I know we have already asked about this problem twice, but English.SE has now had its third question about the difference between that and which (first, second). The “Ask Question” page is supposed to pop up a list of related questions, but because that and which are both “stop words”, When you start a question on this topic using any of the most obvious obvious ways to phrase the question—for example, “When to use ‘that’ and when to use ‘which’”, “How do I know when I should write ‘that’ or ‘which’”, “‘That’ or ‘Which’: that is the question”—nothing pops up in the Related Questions box.

Are we doomed to forever being unable to warn users that their question has already been asked if it happens to be a question about stop words, which are asked about all the time on English.SE?

  • 2
    Interesting; I thought most modern fulltext engines didn't even use stopwords anymore for this very reason (they're often an important part of the context). I'm sure they should be able to edit the stop list for a specific site...
    – Aarobot
    Commented Oct 8, 2010 at 15:18
  • 3
    I wouldn't call three questions in 63 days a deluge, but you make a good point. This reminds me of how difficult it is to search for special characters in Google.
    – Pops
    Commented Oct 8, 2010 at 15:22
  • 1
    Familiar problem. Oh no, not yet another question about the ++ operator! Thousands of them. Commented Oct 8, 2010 at 15:46
  • 1
    @Hans And the infamous --> operator.
    – HoLyVieR
    Commented Oct 8, 2010 at 16:17
  • 4
    Would be funny if now this question gets asked on meta several times because of the same problem. Commented Dec 14, 2010 at 12:38

2 Answers 2


There are very similar issues on SO proper.

My suggestion would be to create one high-quality reference question, and close all incoming questions as a duplicate of that.

  • 1
    i don't think this fixes the problem. As i understand the OP, this good answer can't be searched for.
    – user152476
    Commented Jan 13, 2011 at 14:25
  • @user that's why I said "... and close all incoming questions as a duplicate of that." It will probably be impossible to fix search to cover these cases
    – Pekka
    Commented Jan 13, 2011 at 14:26

Put it in the FAQ.

  • 4
    No new users read the FAQ. It's only read by users who like the website and have been using it for a while, but those users most likely already know that their question has already been asked. Seriously, when you want a problem solved and you ask about said problem on a website you've never been to, do you stop and read the FAQ first? Commented Dec 14, 2010 at 12:37
  • 3
    Actually, I do. It doesn't always sink in the first time, but I do try to avoid looking like an idiot (with varying degrees of success). Seriously though, knowing there will always be those who avoid our best efforts to educate, all we can do is try in every practical way, yes?
    – sje397
    Commented Dec 14, 2010 at 12:53

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .