I just cast a couple of duplicate votes on Ask Ubuntu and got this exceedingly verbose comment posted on my behalf:

This question is similar to: ... If you believe it’s different, please edit the question, make it clear how it’s different and/or how the answers on that question are not helpful for your problem.

I strongly dislike having so much verbiage being attributed to me. If you must put all of that in a comment, use the Community bot - after all, you do use it for just that elsewhere.

I have posted three separate for ideas and concerns raised here, including mine:

  • 4
    Yeah this is really bad, and will make people stop voting to close as duplicate. In the meanwhile, you can edit or delete the comment. Commented Jun 28 at 6:35
  • 1
    I cast it directly. The problem with editing is that edited auto comments don't get cleaned up automatically. :(
    – muru
    Commented Jun 28 at 6:38
  • 8
    This question is similar to: How does duplicate closing work? When is a question a duplicate, and how should duplicate questions be handled?. If you believe it’s different, please edit the question, make it clear how it’s different and/or how the answers on that question are not helpful for your problem. (The previous text was automatically generated by the system upon casting a duplicate vote; I've removed the vote.) Commented Jun 28 at 7:19
  • 11
    It's also worsened by the fact that users without the required reputation to comment cannot delete automatic comments that were posted on their behalf. Commented Jun 28 at 7:25
  • 1
    @ShadowWizard I don't see how it's be a bug as in unintentional error. At best, it's something they planned to roll out and the "bug" is that they rolled it out early. But overall, it seems quite intentional.
    – VLAZ
    Commented Jun 28 at 7:48
  • 9
    It also makes no sense when voting to close as a duplicate of an unanswered question (allowed on meta sites as well as on main sites if the question was posted by the same author), since it makes a reference to non-existent answers. This was also a flaw in the old automatic comment. Commented Jun 28 at 7:53
  • 5
    Finally, it's not grammatically correct: it's a run-on sentence (comma splice): parts of a sentence that can stand alone as their own sentence cannot be put together using only a comma; either a conjunction word or a semicolon must be used. Commented Jun 28 at 7:59
  • 11
    I still miss the time when the auto-generated dupe comment just said "Possible duplicate of [question title]."
    – F1Krazy
    Commented Jun 28 at 8:50
  • 10
    Actually I do like the new auto-comment, it gives very actionable advice and it might help people understand the concept of 'duplicate' on SE.
    – Marijn
    Commented Jun 28 at 9:09
  • 5
    @muru the comment is posted on the first close vote, the banner only after the question is closed (I think?). The sooner the question is edited the better.
    – Marijn
    Commented Jun 28 at 9:14
  • 1
    @muru indeed attributing it to Community would be nicer. However, I do occasionally get replies from the OP to the (author of the) auto-comment saying "that one doesn't answer my question because X is different", which would not be possible anymore without following the post.
    – Marijn
    Commented Jun 28 at 9:25
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    This is a feature request on MSO that was just marked [status-completed]: meta.stackoverflow.com/a/430805
    – VLAZ
    Commented Jun 28 at 14:18
  • 2
    What a mess. It just proves that sometimes, a popular feature request is a bad idea. Huge pity that out of the thousands of request, they pick the bad ones. Commented Jun 28 at 16:25
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    @F1Krazy To be entirely pedantic, it was originally "possible duplicate of" with a lowercase P. Commented Jun 28 at 17:12
  • 1
    At the very least, it's a grammar [bug]. Even if they want to keep this new template, It should either be "edit the question to make it clear how..." or "edit the question, making it clear how..." or "edit the question; make it clear how..."
    – tdy
    Commented Jun 28 at 21:01

4 Answers 4


Why not use the most possibly minimal text in the autocomment instead of writing a short novel in the name of the user? Something like

This question may be a [duplicate](/help/duplicates) of [link to duplicate].

would be more than adequate and puts nothing in the mouth of whoever casted the close vote.

  • 7
    That was the original, and was excellent. As with most things, SE is against Keep it Simple and do the opposite: making things more complicated, and thus either prone to break, causing much more bugs, or in this case turning something simple to something controversial which annoy many people for no good reason. Commented Jul 1 at 13:30
  • 4
    Note: I personally have no problem with the current autoreply; however I do understand why many may dislike it, and seeing the controversary I see no good reason to keep it instead of the proposed minimal one either.
    – Neinstein
    Commented Jul 2 at 12:02

It's not a test. The change was made in response to "Does this answer your question?" duplicate comment text is silly and confusing, marking it , with a CM writing an answer post there.


