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As of a few minutes ago, if you have a gold tag-badge for a tag associated with a question that's been closed as a duplicate, you can edit the duplicate links to replace, add, remove or re-arrange them:

edit link in duplicate banner

link editor

revision list

These changes are tracked in PostHistory to allow anyone to detect abuse, while the results update the PostLinks table so that existing logic continues to work (I mention this because some of you may wish to lean on SEDE for observing how this works out, once it gets updated).

Rationale

This has been requested for... Oh, about four years now. In February of 2013, Jarrod replaced the venerable but messy method of marking duplicates by editing links into the top of the post with a system that records the question IDs in a separate table and renders them as needed. This was a huge improvement... Not only did it make tracking the usage of duplicates much easier and more reliable, it also prevented editors from inadvertently (or intentionally...) editing out the duplicate links without reopening the question.

But it also prevented anyone from updating duplicate links, which was useful in cases where more than one duplicate was appropriate (for instance, "too broad" questions that consist of multiple questions, each already answered) or situations where the asker clarified their problem and a different duplicate link became appropriate.

This was clearly not ideal; some folks resorted to reopening and re-closing, while others savagely abused bugs to work around the deficiency.

Today, that changes. Oded stepped up to implement an elegant solution: allow users trusted to single-handedly close questions as duplicates to also modify the list at will.

This stops short of fully restoring the previous capabilities - after all, there were serious downsides to that. But it should suffice to allow those most familiar with a given topic to better curate it.

Please report any bugs you find, tagging them . Enjoy!

  • 72
    Yes! Yes! – JAL Mar 3 '17 at 17:26
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    Is this feature available if you edit your relevant tag into the question, or does the same restriction about self-added tags apply? – TylerH Mar 3 '17 at 17:26
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    FINALLY! Awesome! Also, suggest retitling post to "Shiny new duplicate edit feature", for versioning consistency. – Jason C Mar 3 '17 at 17:29
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    Same restrictions that apply to closing as a badge-holder apply to this, @TylerH. – Shog9 Mar 3 '17 at 17:29
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    I love this, great stuff! – DavidG Mar 3 '17 at 17:31
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    JAL's is the best, but media.makeameme.org/created/yes-finally.jpg – Pëkka Mar 3 '17 at 17:33
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    @JAL another version, yes!! – SouravGhosh Mar 3 '17 at 17:33
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    @JAL is a party pooper. – Jason C Mar 3 '17 at 17:36
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    Redirect doesn't happen at all if there are multiple targets, @Braiam - this is existing behavior, since it's always been possible to have multiple links in this list. – Shog9 Mar 3 '17 at 17:37
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    When the duplicate list is edited currently the revision history just lists the post IDs of the revision list before and after the change. Can those post IDs be actual links to those questions? – Servy Mar 3 '17 at 18:18
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    Post feature-request, @Servy – Shog9 Mar 3 '17 at 18:18
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    Added to the list of reasons I should get a dupehammer somewhere ASAP – M.A.R. ಠ_ಠ Mar 3 '17 at 22:23
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    @Shog9 - I notice that it puts stuff in the revision history - does modifying dupe links count as a 'bump'? – Robotnik Mar 4 '17 at 1:54
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    How easy would it be to catch potential abuse of this feature by gold-tag-badge holders? Does editing the dupe links bump the dupe question to the front page? – Rand al'Thor Mar 4 '17 at 2:11
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    It definitely should bump it up on the front page. But also, are you going to implement a review queue where non-gold-badged but trusted users (e.g. >=5k) can suggest such changes, which are then reviewed in a new review queue by other trusted users, as originally suggested? The current solution may work well on SO, but e.g. Travel SE has only 4 distinct gold-badged users in 5 tags, one of them being a mod. – mts Mar 4 '17 at 9:53

10 Answers 10

79

Yes! Yes! Yes!

This is an excellent power tool for us as gold tag badge holders. It makes our job of closing questions as duplicates much easier.

I have personally often had questions which I closed as duplicate of another question and someone else came with a much better duplicate. I wished I could reopen and close again, but that wasn't possible of course.

This feature brings much more than I hoped for: we can just edit the list, we can add more than one duplicate (very helpful for 2-in-1 questions). No need to go through the reopen and reclose procedure any more. No need to ping some other gold tag badge holder to assist. Wonderful!

