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Here is a recent example of this from one of my questions on English SE:

Question screenshot

The Related questions should be filtered to remove any questions that already appear under Linked. This will avoid confusing the reader by making them think that these are two separate questions. Moreover, it seems that sometimes the score of the question can be different under Linked and Related due to caching, as pointed out in this Meta post.

Update

I was not aware of Linked and Related sections contain duplicate links to questions, thanks for finding it. That was filed as a bug report, and was marked as .

However, I would like to rebut the argument provided in the staff answer to that question, in order to have this reconsidered as a request to change the design.

The staff answer was

It's not truly redundant because, though the links point to the same place, the fact that they're in both lists provides additional information. Specifically, it tells you that the system agrees that the link someone inserted is, in fact, related. The links are already pretty unobtrusive, so the small benefit outweighs the even smaller cost.

From a design perspective, what is the purpose of the sidebar providing links to similar question? The point of this feature, as far as I can tell, is to refer people who searched for this particular question to similar questions, so that they can find more useful information or perhaps the answer they are looking for in another similar question.

The list of Related questions is returned by an algorithm which retrieves questions that have lexical and tag similarities. This is not an absolute list. What is ultimately displayed on the page is probably the top X most Related questions, where X seems to be 7. However, this is an arbitrary number. This does not mean that the 8th most Related question found by the algorithm, which is ultimately not displayed, is necessarily not worth displaying to the user.

Websites like SO tend to have tons of questions related to a particular topic. It would be a waste to display the same question in both lists, if the purpose of the lists is ultimately the same (to refer users to questions that might help them). A Linked question, might, theoretically, not be all that relevant in reality. The same applies for a question deemed as Related by the algorithm. So, we do not gain any concrete information if a question appears in both lists.

On the other hand, having a question appear in both lists is bad UX in my opinion. This is valuable space, and linking to the same post twice not only causes confusion, but can be a hassle. The way it is implemented now, the color change for a hyperlink that you have already clicked is very subtle and might not be discernible by users with low or moderate vision impairment. You would have to open the hyperlink, realize that it’s the same as the one you already saw, and then go back.

So, why not link to a question that could potentially help the user, instead of linking to the same question twice?

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  • 1
    Relevant question: Remove post from the related list if it's in the linked list already (That question was closed without an answer though)
    – hb20007
    Nov 26, 2020 at 14:35
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    The "Related" questions are determined by an algorithm. The "Linked" questions are ones that someone has entered in the question, an answer, or a comment (even if the answer or comment was deleted). Nov 26, 2020 at 15:36
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    There's also a related discussion post here: Do related linked questions really need to be linked twice?.
    – V2Blast
    Oct 23, 2022 at 23:56
  • The "Linked" section contains links provided by users, we assume that they are helpful and correct. The "Related" section contains links chosen by an algorithm (as is already noted in the question), frequently these links are irrelevant; so if you remove the duplicates from the "Related" list then you dilute the usefulness of what is offered, and if the duplicates were removed from the "Linked" list then what has personally suggested as helpful is buried in the list of poorer links - you ask either to write code to make things worse or to expend effort to effect a limited improvement. @uhoh
    – Rob
    Oct 28, 2022 at 3:04
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    @Rob By the same logic; of course if you tweak the algorithm to always include every linked post (frequently these links are highly relevant) in the related post list, you will enhance its usefulness. The problem with both definitions of utility is that they don't include penalties for duplication, which we probably all agree are a part of good web design. I don't see how "we have to have the duplicate here to make this section good" is the best way to look at it, and demonizing folks who ask about improvements with "you ask us to" language is productive. "You vs. us" seems harsh.
    – uhoh
    Oct 28, 2022 at 3:10
  • @uhoh, This was suggested and implemented 13 years ago, and this question asked a dozen years ago. Your bounty bribes the candy maker with virtual candy, if the developers would work for that you'd have something. Enjoy Halloween πŸŽƒ, you little 😈. :)
    – Rob
    Oct 28, 2022 at 3:32
  • @Rob I don't understand any of what you just wrote; I'm still seeing duplication in 2022 so I'm confused about what exactly was implemented (it looks to me like you switched from "it's too much work" to "we did it already"). I appreciate your colorful emoticons, but I have a really simple, flat and non-devilish personality and MO. I simply think that duplicates should be culled from the "related" list for reasons explained in my linked 2022 question. Is the implementation not working?
    – uhoh
    Oct 28, 2022 at 6:20

1 Answer 1

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Extra Suggestion/Request: The staff answer quoted in the question and the body of this question could be addressed if the duplicate links were marked somehow to show they were in both lists, while only providing them once.

a reproduction of the original question's image, showing a linked question with a bright orange asterisk and a tooltip indicating is 'highly related'

Asterisk colour, tooltip message etc all up for debate/change, but this feels like a good compromise.

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