly our estimations of the number of people affected based on what we know are different. What I know of SE, however, is the site is all about carefully designed UX to try and ensure that as soon as a user walks through the door, they get a good impression - this could be a worthy UX micro-optimisation given that goal. – Latty Jun 8 '15 at 14:04
  • If you interviewed all Stack users, tens of thousands would complaint about different issues. This particular "issue" is not a bug or problem, it's simply people not knowing how to use the site. There is so much site functionality here, it does take time to learn it all, and there are more problematic things people cannot find than logically placed easy to see "dupe" links. We cannot just add extra links to functionality in different places because some users could not find something "first time". Again, I'm not against your idea "per-se", I just don't think it's worthwhile or even necessary. – James Jun 8 '15 at 14:59
  • The issue is a UX problem - people miss that box, and assume there is no link. Providing information split across two places (the fact it was closed as a duplicate, and the question this duplicate is duplicating) means the user experience is diminished for those that miss it. That can affect new users looking for answers from search results who will never 'learn how to use the site' - they expect to be able to use it from the outset. It is entirely possible to add a link in this situation. Just because I wouldn't personally benefit doesn't mean there is no value in it for an uninvested user. – Latty Jun 8 '15 at 16:12
  • Also 'there are lots of small problems' isn't a good reason not to try and fix one. Yes, some of those problems won't be fixable (or at least, not without great cost or causing problems elsewhere), but this one is fixable with minimal cost, so writing it off because it's small seems, to me, to imply too high a level of eagerness to reject changes. I could be wrong - but that's my view of it. – Latty Jun 8 '15 at 16:15
  • I already understood your argument/idea. I just don't think you see the bigger picture. There are hundreds, possibly thousands, of "things" around Stack. Functions, options, all over our profiles, badges, rep, privileges, reviews, review history, notifications, actions, comments, etc, etc, etc. "New users" won't know where any of this is, and need to learn it. Should we make dupe links to them all over the site so they are easier to find? Or, should users learn how to use the site? I don't think there are many users who cannot find the dupe link. Can you prove otherwise? Support Questions? – James Jun 8 '15 at 16:28
  • I don't think there are many users who cannot find the dupe link. Can you prove otherwise? Support Questions? - That's where this post came from - the people on the HN article couldn't find it. I'm also saying that this is an issue most likely to affect those unfamiliar with the site (landing from searches to read answers), so they are highly unlikely to ask a support question, just move on. I speculate it is probably an issue to others based on the source I gave. You say they need to learn it, I'm saying this is a core part of answers they shouldn't need to learn, and should be optimised. – Latty Jun 9 '15 at 15:33

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