When answering questions that are except duplicates of other questions i feel the site only gets more cluttered, especially when the answer also is a copy of an old answer.

The last time the subject was brought up (in 2009*) there seemed to be a consensus that rep. gained from answering a question that is then getting marked as a duplicate should remove rep gained from that since you are not adding any value to the site.

*Should you gain rep for asking a duplicate question

I'd like to know if that has changed over the last years and if there is a need to do that. From my personal experience with SO i have found that answering trivial questions that have been asked a thousand is "rewarded" with lots of rep while searching for duplicates is not.

Since i feel "getting rep" is what is used to guide users into the direction of what is "the right way to go about asking and answering questions on SO" maybe that should get changed?

On the other hand maybe we should stop worrying-and love duplication and let that rest?

While i'd rather like Joels POV (i hope i don't misquote there):

Don’t answer questions that have already been answered elsewhere. Yeah, you might earn a couple of points of reputation, but, because you are duplicating content, you are actually making the Internet worse. [...]

luckily what i think doesn't matter that much but instead there is meta. So let me know

For a proposal there is not much more to say than aggregating the old thread:

On closing a question as duplicate:

  • Question asker loses all rep gains or losses
  • Answers lose all rep gains or losses

On reopening a question that was previously closed as duplicate

  • Question asker has the rep reapplied
  • Answers have rep reapplied.

The people that provided the duplicates show be rewarded when the question is closed as a dup.

There should be an initial recalc when this feature gets accepted and implemented

Another way could be not to remove the rep gained from dup. question but lower it to show that, while answering is valuable, it's not as useful for dups.


3 Answers 3


In some cases it's not obvious that the question is a duplicate so people will answer in good faith. Why penalise them for this?

If the question is closed quickly the number of answers that it will get and the votes that those answers will accrue are quite small so I think this might be a lot of effort for very little gain.

However, if you have enough rep you can see that a question has close votes so there is really no excuse for posting an answer on a question that is in the process of being closed. What might be possible is that if there are 2 or 3 votes to close as a duplicate then you get a warning when you hit the "Post your answer" button. Something along the lines of:

This question has already received votes to close as a duplicate. Are you sure you want to post an answer?

but much better worded.

  • 2
    But thats pretty much what made me post on meta. The fact that i've seen high rep users rather copy/paste an answer than closevote because their either don't care or just take the 4-5 upvotes those questions usually get before beeing closed. Might differ on other tags, that's why i asked :)
    – edorian
    Mar 10, 2011 at 13:11
  • They shouldn't be penalized, but neither should they be rewarded for contributing to flotsam rather than helping to clean it up. Your idea for a warning is excellent.
    – jscs
    Apr 9, 2011 at 5:44

Having had, and seen, questions closed unfairly (different search terms), I'm not comfortable with this.

Then again, I've seen near carbon copies when it was obvious that the poster didn't even attempt a search.

Maybe a compromise?

When voting to close a question as a duplicate, Provide a checkbox that the voter can mark -- indicating that the question is a blatant duplicate. That is: that an answer would have appeared if searching for the question's terms. Or perhaps the answer or question even appears in the "Related" section.

If, say, 4 of the 5 voters check this box, then the rep of at least the question-asker does not count.

I don't know if such a method would apply fairly to answerers -- maybe leave them be?


With the sheer number of questions on the site, it's actually quite hard to come up with a question where something similar hasn't been asked before.

If it's a really obvious duplicate, it'll get closed pretty quickly anyway; even if you did have time to post an answer, it wouldn't have much time to gain many votes.

If it's not an obvious dup, then it may take longer, and answers may have more time. But if its not obvious, then why penalise the answers?

In many cases, questions get flagged as a duplicate when in fact the previous question either wasn't the same, or didn't get a suitable answer. In that case, it's not really fair for it to be flagged, or for the answers to be penalised.

Finally, sometimes even when it is a dup and the existing question already has good answers, a new answer will be given in the new question which provides significant extra help or information over and above the answers on the existing question. Why should that be penalised?

The trouble is that there's no automated way to prove that any of these cases has occurred, so any automation that is done in respect of penalising answers in this way would hit plenty of legitimate answers.

  • 1
    My point is that people don't close vote really obvious duplicate but just copy/paste an answer and get their 5-10 updates and i was trying talk about if that is a problem at all and if there is a way to 'fix' that if wanted
    – edorian
    Mar 10, 2011 at 13:07
  • @edorian - enough people do vote to close the really obvious ones that it usually happens fairly quickly.
    – Spudley
    Mar 10, 2011 at 15:37
  • Then our experiences differ, fair enough :)
    – edorian
    Mar 10, 2011 at 18:19
  • Here's just one example that I've seen over the last few weeks: stackoverflow.com/questions/5602968/why-should-i-use-properties The asker got four up and one down (from me) votes, and the accepted answer got three up votes and the check mark before a mod got around to closing the question. There's no reason for this. A certain amount of duplication is good, to help searches, but answers to questions that are repeated at least once a week shouldn't be rewarded.
    – jscs
    Apr 9, 2011 at 5:48

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