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Should you gain rep for asking a duplicate question?

I think this is a pretty obvious suggestion but I haven't found it; if it's indeed a duplicate close it.

I think it would be nice if all the votes cast on a question which is closed as a duplicate wouldn't give reputation.


2 Answers 2


Duplicate questions tend to fall into two categories:

1) You should have searched

2) There's no way you would have found that

In the first case, these questions should be deleted. Reputation will be reset when next recalculated, solving your problem.

In the second case, I see nothing wrong with rewarding someone for asking a good duplicate — a question that makes it easier for people to find answers. These duplicates actually make the site better.

  • 3
    If #1 didn't come up in the Related Questions then it shouldn't be deleted, it should be closed, and kept for searches in the future. Commented Oct 26, 2010 at 22:30

Just because the question is a duplicate shouldn't mean that people who answered the second question shouldn't get rewarded for answering.

Edit: Oh hey maybe I should read your post more closely. You said question, not answer. In that case, I can't really disagree with you. Should they also gain back reputation from downvotes to their question?

  • Actually, I can address at least one case even on answers. I've gotten a few votes each for writing a half-assed answer to the same question several times. Because sometimes it is faster to answer then find the duplicate. (And I know that that are other high rep users who do this regularly.) But writing several mediocre answers is a lesser contribution to the site then writing one really good one, so we want to encourage the later behavior not the former. Commented Oct 26, 2010 at 20:55
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    This is somewhat of a good point. I propose a wrinkle to this; if the answerer had less than 3k rep before answering, they get to keep what they earned. More than 3k, they lose it. At 3k the system expects them to know better and to close duplicate questions instead of answering them.
    – Aarobot
    Commented Oct 26, 2010 at 21:05
  • @Aarobot, there's nothing wrong with answering duplicate questions, if a mod thinks they're really duplicated he can merge. Commented Oct 26, 2010 at 22:31
  • @Lance: I disagree. This is way too much to ask or expect from the diamond mods on a site the size of Stack Overflow. Moderators are "exception handlers", and duplicated questions are the norm. Privileged users should take some responsibility for helping to maintain the site instead of trying to score easy points.
    – Aarobot
    Commented Oct 27, 2010 at 0:03
  • @Aarobot, It doesn't hurt the site to have more answers. The servers can handle the load, and it's one more data point for Google to trigger off of. Commented Oct 27, 2010 at 0:08
  • @Lance: It does hurt the site when content is fragmented. It makes content harder to find, both by users and by search engines. And it hurts the community even more when privileged users not only tacitly accept but actively encourage it by answering them instead of closing them, leading to bored and disillusioned regular contributors. You point to merging, but that is supposed to be reserved for exceptional cases, and in order for a diamond mod to even consider merging it, it generally has to be closed as a duplicate in the first place. There's no excuse for rep farming.
    – Aarobot
    Commented Oct 27, 2010 at 0:53
  • @Aarobot, the excuse is that the most important thing on Stack Overflow is to give the users good and quick answers (in that order). Only the experienced users usually know how to chase their answer to the duplicate, the new users will go away ticked off, where a timely answer would have kept them coming back. Commented Oct 27, 2010 at 5:01
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    @Lance: That's total bull honkey. If somebody gets "ticked off" at their exact duplicate question being closed as an exact duplicate because they were too lazy to search, then we don't want them sticking around to ask more questions. As somebody who answers these questions you are merely an enabler of this bad behaviour. Getting good and quick answers is extremely important but only if the question is acceptable in the first place; mass duplication is one the most oft-cited reasons for the erosion of online communities. 1000 happy nubs are not worth 100 disgruntled contributors.
    – Aarobot
    Commented Oct 27, 2010 at 13:25
  • (P.S. @Lance, That "you are" probably should have said "one is" - it wasn't intended as an accusation against you personally, just a general statement.)
    – Aarobot
    Commented Oct 27, 2010 at 14:33
  • @Aarobot, I think you need to have more empathy for newbies. Remember that SO is a new paradigm and there is a learning curve. One thing that would definitely help with this issue though is a better search engine. Commented Oct 27, 2010 at 15:16
  • @Lance: Come on. Half the time the duplicate question is the very first link in the sidebar and in the possible duplicates list on the "Ask Question" page. On a lot of the SE betas and newly-launched sites, I agree, we need to treat newbies with great care. But sites like Stack Overflow do not need empathy, they need moderation (and I'm not talking about the diamond variety). Are you doing your part to prevent the mass exodus of great contributors fed up with all of the duplication and lousy questions? No? Then you can start by closing duplicates instead of answering them.
    – Aarobot
    Commented Oct 27, 2010 at 15:22
  • @Aarobot, I answer sometimes, and vote-to-close most of the time. I always do my part when I can, for the OP and for the site. Commented Oct 27, 2010 at 15:39
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    @Lance: OK, then I see no reason to be concerned about a request like this. Closing as a duplicate effectively does answer their question, so that's the behaviour we should be rewarding with reputation (if we are going to reward anything at all) - not the fragmentation of content and encouragement of duplicates by direct answering.
    – Aarobot
    Commented Oct 27, 2010 at 16:19

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