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FINAL EDIT

Thanks for the great answers explaining the concept behind SE and its goals.

However, when it comes to the negative feedback (specifically the downvoting) I think - even in light of the explanations - it's still unhelpful.

The same curation goals can (absolutely IMHO) be accomplished with upvoting alone. But it is the encouraged negative feedback that creates the general mindset of negativity you're attempting to combat.

Put in another way; one can't say it's OK to throw stones, and then be frustrated when the general populace can't (or refuses to) differentiate between the stones you want thrown, and the stones you don't.

===Original post===

TL;DR Can a website which has been founded in the idea of supporting negative feedback as strongly as positive feedback - actually solve the now-very-negative attitude of the site with a CoC?

===

I've been a Stack user for many years as an IT and development professional, and have accrued a moderate reputation. I've also been a technical team leader and nerd herder for more than a decade.

While I applaud Stack's attempt to make the site more inviting, I wonder if a new CoC is not just bandaids and pretty wrapping over a deeper issue.

When Stack Overflow was founded in 2008, there hadn't been much research into how to manage the huge volume of information that passes through forum-style sites. The idea of a community-corrected site, using volunteer moderators - and where both both positive and negative feedback was employed - was highly successful.

However, the encouragement of the "negative feedback" mindset is - inarguably - what has led to the general feeling "unfriendliness" as seen by the internet as a whole. I was told directly by a moderator (during a Meta discussion) [paraphrased from here, see context in footnote*] that Stack's user base should be viewed as children who need to be punished for their stupidity (in order to improve their questions). This mindset is not unique in Stack.

I understand the need for a method to bring solid posts to the top, and drive poor posts to the bottom, however research suggests that positive feedback alone is more than sufficient to cause the same effect.

Quora and Expert's Exchange (before it went commercial) are prime examples of sites where quality posts cleanly rise to the top, and avoid glut and redundancy, without using a negative feedback model.

=== In conclusion... The bottom line is; many highly qualified and experienced members of my teams in the past loved Stack for when Googling a problem, but loathed asking questions - due to the inevitable hassling received for pointless and pedantic reasons. This is good for no one.

So, when the "unfriendliness problem" of the site seems to lie closer to its core mindset - will a sticker on the top saying "Be nice" really help?

  • It was suggested this paraphrase was out of context. It is important to state that this is a paraphrase of the moderators opinion and not an exact quote. However, from the lengthy conversation that moderator and I had - I veleive firmly this is full this opinion of the user base.

EDIT === At the suggestion of the moderator, I'm going to add examples here. I hed initially left these out for the sake of brevity.

Down votes

While I understand the reason they were initially implemented - the web (and forum sites) are now well matured and researched. While "downvoting" may offer a small benefit for moving posts to the top and bottom of a feed - it has been shown by many, many sites that it is not really necessary to accomplish this task.

However it is inarguable that downvoting adds to the "punitive", "hen pecking" mindset of the site. There is - for lack of a better way to say it - a mindset amongst many people to criticize at all costs.

So, the question for the site owners and developer is: does the small benefit offered by "downvoting" towards one of their cited goals (curation of the site) outweigh the large destructiveness towards their other goal (site friendliness).

"Getting downvoted" is an especially large complaint, especially by noobs whose reputation my just be starting out.

Over-policing by moderators

The site MUST be policed to maintain quality. However, in recent years, many moderators seem to have devolved to the mindset that policing the site is their primary duty (versus answering questions or assisting users in becoming better users).

While following the guidelines is important, I find many, many questions that are downvoted or halted altogether for reasons of "policy violation that neither reduce the question's quality - nor would have made it better.

In fact, I can think of a dozen questions by team members in the past that following the question policies to the letter (or following the moderators suggestions) would have made the question harder to understand not better.

All regulations must strike a balance between following the "letter" of the law, and the "purpose" of the law. The site seems to have drifted strongly towards the letter, versus the goals.

Redundancy

This one is a difficult one. While I completely agree with the need to reduce a million questions asking the same thing, I have also experienced the site. And it is commonplace that one question in a subject is neither entirely correct, nor does it entirely cover the necessary problem.

In fact, nearly without exception, when I Google Stack only for answers - I find I have to read 2 or 3 very similar answers in order to find the complete solution that fixes my problem.

