About two years ago, I tried out Stack Exchange for the first time. And one issue that continues to haunt me is the god-forbidden 'tagged as duplicate' tag.

Why must we have to search this website for an answer to a question that may or may not even be correct?

I thought the sole purpose of Stack Exchange was to give people answers to questions they cannot find elsewhere.

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    No, that is not correct: the sole purpose of StackExchange was to give people answers to questions they cannot find elsewhere. The purpose of Stack Exchange Q/A model is to be a repository of knowledge in the form of a single question and their answers. People come here to find the same question they have. Not 42 similar questions. – rene Nov 2 '20 at 17:13
  • sigh I always seem to get my facts screwed over-- – Eevee Nov 2 '20 at 17:14
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    "What we want is on the order of 4 or 5 similar-but-not-quite-the-same duplicates to cover all possible search terms and common permutations of the question." As to "Why must we have to search this website for an answer" - because if people aren't doing that, what's the point of any of this? – jonrsharpe Nov 2 '20 at 17:16
  • Maybe. If you meant something else then that needs some elaboration. – rene Nov 2 '20 at 17:16
  • if you look at my profile page you will see that a lot of my questions are flagged as duplicates. I ask them anyway because I find it quaintly difficult to find another question like them... I hope this helps – Eevee Nov 2 '20 at 17:18
  • What do you mean with we have to search this website for an answer to a question that may or may not even be correct?. Is the question not correct or the answer? Or both? – rene Nov 2 '20 at 17:18
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    the answer-- there are a lot of people out there that will just answer something completely random. – Eevee Nov 2 '20 at 17:19
  • Not on a Stack Exchange site. – rene Nov 2 '20 at 17:20
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    Meta needs a meta head. So yes, it is easy to get things wrong here. Maybe useful to read: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/333476/… – rene Nov 2 '20 at 17:23
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    Does this answer your question? Someone flagged my question as already answered, but it's not – gnat Nov 2 '20 at 19:09

If there's already an answer there, then you should absolutely be pointed to it. It burns our time and energy repeating/rehashing the same thing for everyone that might ask it because they're wearing a different hat.

While you shouldn't take it personal if you can't find it, you should still look around. A question closed as a dupe is a gentle enough reminder that you didn't look hard enough, and that should be something you do asking questions going forward.

Note: if the answer is incorrect or isn't suitable, that's fine! You can still ask your question, but cite your source on why the duplicate or suggested duplicate isn't suitable for your needs.

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    thank you for helping me with this issue-- and i would like to say I really appreciate the way you worded this. Me, being a long-time Reddit user makes the downvote the most toxic thing on earth, and I'm not great at taking criticism. I love how kind everyone is here! – Eevee Nov 2 '20 at 17:28
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    Sure. Coming from someone who has only ever glanced at Reddit and isn't a part of their voting culture, I know that we're kinda sorta like them, but you should honestly divorce any pre-existing stigma of how they vote from how we vote. We're not them, and hopefully you'll start to see that. – Makoto Nov 2 '20 at 17:38

Yes we expect you to search for existing questions and their answers first and to see whether those answers answer your question. If they don't you can ask a new question and that searching is your research that you should then include in your question. It's how we know what to focus on, we can concentrate on that specific missing piece that you don't understand.

There's a limited group of people that answer questions here. Do you think that what they want to do is answer the same question day after day after day? How long do you think they'd last if we asked them to do such a repetetive task? We want those people who are subject matter experts to expand our body of knowledge and not just have them endlessly repeat things.

If your question is closed as a duplicate and you think its answers don't apply, edit the question and explain why not. Your question should then be reopened so someone can answer it and because you've explained specifically why the existing answers aren't appropriate we can focus on that point.

If the duplicate does apply then you got your answer. Additionally your question can serve as a signpost to that answer if that's helpful.

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    i mean, there are some very high rep people who do seem quite happy to answer duplicates day in and day out – user400654 Nov 2 '20 at 17:35
  • @user400654: Yes, indeed. Though their motivation vary. E.g. (not exhaustive) - 1) Some lazy recruiter requires at least X reputation points 2) "I just want to help." 3) Reputation points addiction (the gamification system worked too well) – P.Mort. - forgot Clay Shirky_q Nov 4 '20 at 15:14

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