If so, in what conditions? Look at the book question. It's a duplicate hell. It can't be true that they were all posted in same minutes(I didn't check). There wasn't so many duplicates when I read the whole thread a while ago. What has happened? Are we supposed not to flag them?


3 Answers 3


Do you seriously expect everyone who wants to dedicate a few minutes of their free time to first read the 519 already existing answers?

It seems a rather unreasonable request. If you see duplicates then flag them, but don't be surprised if there are!

  • My thoughts exactly but it's a very popular question I am suprised there are so many,it seems unlike nobody else saw them. I'm waiting for an 'official' confirmation. May 26, 2010 at 22:56
  • 1
    yes, if they think they are adding any value by adding a 520th answer. Perhaps threads should auto-lock after they hit 100 answers.
    – Ether
    May 27, 2010 at 0:38
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    @Ether, that just makes me want to ask for the top 101 of something....
    – Pops
    May 27, 2010 at 0:53

It's not okay to post exact duplicate answers. Usually the voting will weed out the duplicates, but not always (i.e., all content equal, vote for the post that was posted first). In general, if you're not adding to the existing value in a question, then you shouldn't be posting an answer -- this means differentiating your post from the others somehow. For example, you can duplicate an idea from another answer, but add your own unique analysis that helps the question asker.

Exact duplicate answers are difficult to curtail unless a mod does housecleaning, or users are diligent with searching for existing content (which is a difficult task in a question with a lot of answers) before posting.

Recently, a new search option was added, inquestion, where you can search within a question (see the full syntax on the advanced search reference page). This feature is certainly not as old as the book question, nor do all users know about it, but it was added to try to cut down on duplicate answers in questions such as that one. Spread the word!

  • It's good to know search is there but those posts are still useless and flooding thread May 26, 2010 at 23:10
  • @Narsil: If you're concerned about them, flag each of the duplicates for moderator attention (specifying, of course, the post in which the idea was mentioned previously).
    – Jon Seigel
    May 26, 2010 at 23:21
  • Am I using inquestion incorrectly or is it broken? stackoverflow.com/search?q=inquestion:1711+mythical+man+month
    – Gnome
    May 26, 2010 at 23:25
  • @Jon Seigel. I flagged them @The Cat if you are in question page try: inquestion:this thingToLookFor or from homepage inquestion:1711 concepts May 26, 2010 at 23:30
  • @The Cat: stackoverflow.com/search?q=inquestion%3A1711+mythical+man+month -- wtf, I got it to work, now I'm getting "something bad happened." I'm gonna go with 'it's broken.' Try escaping the colon with %3A.
    – Jon Seigel
    May 26, 2010 at 23:35
  • @Jon: That's the same link I gave... it gives no results clicking from meta, and appears very sensitive to referrer (try copy-pasting the url, you get a server error with no referrer).
    – Gnome
    May 26, 2010 at 23:38
  • @The Cat: Wow, it's bonkers. If I retype 'inquestion:1711 mythical man month' into the search box and hit enter it works, but if I then try to navigate to the same search results page, I get "something bad happened."
    – Jon Seigel
    May 26, 2010 at 23:39
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    @Jon: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/51353/…
    – Gnome
    May 26, 2010 at 23:53
  • So then if someone posts a lesser answer after an identical, but more complete answer, should the subsequent (and ostensibly inferior) answer be flagged?
    – Synetech
    Aug 15, 2011 at 1:18
  • @Synetech: I don't see why not. To make it easier on the mod who responds to the flag, always provide a link to the superior answer. The question may also be a candidate for protection under the right circumstances.
    – Jon Seigel
    Aug 15, 2011 at 3:58
  • @Jon, I ask because today I answered a question as well as I could (thus the up-votes), and then six hours later, someone else posted a short answer that was a small subset of mine. I don’t mean to sound petty, but it seems pointless.
    – Synetech
    Aug 15, 2011 at 4:01
  • @Synetech: While technically it does contain some of the same information as your more complete answer, I don't think there's any doubt that it answers the question in a more concise, consumable way (I assume you're talking about this answer). Maybe next time you give a long answer, provide a short summary at the very top, and then go into the detail/why part of it after that.
    – Jon Seigel
    Aug 15, 2011 at 4:32
  • Alright. I just thought helping them to actually solve their problem was important.
    – Synetech
    Aug 15, 2011 at 4:58

Probably enough people flagged the top book question from this thread for merging until some moderator actually did merge it.

Since, obviously, most top voted answers on the old question were the same books that are the top voted answers on every books question, the result is a mess with lots of duplicate answers.

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    Maybe some questions are just better left deleted instead of merged.
    – Gnome
    May 27, 2010 at 0:16

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