IN the "early days" when storage was expensive, databases overwhelmed, and Google algorithms imprecise - I would agree more with the redundancy issue.

However with the modern cheap storage, pinpoint searches, and powerful databases - killing a question outright for similarities to others seem unnecessary. Again, I can quote a half dozen questions asked by my team which were flagged as redundant (and closed down) when, in fat, they were completely dissimilar to the question referenced in the "already answered" link. Which relates to the final idea...

No method of review

I understand the moderators are volunteers, and individuals (with good and bad days), and whose time is valuable.

However, many moderators have developed a sense of inflexibility in their kingdoms. And, once a decision is made, there is ZERO recourse. I can understand this also helps avoid arguments. But in cases where the mod is, unfortunately, wrong - This leads to terrible frustrations amongst users, especially when the moderators follow them.

I myself once wrote a question, and had it closed down as redundant. However, the linked answer didn't address the problem. The automated message on the shutdown response itself suggested [paraphrased], "Try asking the question again, explaining how the answer to which it is redundant does not suffice".

I did, and it was immediately (within seconds) shut down by the same moderator saying [NOT paraphrased], "This is not how you make friends on this site."

While, again, I understand people, and bad days - this mindset of "fiefdom" has begun to be more prevalent in Stack. Which directly affects the operator's stated desire to make the site friendlier.

EDIT

@S.L. Barth "What might work better, is if you had references to actual scientific research that shows how less/no downvoting can still keep the poor content out."

Very valid point. While much of my information on this is a few years old (when I was running a web development team), Here is one link that helps support the idea. As all researchers know, "One paper does not a fact make" - but I will continue adding more as I find them again :)

Some more links, both pro and con

The Effects of Feedback and Habit on Content Posting in an Online Community

Rating Effects on Social News Posts and Comments

The rhetorical constitution of online community: Identification and constitutive rhetoric in the community of reddit

closed as unclear what you're asking by Ward, Robert Longson, Sonic the Anonymous WizHog, Glorfindel, Aziz Shaikh Oct 30 '18 at 5:07

Please clarify your specific problem or add additional details to highlight exactly what you need. As it's currently written, it’s hard to tell exactly what you're asking. See the How to Ask page for help clarifying this question. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