  • "our job of closing as duplicate much easier." but they are already closed as duplicates. – Braiam Mar 4 '17 at 16:25
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    Yes, but if the duplicate doesn't seem to fit entirely after a comment or two, it is nice to have the ability to adjust the duplicate for a better fitting one. – Patrick Hofman Mar 4 '17 at 16:26
  • As an example this one. The cause can be two things: the server sending chunked or the automatic deflation. I don't have a duplicate giving both options. Now I can vote to close as duplicate of both of them. No need to readjust if OP removed the automatic deflation and it still doesn't seem to work. @Braiam – Patrick Hofman Mar 4 '17 at 16:28
  • Meh, that's an unclear question, and should be closed as unclear. I rather prefer that the abilities to unilaterally close question is extended to other reasons rather than this feature. – Braiam Mar 4 '17 at 16:37
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    (Getting off-topic here, but the question was immediately clear to me, maybe because I experienced the same issue three days ago) Extending the close vote privileges with other reasons is also still on my wishlist @Braiam – Patrick Hofman Mar 4 '17 at 16:39
  • I truly agree with your comments @PatrickHofman – Ashraf.Shk786 Mar 5 '17 at 12:16
  • I wished I could reopen and close again, but that wasn't possible of course. you sure about that? Cause I think you can do that? – Rahul Mar 5 '17 at 12:24
  • No. You have just one cycle. – Patrick Hofman Mar 5 '17 at 12:28
44

This is soooo nice!

The most important sub-feature about this feature is the ability to finally add additional similar threads to the duplicate question. This does not necessarily need to be the exact duplicate, but there are often 2-3 more very closely related topics already been asked.

enter image description here

Previously, as a site-moderator, I often used strategic close-voting to achieve this! ;) Thanks!

18

For non-gold/diamond users, could you provide a way to submit multiple duplicates as a close reason?

For instance, I wrote a comment here, but I'm afraid that the comment gets deleted when the review is done, leaving only one duplicate link on the post, unless a gold/diamond notices.

16

This is really awesome, I don't have to coordinate multiple people's duplicate votes to close against multiple questions!

but can we clean up all that unused whitespace? It looks really ugly and unnatural:

compared to this:

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    You only get the whitespace if you can edit, which seems reasonable given you'd probably want to notice. – Shog9 Mar 3 '17 at 23:33
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    @Shog9 So high rep users can't have pretty things? :( – ɥʇǝS Mar 3 '17 at 23:37
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    If you want pretty, I got you covered – Shog9 Mar 3 '17 at 23:40
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    @Shog9 It's not hard. See, I fixed it. – ɥʇǝS Mar 3 '17 at 23:59
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    @ɥʇǝS Does your fix factor in long titles? – Robotnik Mar 4 '17 at 1:52
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    @Robotnik Yes, it does. – ɥʇǝS Mar 4 '17 at 2:33
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    @Robotnik It can definitely get a little hairy at times (1, 2, 3) but considering SE doesn't try to fit the title into any kind of uniform pattern (just look at where "x answers" appears in each of those screenshots) I don't really think it's that bad. – ɥʇǝS Mar 4 '17 at 2:42
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    just put the link position: absolute on the top line of the box instead! – Riking Mar 4 '17 at 17:40
9

Is it possible to expand this? Perhaps allow people who aren't moderators or gold badge holders to submit suggested duplicates after a closure?

On Software Engineering, there are no people with gold badges and only 27 silver badges have been awarded in only 8 tags.

Even looking at other large sites, it seems like there aren't a ton of gold badges. Super User has only awarded 12 gold badges and most are 5 or fewer users. Ask Ubuntu has awarded 5 gold badges and only command-line has more than 3 people.

Stack Exchange is built on spreading out the moderation tasks across the community. I understand the thought that gold badge holders understand a particular topic well enough to identify duplicates and handle linking questions. But on sites that don't have sufficient users with these powers, there's no good alternatives.

I'm debating starting a question on Meta Software Engineering to allow people to point out duplicates, or even suggesting that people flag for moderator attention since we have 0 users outside of the moderator team who can use this functionality. But this doesn't seem sustainable in the long run.