I strongly dislike having so much verbiage being attributed to me.

It's not only about how much is said, it's also about what is said.

When casting a close vote, I am neither surmising that the questions may be similar nor expecting the OP to edit anything. What I am saying by casting a close vote is that, as someone who has sufficient experience in the matter, I have reviewed both questions and can affirm that they have the same underlying issue that has the same solution that is presented in the duplicate I am referring to. I'm not asking the OP's opinion. I'm telling them that this is how it is.

I would have left a non-voting comment with the link to the other question if this was not the case.

It is not uncommon to see a new user disagree profusely with the idea that their question may be a duplicate. And way more often than not it turns out to be due to the lack of understanding of their side.

This new wording both encourages the misguided denial on the side of the inexperienced user and puts words in the mouth of the closevoters that they did not necessarily mean to say. Neither of the two is helpful.

It is pointless too, if you remember that three close votes will close the question no matter what (correctly reinforcing the "I'm telling you" pattern), and those can come up rather quickly.
The OP would expect from such extended address that they would now have some time to respond or indeed edit the question, only to find that it was actually closed before they refreshed the page.

(You would be correct in pointing out that the previous "Does this answer your question?" was not exactly "I'm telling you it's a duplicate" either. I wasn't particularly fond of that one either when it replaced the proper "possible duplicate of" a long time ago, for very similar reasons, but this ship has sailed, and this new wording takes it way too far in the same direction.)

  • 2
    "It is pointless too, if you remember that three close votes will close the question no matter what" — reopen votes exist.
    – user202729
    Commented Jul 1 at 13:25
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    "And way more often than not it turns out to be due to the lack of understanding of their side." — true, but for 0.1% of the case where the close voter is wrong, to me it is worth it to be polite by default.
    – user202729
    Commented Jul 1 at 13:26
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    @user202729 The thing is, that comment is very short lived under questions that actually deserve closing (and under those that don't, there shouldn't be a close vote to begin with). The comment is not targeted at the OP to begin with, it's targeted at the fellow close voters, both flagging the question as a freshly identified target and saving them the effort of looking for the duplicate by suggesting one right there. That is why the original "possible duplicate of" was the only correct version. But then the people who didn't quite understand who the comment is targeted at forced it their way.
    – GSerg
    Commented Jul 1 at 15:42
  • 1
    "I'm not asking the OP's opinion. I'm telling them that this is how it is." You're part of the problem; the new text is part of the solution.
    – N. Virgo
    Commented Jul 7 at 3:22
  • @N.Virgo Can you define "the problem"?
    – GSerg
    Commented Jul 7 at 8:21

I've been thinking about it for a while, and came to a conclusion:
this information is not suitable as a comment in the first place.

I think the auto comment for casting a duplicate flag or vote should be removed altogether.

There is already the "official" close banner appearing (for the OP only) on top of the question when there are pending close votes/flags - the information that is currently given in the auto comment should be there.

This auto comment is ancient artifact of the past, before there was the aforementioned banner. It's time to put it to the rest it deserves.

  • 21
    Counterpoint: if I cast a dupe close vote and that vote ages out, then other users (non-OP) would not know that any more without the comment. And knowing there was a dupe vote once is useful - I often encounter such comments from years ago on questions that did not muster enough votes to be closed. I'd evaluate and re-vote. If I have a dupe hammer, that's even better. I do have a SEDE query searching for stray dupe closure comments and I occasionally go through them and hammer what is indeed a dupe.
    – VLAZ
    Commented Jun 28 at 14:14
  • 15
    ^ i've always seen this comment more as a note to other users moreso than to the op, that this is a potential dupe that needs to be confirmed whether or not it's a dupe, before it is answered. Whether or not that needs to be in the form of a comment? eh,
    – Kevin B
    Commented Jun 28 at 14:24
  • 2
    Yes, I'd be happy if there is some other way to find questions that were flagged/close voted as duplicates but not closed. It doesn't have to be a comment but I find it's important that it's: 1. Possible to see after the fact 2. Searchable in some fashion (SEDE or site search or maybe a 10k tool, or some other way).
    – VLAZ
    Commented Jun 28 at 14:33
  • 1
    It would create more work for me. The main site I participate on is here, and per policy, questions can be closed as duplicates of more general questions such as faq posts and other canonical posts. I generally go an extra mile and edit the automatic comment to point out or quote the exact part of the target post that answers a question, and having the system automatically generate a titled link as opposed to me having to manually create it is very nice. Commented Jun 28 at 17:16

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