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    What sort of negative feedback are you referring to? You mention it several times, but you're not explicitly pointing out what, exactly, that feedback is. – fbueckert Oct 29 '18 at 13:48
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    @ErikvonAsmuth. Thanks for the input. My goal is only to help the designers of the website improve the site, and meet their own stated goals. I also appreciate the expected downvote. I just hope some fo the site's decision makers at least have the opportunity to see the post before it is inevitably downvoted to oblivion. The love of downvoting for reasons that - while pedantically correct regarding the rules of the site - seem contrary to the goals of the site....seems to be part of the core issue. Juts my two cents. – BurningKrome Oct 29 '18 at 13:50
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    I don't think Quora and Experts-Exchange are useful examples. They are usually shown as examples of what Stack Exchange should not become. What might work better, is if you had references to actual scientific research that shows how less/no downvoting can still keep the poor content out. – S.L. Barth Oct 29 '18 at 13:54
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    Downvoting is a core curation activity. If a post is merely, "meh", not worthy of upvotes, how do you differentiate between those and the really bad ones? Because make no mistake; there are bad questions. The primary purpose of downvotes is to send a signal to future readers; "don't waste your time with this post". That saves those readers from wasting their time on substandard content, which helps them in the long run. That seems quite valuable to me. – fbueckert Oct 29 '18 at 13:55
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    @fbueckert A second example is the (becoming notorious) tendency of moderators to downvote or disable questions for reasons that - while in accordance with the pedantic policies of the site - are not useful for maintaining the actual quality of the site. In mayn instances, I've seen questions that - had they been written in "better accordance with the rules" - would have actually been less clear. Many moderators seem to have adopted the idea that their primary goal is pedantic policing - versus actually helping uses succeed. – BurningKrome Oct 29 '18 at 13:55
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    To build a high quality repository of knowledge, to help all programmers/<current site expertise>. It's less about helping the specific asker with their question, than it is to help those that come after the asker. Those future readers. A question that only helps one person, and can't help anyone else, isn't a very good question. Hence why typo-type questions are usually closed and deleted, as an example. – fbueckert Oct 29 '18 at 14:01
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    @fbueckert "Well, according to current site usage...it doesn't seem to stop people from posting. " Well, as a practicing data scientists myself, we can't know that without actually looking at the data. Obviously, it's not causing the site to fold completely - but Stack Overflow does, absolutely, have the reputation for being the 'mean girls' of the web. (continued) – BurningKrome Oct 29 '18 at 14:34
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    @fbueckert And, again, the site owners have stated unequivocally with their new CoC - that they want to curb that (mean girls) reputation. IMHO, I don't see how that can be done when - implicitly - they also encourage people to tell others "they suck" (yes, I'm being hyperbolic). But, less hyperbolically, one really can't say, "Be nicer, but - you know - negativity is OK" at the same time. They are mutually exclusive ideas. And while it is not explicitly saying "Be bitchy" - it absolutely drives the mentality. – BurningKrome Oct 29 '18 at 14:36
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    @S.L.Barth valid point. I added one that I had offhand. I'll have to find the other again. – BurningKrome Oct 29 '18 at 14:42
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    That flipside of the CoC is assuming good faith of the editors and curators also – Magisch Oct 29 '18 at 14:43
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    You posit downvoting does little. I disagree with that premise. The rest is setting expectations. – fbueckert Oct 29 '18 at 14:46
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    @BurningKrome I'd argue a bit of the anxiety everyone (even the most established contributors!) get whenever they post because their post is subject to potential downvotes actually helps the site. The existance of a real chance of negative consequence (being downvoted and eventually Q/A banned) is a powerful motivator to be on top of your game. Related recent post on MSO about that – Magisch Oct 29 '18 at 14:50
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    I get a little tingle every time I click that "post answer" button. Every time there's a voice in the back of my mind "somethin's at stake, you could get downvoted for this" and every time I have to assure myself "I've done the best I can" or do some more before I can make that assurance. That's a self-motivational tool this site is very good at using on its users. – Magisch Oct 29 '18 at 14:53
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    @SPArchaeologist t was in fact from that series of posts (not just the one). I did mention it was paraphrased. And I will go back and add some context. However, my impression from his series of posts - was this was absolutely Tim's view on the user base. – BurningKrome Oct 29 '18 at 15:09
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    @BurningKrome The site's stated primary purpose is to maintain high quality Q/A. Reducing unnecessary hostility (which the CoC is aimed at) is an important factor for maintaining the high quality Q/A. A certain level of hostility, negativity and fear is always going to be necessary to prevent the site from degenerating. As you have said and Tim has alluded to, it's a balance. I can't speak for how they'll find the balance, but evidence points that it'll be an organic process undertaken by the community. – Magisch Oct 29 '18 at 15:10
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You've done a pretty good job of figuring this out, you just didn't realize it :)

due to the inevitable hassling received for pointless and pedantic reasons. This is good for no one.

A significant reason that your co-workers found the site to be so well represented in search engines was many of those things you described as pointless and pedantic. Stack Overflow started with the stated goal of becoming a very high-quality resource, and the entire product was built around accomplishing that.

Since everyone knew what we were doing, we didn't notice how the product itself didn't explain and reinforce that goal at every turn until people that hadn't heard of that mission statement started coming in as the dissonance grew louder. We just reinforced it. That's a dangerous disconnect.

We need the product to set people's expectations. Here's a great analogy, ready? Here's how the first 100,000 users of Stack Overflow perceived Stack Overflow when we started, and even more still today:

picture of giant castle

Here's how people that just really want a fast answer to their question often perceive Stack Overflow:

picture of a pillow fort

What's the big difference, other than one place being a little larger than the other, and, an actual castle? EXPECTATIONS. We're relying on decades old assumptions to continue to guide the user journey and that's a really big problem. Fixing that, the user experience from cradle to grave so people have some inclination that muddy footprints on the floors would be impolite is a top, top TOP priority.

But, it's not just about the downvotes.

People were getting really mean. And I'm not talking about comments like "That's just not optimal, and plain wrong", I'm talking about really mean stuff. And it wasn't just on the main site, it was in chat and meta too. Continuing to have no formal code of conduct in the face of so many reports of wildly hostile or inappropriate behavior is a tacit endorsement of that behavior, and that is simply not acceptable.

We need to get to a place where people don't walk up to something that people have spent tens of thousands of hours working on and see a pillow fort. Those folks need to know they're walking into the halls of knowledge, and contributions should be lasting ones.

But at the same time, we must admit that at least two graduating classes have passed since we started the site, needs are changing, and Stack Overflow isn't keeping up as well as it should. People need to see themselves in it in order to want to treat it with respect and in order for that to happen, we have to make some changes so they can at least visualize a scenario where they'd like to stick around.

The CoC doesn't solve our social issues, it admits that we have them. The real commitment is understanding that we failed to notice that we were still operating on a ton of assumptions and needed a reality check for relevancy.

Stack Overflow is always going to make people a little nervous, but we need to make it (again) be for really good reasons. We also have to deal with our industry as it is, which (right now) is experiencing some pretty painful growth pains when it comes to inclusivity and equal treatment, and we need to be there for everyone.

So yeah, it's a deeper issue, but in no way did we expect (or predict) that a simple social contract was going to change everything. That's just the start.

My prediction? Once our software sets expectations much more accurately, you'll see a lot less pent-up frustration leaking out at any convenient vent, and then we can get a better idea of the size of the problem that remains.

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    Here's hoping your last paragraph remains true. – Magisch Oct 29 '18 at 14:56
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    Beautiful response. The one question that remains, and of course is the most difficult to answer is; where is the "value added" line for the pedantry? Certainly it helps maintain a certain quality. But like all regulations, there's a Aristotelian balance that must be struck between the value provided by the regulation, and the unintended harmful backfire. In other words, the pedantic rule following and "downvoting" may offer value. But does that value (at least at the current levels) outweigh the harm that is absolutely creates towards your own stated goal. And how to find that balance? – BurningKrome Oct 29 '18 at 15:04
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    @BurningKrome Maybe you're looking at it from a different angle than I am. What I'm proposing is our product should make it not seem like pedantry. If our software is making people feel bad, we should first examine how we could be alleviating users of responsibilities that might be a bit too onerous :) I'm not convinced that maintaining pedantic standards and being fully inclusive and rewarding to most people are mutually-exclusive goals. It's just a darn hard problem. – Tim Post Oct 29 '18 at 15:15
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    @BurningKrome When building, say, a house, does the engineer go, "Eh, that's close enough, it'll work"? Or do they go, "Hey, if we build it that way, it'll stay up ten years, tops"? We're here to build a lasting repository of knowledge. That means ensuring posted content meets those strict criteria, to withstand that test of time. Look towards the future; will this post still be useful in a decade. That's what matters. – fbueckert Oct 29 '18 at 15:15
  • IMHO the CoC is a lot less clear than the old "be nice" policy. Aside from the chaotic layout of the page, it seems a lot less specific. I especially miss the first item: "Rudeness and belittling language are not okay. Your tone should match the way you'd talk in person with someone you respect and whom you want to respect you. If you don't have time to say something politely, just leave it for someone who does", and some others as well. I have a lot harder time distilling that from the CoC. – Martin Tournoij Oct 29 '18 at 21:52
  • My point being, I don't really see this as a "better social contract" or setting "better expectation", but rather the reverse. – Martin Tournoij Oct 29 '18 at 21:53
14

While I applaud Stack's attempt to make the site more inviting, I wonder if a new CoC is not just bandaids and pretty wrapping over a deeper issue.

It is neither. The CoC should be thought of as a part of a process, not the end. SE didn't go, "hey, we have a bit of a culture problem. Let's make our rules more clear; that will totally fix everything." I expect that there will be other things, but I also expect that the core aspects of the site are not going to change.

For the following reasons:

When Stack Overflow was founded in 2008, there hadn't been much research into how to manage the huge volume of information that passes through forum-style sites.

First correction: Stack Exchange is not a forum. We aren't here to promote discussion; we are here to create knowledge. Preferably accurate knowledge.

So, the question for the site owners and developer is: does the small benefit offered by "downvoting" towards one of their cited goals (curation of the site) outweigh the large destructiveness towards their other goal (site friendliness).

... yes. Especially since the benefit is not "small".

Being able to downvote bad content, rather than just not upvoting it, is vital towards the goal of creating useful knowledge. If someone answers a question with code that is flat-out wrong, or actively dangerous, there needs to be an immediate indicator that the code is in fact wrong and/or dangerous. Not some comment thread you see after you scroll down a bit; it has to be the first thing you see.

