When closing a question as a duplicate, the goal obviously is to find not just some identical question, but the one that has the best answer.

The search process doesn't support that goal perfectly yet. It allows you to find highest-voted questions which is nice, but when looking for a good dupe, you want to find the one with the highest-voted answers instead.

How about adding a "by highest voted answer" sort order?

enter image description here

In addition to that, it might be useful to know which questions in the list have been used as originals to duplicates in the past, and how often.

The layout in the new "answers" view (and only there!) could look like this: enter image description here

If showing both votes is impossible due to layout reasons, then just show the answer score.

At the moment, I have the impression it has become customary to upvote the question as a sign for future closers that it contains a really great answer - at least that's what I do, lacking better ways. A lot of essentially mediocre, but highly voted questions support that assertion. That is not a good practice in the long run - targeting the good answers would be much better.

  • 10
    +1 and a Nice Question badge for using the pencil tool. As to your last paragraph, I can testify that besides the visits from Hacker News, this question of mine and its answers get a few upvotes every time something gets closed as a dupe of it, and there have been many duplicates. Commented Jan 31, 2011 at 11:01
  • 1
    +1 Nice idea, I'd say. Commented Mar 8, 2011 at 22:20
  • 1
    If my DupLinkCount were a column alongside newest/faq/votes/active/unanswered, you'd just sort by it to see the "real, question-generated FAQ". Assiduous users would more easily find originals to link to when voting to close, and probably be motivated to make sure the originals were solid. Commented Aug 26, 2011 at 0:05

2 Answers 2


Excellent idea!

I think this could be very useful as at the minute, we just get "closed as duplicate of XXXXX" where XXXXX may NOT be the best match for the question asked and may also not be the best answer of a series of duplicate questions.

For example if we have 3 questions both "What use Divs over Tables" one question may be very thoroughly answered, another may just reference the last question's answer and the last may just have a very simplistic answer, when you search for a duplicate question you may not necessarily get the first answer and as such the person asking the duplicate may not have their query resolved, thus a sort by highest answer score would be very useful indeed.

I like the idea of "used as original for X duplicate questions" as this will then indicate to duplicate finders at a glance how the answer squares up against others.

The highest voted answer may be better being displayed in green rather than grey, just to differentiate it from the questions score, apart from that great idea!


We are trying to improve the tools for closing as duplicate, but we are looking at doing this within the current UI, rather than making changes to the main questions list, etc.

  1. For any questions shown on that UI, indicate how many times (i.e. from how many posts) each has been been voted as the existing duplicate - essentially "is this the canonical dup"

  2. We now automatically look at the "related" list (which is based on lucene's analysis of the content) to make a few suggestions for likely-looking duplicates. To be included in the suggestions, it must previously have been voted as the existing duplicate a couple of times.

  3. In addition to the related/linked posts, we now look at the most frequently linked questions with overlapping tags. This is currently biasing the most general tag unduly though (update; this is now fixed)

  4. Display the net scores of each of the posts cited, so you can see at a glance which are established.

Current version as of this writing is visible by selecting close, close as duplicate like so:

enter image description here

I'm open to more suggestions!

  • These steps sound very good, let's see how they play out in practice. I think the items shown in the second step need some special highlighting so people see them - it sounds like they could very often be the right thing.
    – Pekka
    Commented Sep 2, 2011 at 9:12
  • Excellent; please also extend the dialog to list posts that were flagged as "exact duplicates" -- from stackoverflow.com/tools/flagged there was a questioned labeled "exact duplicate" that was perfect -- but not one of the provided questions.
    – sarnold
    Commented Sep 14, 2011 at 22:25
  • @sarnold good idea - will investigate Commented Sep 14, 2011 at 22:27
  • @MarcGravell I think there are two related problems here. 1) The question with the highest vote may not be the best match to the possible duplicate and this requires a lot of investigating by the reviewer if they are to find the right one, if it exists at all. So, if possible, we need a better search method. 2) The message that appears on a question saying "This is a duplicate and if you don't think so ..." is frustrating, particularly for the newbie, as it does not often link to the answer they want, just "it's out there ... somewhere" Commented Sep 26, 2019 at 8:50

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