I'm quite new to Stack exchange, and I have only asked a few questions. But more than half of the questions were quickly closed as off-topic/duplicate/etc.

I understand that noone wants Spam questions, but this sometimes goes to far. I even wonder: Do you get rewards if you flag a question and it gets closed?

My other problem is the one with duplicate questions. What is the harm, having a question around that may be a duplicate, but has an entirely different title?

I always search for a while, before I ask a question, but you aren't able to find everything. Sometimes you could even profit from them, by finding other questions/answers way quicker.

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    Whats the point in having loads of the same question, with aswers spread out? Better to have one good Q&A than a load of half arsed ones, don't you think? – Mark Kirby Apr 8 '18 at 18:25
  • Very related: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/10841/… – Mark Kirby Apr 8 '18 at 18:28
  • @MarkKirby That's right, of course, but if you only have one answered question, it is hard to find. And I don't think your linked question is very related since it is more about what do when you see a duplicate... – SomeWindowsUser Apr 8 '18 at 18:31
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    Duplicates are not removed, they can still be found by searching and simply link to the original post, like this one askubuntu.com/questions/1023132/… – Mark Kirby Apr 8 '18 at 18:32
  • To answer your question about why people want to close your question as duplicates and if there are rewards for doing so: no, there is just a collective desire to have one canonical Q&A (as other have mentioned). Duplicates aren't removed, so someone who finds the duplicate can find their way to the canonical Q&A which will usually have the most voted and peer-reviewed answers. – Kodos Johnson Apr 8 '18 at 18:42
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    @KodosJohnson Thanks, I see my question as answered. – SomeWindowsUser Apr 8 '18 at 18:46
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    Possible duplicate of meta.stackexchange.com/questions/290602/… :p (kidding BTW) – Marshmallow Apr 9 '18 at 9:01
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    Duplicates aren't closed because they're a problem. People close your questions as duplicates to help you (and others with the same question) find an answer. They just want to help you. – Donald Duck Apr 9 '18 at 18:57
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    Please don't add that meta noise again to your question. It doesn't belong there. – rene Apr 9 '18 at 20:59

What is the harm, having a question around that may be a duplicate, but has an entirely different title?

There isn't much harm in having a few alternate wordings of a common question leading to a good answer - as you say, it helps more people find that answer.

BUT - there would be no point in making someone else write out the same answer again!

That's why often, closing as a duplicate is the best of all worlds - it helps the person who wrote the question, and anyone in the future who would have worded the question that same way, without anyone having to take the time to answer. (Note that good duplicate questions shouldn't be deleted.)

Of course if the number of duplicates of an existing question becomes too great, that might start to impede people from finding answers, rather than helping - so at some point, posting yet another duplicate of a common question might start to be viewed negatively.

  • That makes sence of course. I didn't know that you can still see and access closed questions. – SomeWindowsUser Apr 8 '18 at 18:39
  • @SomeWindowsUser some do get deleted, but moderators generally shouldn't delete questions that still add value to the site. – topo morto Apr 8 '18 at 18:45
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    @SomeWindowsUser you confuse closed with deleted. Deleted questions can't indeed be accessed and are not visible in search results. Questions closed as off topic (not duplicate) which have 0 or negative score are auto deleted after a while. – Shadow The Curly Braced Wizard Apr 8 '18 at 18:46

There's no "reward" just for closing posts as duplicates. The motivation comes from wanting to help clean up the site, and help future users find good content.

We close posts as duplicates so we can have a de-facto post that explains the issue, instead of a thousand people explaining the same thing over and over again every time it comes up.

Perfect example: NullPointerExceptions. We get many questions every day regarding fixing NPEs on Stack Overflow. 99% of the time, they're all the exact same fix, which is explained in the de-facto duplicate post "What are NullPointerExceptions and how do I fix it". We don't need new answers every time just to tell people to ensure that their variables are properly initialized, and mention the other edge cases. The answer in the main dupe target explains it better than most people could, and directing people to the existing, great answer helps people learn better. We also don't need to give personalized answers to every possible question. People should be able to read over the dupe posts and connect the dots to their problem.

It should also be noted that getting your post closed as a dupe isn't all bad. Yes, it can be a sign that you did insufficient research, but your post is not deleted because it was closed as a dupe. It remains as another way to direct people to the existing good answers in the established question. Your duplicate question helps more people find the right answer on the future; it's just that the right answer isn't in your question itself, but the post that it links to.

  • So you can still see closed questions? – SomeWindowsUser Apr 8 '18 at 18:28
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    @SomeWindowsUser Yes. Closed questions remain, and even still show up in Google searches. That way, different posts with different wordings increase the likelihood that someone will be directed to the right answer. Deleted questions aren't viewable by new users and don't show up in searches, but deleted is different than closed. Closed just means no new answers are accepted on the question. – Carcigenicate Apr 8 '18 at 18:31
  • Ok, I didn't know that. – SomeWindowsUser Apr 8 '18 at 18:35
  • There isn't technically a badge for closing questions (as duplicate or otherwise). The badges given for working the close votes queue is based off total actions, which also includes deciding to leave questions open. – Laurel Apr 8 '18 at 22:02
  • @Laurel Orly? I could have sworn there was a flagging badge. Thanks, I'll update the post. – Carcigenicate Apr 8 '18 at 22:03
  • There's also a few flagging badges, but again, that's not all about closing questions. (Only users below 3k rep can flag for closure anyway.) Flagging includes flags like comment flags, NAA flags, spam flags, and custom moderator flags, none of which have anything to do with closing questions. – Laurel Apr 8 '18 at 22:07
  • @Laurel Ya, I used the wrong word. I'm trying to do like 5 things at once while I'm heading out the door. – Carcigenicate Apr 8 '18 at 22:08

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