Such determinations are not "opinions" that can/should be shrugged off. Especially if lots of people hold the same view. And considering the consequences of disseminating bad/dangerous advice in programming, there must be some method of quality control. Not merely for good answers to rise to the top, but just as much for bad answers sinking to the bottom.

When I'm looking for questions to answer, I want to be able to know if it is a worthwhile question. The question score serves this purpose. It prevents me from wasting time with garbage, poorly-thought out, or otherwise useless questions.

It makes my life as a provider of content better, since I spend more of my time with well-conceived, interesting, and useful questions.

This is not a "small benefit"; it is a big part of why I am here. It services the primary goal of the site, and it does so effectively. And it makes me enjoy my time on the site.

From the comments:

The "marker" is, indeed, the num of votes that is has. And I do use that marker. However, the marker works provably just as well with "upvotes" only and - even if downvotes are arguably useful

Consider the following case:

You see a question with two answers. One has +10, the other has +2. It is obvious to you that more people think the +10 answer is better. OK, fine.

Now imagine the same question, only with just the +2 answer. The natural conclusion, since the answer has been upvoted twice, is that this is a decent answer to the question.

But if we're living in your "upvote only" world, that answer may in fact be terrible. People give upvotes to bad content; the concept of "pity-upvotes" is well-documented. So a bad post getting a couple of upvotes is hardly unreasonable. And there are cases where people just sometimes don't see the bug. It happens.

Any number of people might have recognized the bad answer for what it is. But without the option to downvote the post, there is little they can do.

Therefore, any answer that has no competition is equally "correct" in your world. And if every answer is correct... none of them are.

Oh yes, we could comment on the post, but commenting invites discussion. Many people can't handle being called out on their own mistakes on the Internet, and will argue fervently that their post is fine. That's a waste of everyone's time, when you could just stick a "this is terrible, don't do it" sign on the post and move on.

Furthermore, comments appear at the wrong place on a post for this purpose. Note that the vote total appears at the start of a post; it's the first thing you see about it. Comments appear at the end. So even if you do deign to take the chance on a comment thread argument, there are many people who will never see it. They see an upvoted post, they read the text, and the damage has already been done. A comment might correct it, but there's no guarantee of that.

Voting, both up and down, is a more efficient and effective method of communicating the quality of a post.

Your "upvote only" world is even less useful for questions. At least with answers there is the possibility of competition, with a default sort ordering based on votes. With questions, how can you tell if, behind a particular link, you will find a genuinely well-considered, well-stated question, or a piece of time-wasting filth? You don't.

+2 means nothing on questions.

You'd have to come up with ad-hoc methods for estimating quality, like comparing the time it was posted to its score. If it was posted 2 hours ago and has a low score (<=2), then it's clearly crap.

... unless of course the question is posted on low traffic tags. In those cases, the question may simply not have been seen by very many people. So that assumption breaks down. I see 0, +1, +2. How do I know which ones are good and which ones happened to be visited by particularly gracious users who just "like" everything they see?

With downvotes, even in a low-traffic tag, bad questions will still get one or two downvotes, which is enough to let you know what is not worthwhile.

Your system only works if we assume that everyone will upvote everything that is at least minimally passable. That's not a good world even if everyone does it, because it divides everything into only two groups: bad and not-bad.

"Good" has no place in such a world, because you cannot tell a truly exceptional post from a "not-bad" one.

No, at the end of the day, an upvote-only world is a terrible place to be if you actually care about the quality of content.

Back to the post:

(versus answering questions or assisting users in becoming better users).

Second correction: our goal is not to "assist users in becoming better users".

The Stack Exchange Q&A model is designed to minimize interaction. Think of it like if you scrawled your question on a bathroom stall. Some time later, someone else comes in to do their business, sees your question, and decides to answer it. And later, when you come back to do your business, you find an answer.

That is the ideal of how SE is meant to work. We are not here for hand-holding or to provide personal assistance. The more of that we do, the further our model breaks down.

Indeed, this breakdown a big part of the negativity problem on SO. If a user asks a question poorly, then two things happen. Answerers get annoyed because they have to deal with yet-another bad question. And the asker gets annoyed because they're not getting what they need.

If the asker had just asked a good question to start with, if they had done their research and made a good-faith effort on their own to solve the problem first, if they asked a complete, answerable, properly-scoped question, none of that would have happened.