  • My gut feeling is that this is an edge case on most sites. If you're not currently closing a huge number of questions as duplicates, I doubt there'll be a regular need to change or expand links... But, we'll see how it pans out - easy enough to track how often moderators are called on to do this. – Shog9 Mar 4 '17 at 19:23
  • @Shog9 We have 1965 questions closed as duplicate out of a total of 9533 closed questions. That's just over 20% of our closures are duplicates. Per question close stats, duplicate has been 5% of the closures over the past 30 days. It would be easier if more people could edit these before the duplicate questions fell off the recently asked questions. Maybe the data team should see if this really is an edge case? – Thomas Owens Mar 4 '17 at 19:33
  • 5%, yes, but that's 21 questions @Thomas - maybe one per business day. If every single one of them required editing, that might be considered a small burden, but how many actually need it? – Shog9 Mar 5 '17 at 18:49
7

While the revision history has the change, the post itself shows no indication that the dupe target has been changed. So, we have "modified by muru" in the active questions page, but if you go the question, no change anytime in last year. O.o And if the question has never been edited, no link to the revision history either. Since the change is displayed as a revision, perhaps update (or add) the "edited by X" link?

Compare with the Community-bumping issue, where posts now have a notice stating the reason for the bumping. Some sort of visual indication that Mjolnir had wrought change would be nice.

  • 3
    Ah, Oded did get bumping in - cool, I'd missed that. I could see putting a small "edited by..." note in the header. – Shog9 Mar 5 '17 at 18:46
4

Thanks to muscle memory, I reopened and closed to change the duplicate link here. However, in hindsight, I probably did the right thing.

The user who originally marked the question as a duplicate posted a comment explaining how the question is a duplicate of the link that they chose. I then reopened the question and marked it as a duplicate of another question; my answer to that question clearly debunks what the other user said in the comments. Had I edited the duplicate link in-place, their comment would no longer make sense, unless I followed up with another comment saying I changed it (since, realistically, the revision history isn't going to be the first place most people will think of looking in situations like this).

It would be nice if editing duplicate links in-place also modified the "marked as duplicate" notice on the question page, but as I understand if it is not feasible.

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    I've thought this, too, but the "marked as a duplicate" notice only says that the post was closed as a duplicate by certain users, without naming the duplicate target. It might be better to alter the header to include the name(s) of the user(s) who suggested that particular duplicate target. – user642796 Mar 4 '17 at 9:05
3

/

If I edit the duplicates, it shows up nicely in the post edit history and its timeline. However, at present it's missing from the all actions tab in my profile, which would also be good to have.

2

This is a great improvement!

But concerning gold-badges: Since those are awarded for a fixed amount of answers / upvotes, the bar is constantly lowered over time. That affects many aspects of SO sites. A gold-badge is a crude but generally sensible benchmark. But it's also a moving target. And it's constantly moving downhill. SO is not young enough any more to ignore the effects of age.

There should be an element to balance this. Like: gold-badge plus a positive score over the last x years. A pilot license requires active use to be maintained, too.

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    This is intentional - the hope is that the number of privileged closers increases with the need for more curation as a topic ages. – Shog9 Mar 4 '17 at 16:12
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    I think it would be more useful to compare the number of gold-badge users to the traffic: maybe the proportion does not increase? It's also notable that a number of gold-badge users may NOT participate in curation/edition. Just because they happen to have the privilege does not mean they use it (often). It is tiring to shovel crap all day long, after all; I certainly got tired of attempting to read C++ questions, now I just wait for them to pop up in the "hot on the network" list. – Matthieu M. Mar 4 '17 at 19:29
0

What about expanding this feature so that it can also be used by the user who the question? Since the asker of the question can close their own question as a duplicate on their own (by clicking the "This solved my problem" button), it would make sense if they are also be able to decide on their own which question their question is a duplicate of.

In case there is a risk of abuse, it could be enabled only for users who have the View Close Votes privilege, so that only users who have the privilege to vote to close or reopen their own questions have the privilege to edit the duplicate list. Also if a user abuses this feature, a moderator or gold tag badge holder could be able to decide to not allow a specific user to use this feature, gold tag badge holders being able to do so only to users who have already used this feature a certain amount of times on questions with the tag that the tag badge holder has a gold badge for.

Also I think that Thomas Owens' answer is a good idea, so that any user can submit suggested duplicates.

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