I understand why we mark questions as duplicates and close them-- it makes sense.
However, I don't think downvotes and duplicates should go hand in hand, which is how the system currently works.
Currently, if someone asks a valid and intriguing question useful to many people, but which has been asked 10x before, they will immediately get 1-4 downvotes. This has happened to me and I've seen it happen to other people.
This is really unfortunate, because often these questions are being asked by new people who are new to programming and new to StackOverflow. They have no idea that asking the difference between the JRE and JVM and JDK is an old question. They're new. Are there existing resources that answer their question? Of course there are, and that's why we mark it as duplicate-- to point them towards those resources.
But downvotes don't convey "hey, good question, but this has been asked before." They convey "This is a stupid question or badly asked. We're not going to waste time answering this." It makes people feel bad and it introduces an atmosphere of negativity that needn't be there-- simply marking a question as duplicate is effective, meaningful, and useful.
But how can we dissociate these two actions?
My best proposition is that marking something as a duplicate should remove its downvotes. If it's a duplicate of a question voted
6, a question we've communally deemed "good," then why does this new person deserve
-4 for wondering the same thing?
I am looking for other ideas of how these things can be separated from each other, as I am not convinced this is the best way and certainly not the only way.