While following the guidelines is important, I find many, many questions that are downvoted or halted altogether for reasons of "policy violation that neither reduce the question's quality - nor would have made it better.

In fact, I can think of a dozen questions by team members in the past that following the question policies to the letter (or following the moderators suggestions) would have made the question harder to understand not better.

All regulations must strike a balance between following the "letter" of the law, and the "purpose" of the law. The site seems to have drifted strongly towards the letter, versus the goals.

While I agree that there is a bit of lawyering that goes on when it comes to site policies (usually attempts to stretch the interpretation of close reasons so that it covers stuff that the person doesn't want on the site), I don't think this problem is as big as you suggest.

Yes, there are times when someone reflexively asks for an MCVE for a question that doesn't warrant one. But these aren't that common, and someone else usually counters such requests.

In fact, nearly without exception, when I Google Stack only for answers - I find I have to read 2 or 3 very similar answers in order to find the complete solution that fixes my problem.

That is how the site is supposed to work. If your problem is not exactly identical to the OP's question, you may need to see several different approaches in order to massage it into the form you need.

Encouraging users to think for themselves is not a bad thing.

IN the "early days" when storage was expensive, databases overwhelmed, and Google algorithms imprecise - I would agree more with the redundancy issue.

Dupe-voting has nothing to do with storage. It has to do with not destroying the will of users to contribute.

See this question? It gets asked at least once every 2 weeks in my tags of choice. It gets asked in different forms, but it's always asking for the same thing. It's just that the OP probably doesn't realize that.

Now, why should I (or anyone else) waste my time providing the same answer to all of them?

By closing them as duplicates, the asker gets the information they need, and the answers don't have to waste their time repeatedly answering the same question over and over again.

Having to answer the same things is one of the ways information providers on forums burn out. They get so disgusted with saying the same stuff that they just leave. Stack Overflow prevents that.

This site has become what it is by making the lives of those who provide answers easier. Undo that at your peril.

I myself once wrote a question, and had it closed down as redundant. However, the linked answer didn't address the problem. The automated message on the shutdown response itself suggested [paraphrased], "Try asking the question again, explaining how the answer to which it is redundant does not suffice".

Then the automatic message should be corrected.

citation

I could not care less. You can site whatever studies you want, but SO is not a forum. The negative aspects of the site are important.

Now, they don't necessarily have to be done in the way they currently are, but there needs to be some equivalent for them. However, the Powers that Be are unlikely to radically revolutionize everything about SO, so you're going to have to live with it.

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    Also well said. I don't agree with some of the sentiments, but I understand them. I will also add the same context to my OP as you did to yours; I'm not suggesting binary changes (perhaps with the exception of downvoting). But, for example, marking dups is certainly necessary - although it seems to have swung far too much to one side. Questions are too often are marked as dupes, and the user redirected to another answer, that does not actually answer (or sometimes even address) the question asked. The policing has become more zealous than needed to meet stated quality goal. – BurningKrome Oct 29 '18 at 15:22
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    And I do feel I should reiterate that; yes, I understand there is a lot of redundancy. But even outside storage and database requirements, modern search engines and filters make sorting through this redundancy fairly trivial. And while this, in and of itself, is not an argument against marking duplicates - I remind that nearly every problem I have requires my reading 2 or 3 "redundant" posts on SE in order for my specific problems to be relevantly addressed. So, redundancy offer some value, and some drawback. And a balance must be found. I suggest it leans too far to one side. – BurningKrome Oct 29 '18 at 15:30
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    @BurningKrome: Why do you want other people to spend that time providing information that already exists in a perfectly valid and comprehensible form? Do you not respect the time of others more than your own? We are not magic answer boxes who have nothing better to do than to re-explain everything to everyone who shows up. – Nicol Bolas Oct 29 '18 at 15:32
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    Finally, I must also point out, that marking a question redundant does not remove it from the database - nor make it unsearchable. So while marking it as redundant may make less of a time-waster for people who wish to answer questions ... it certainly does not create any changes from a "glut" position. However, if the question is not truly redundant, then the knowedge-base suffers and there is no recourse. – BurningKrome Oct 29 '18 at 15:33
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    @BurningKrome: "So while marking it as redundant may make less of a time-waster for people who wish to answer questions ... it certainly does not create any changes from a "glut" position." I don't know what you mean by a "glut position". The point is how much time a user has to spend to deal with previously answered questions. Also, duplicates are useful because they can be searched. That means that different phrasings of the same question can lead to the right information without having to duplicate that information. – Nicol Bolas Oct 29 '18 at 15:35
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    That's why it's important to recognize that we're not "marking a question redundant"; we're marking it as a duplicate of an existing question. The word "redundant" implies "unnecessary". – Nicol Bolas Oct 29 '18 at 15:36
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    (Nicol Bolas) I honestly don't want to at all. However, my argument is that too many questions are being marked dups that - in fact - are NOT dups, due to overzealousness ... and this hurst the knowledge base. As I mentioned, in my personal experience - no one question ever fully addresses a given problem. I always (and I do not use that word lightly) have to read a couple of similar questions to find the correct answer. And often, due to haste and overzealousness, questions that are not dupes get marked. (continued) – BurningKrome Oct 29 '18 at 15:36
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    If a question is not a duplicate, it's on the asker to show how it's not a duplicate; we're not mind readers, so if they give us incomplete information, we can only do so much. One fun fact of duplicates: if you're not logged in to the site, viewing a duplicate auto-redirects to the source page. Search results find the duplicate, readers read the source. No need to manually click at all. – fbueckert Oct 29 '18 at 15:39
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    (Nicol Bolas) This happened to me just a few days ago. I had a coding issue in "c" (something I'm just learning now, I'm 10 years Python) and used a question to try and solve an issue. But it didn't work, because in fact, the solution was provided was not completely correct (it had a fatal flaw). My question was not duped, but instead answered. The next person with that question will - hopefully - see both posts and between the two of them will be able to deduce the actually correct solution. – BurningKrome Oct 29 '18 at 15:40
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    @BurningKrome: "it had a fatal flaw" Now, wouldn't it have been great if there was some marker on that answer, to let you know that you shouldn't use it? Like if it were downvoted or something? – Nicol Bolas Oct 29 '18 at 15:42
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    @fbueckert " ...it's on the asker to show how it's not a duplicate." Yes, absolutely. However, see my examples. In one instance, there was simply no recourse to get the question opened up again - even after showing how it was not a dup. In another, the moderator (perhaps having a bad day) actually came specifically after me with hostility for daring to post the question again - even though it included the information that explained why it was not a dup. He was simply pissed for my doing it, even though it is the recommended procedure. – BurningKrome Oct 29 '18 at 15:43
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    (Nicol Bolas) "Now, wouldn't it have been great if there was some marker on that answer" It would have been better if the flaw had been corrected. The "marker" is, indeed, the num of votes that is has. And I do use that marker. However, the marker works provably just as well with "upvotes" only and - even if downvotes are arguably useful - my downvoting the question neither offers 'a why' I downvoted it, nor actually shows that I downvoted it if it's still in the positive. I can offer a comment, which would be useful - and remains just as useful with out without downvotes. – BurningKrome Oct 29 '18 at 15:49
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    (Nicol Bolas) Point being that, upvotes alone demonstrably creates the same marker at the same value level. The comment left offers the real value for the user, regardless of whether downvotes existed. And downvoting it simply reduces it's visibility - which honestly would be bad, because it's a small typo which, unfortunately, breaks the code. A more experienced c programming probably wouldn't see or (nor make the same mistake). It would have been far better for the value of the knowledge base to leave the post ranked high, with the correction annotated. – BurningKrome Oct 29 '18 at 15:51
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    @fbueckert Sorry. I thought you were referring to a different dup. No, I agree to an extent. It may have bee a legitimate dup. But, the site itself says re-post it with an explanation as to why it's not a dup. I did. And the moderator's did not simply mark it again as a dup and explain why it was still a dup. He ignored my explanation and followed with a veiled threat was utterly inappropriate under any circumstance. Period. (I will add, there was more conversation after the threat. And SE administrators had to be involved. It was not misconstrued.) – BurningKrome Oct 29 '18 at 15:57
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    @BurningKrome: It should also be noted that "moderator" on SE typically means elected people who have been given special powers to deal with exceptional issues. These are users with a diamond character after their names. Users with close-vote powers aren't "moderators" in that sense. – Nicol Bolas Oct 29 '18 at 16:08

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