I've only been a member of SO for about 6 months and even in that time I have noticed a dramatic uptick in the number of questions asked each day, and a decline in quality of questions in terms of structure, composition, and repetition.

I'm not going to say something like "Stack Overflow sold out, I was listening to them when they were playing in bars" or something like that, that's not my point - but I think that its usefulness is starting to decline because the amount of chaff is increasing rapidly.

An increasingly high percentage of questions are duplicates. Has any consideration been given to creating a more hierarchical organization that higher-repped users could use to classify a question as subordinate to another existing question?

The point would be to reduce the number of top-level questions to make finding answers easier. As more and more similar questions get asked, it becomes harder and harder to find the "right" (or at least "good") answer to such a question from the archives. Which, in turn, results in a question getting asked, again, when it didn't need to. It's a vicious cycle!

Ideally, such a structure would also make it easier to quickly remove duplicates from the "input queue" instead of having them hang around for a long time (or forever), making those who enjoy answering questions be able to spend less time sifting through the chaff.


  • Interesting. In theory, with a big enough binary tree, we could play 20 questions and resolve the majority of simple problems without getting a duplicate. Resolving this problem for the easy/simple questions makes sense, and technically this solution might yield some improvements in that area, but the user interface would be difficult. I've never been a fan of the "resolve your problem" support sites that have you go through the 20 questions process in order to fix it. Having the users categorize everything sounds scalable, but questions don't get many views, so I'm not sure it would work. – Pollyanna Apr 22 '11 at 13:38
  • I haven't thought through the implementation in detail, but I think with any kind of crowd sourced thing, simple is better. One possible solution would be to allow people to vote to classify a question as "dupicate of ... " a specific question. If x (5?) people do, then it no longer appears in the input queue, but becomes part of a subgroup every question potentially has called "similar questions." It can still get its own answers, but it just won't appear in the main index, and will be depriortized in searches (kind of like google's "similar results.") – jamietre Apr 22 '11 at 13:41
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    As a long time user (+2 years) and eager early day regular, I couldn't agree more with this. I've just spent some Easter downtime answering a bunch of questions over a few days and there's a few trends I see: 1) Lots of single or double-digit rep question askers. 2) Lots of incomplete or very, very novice questions. 3) Lots of redundancy with existing questions. 4) Very little moderating. I don't have answers to propose (at least not off the top of my head), but I think jamietre really nails the issues. It's a shame to see SO in this state. – Troy Hunt Apr 26 '11 at 9:32
  • Agree with the OP and commentators. Something more needs to be done to ensure people search for duplicates both before asking and answering. Voting to close for duplication reasons should carry more incentive. Answering a question that is obviously duplicated rather than voting to close should carry a penalty maybe. – redsquare Apr 26 '11 at 9:40
  • It's an interesting idea, but a little light on detail. How might something like this be implemented? – user102937 Aug 10 '12 at 20:40
  • I'm not a UX guy.. :) seriously, I'm not entirely sure, that's what I was hoping to get into when I posed this some time ago. But when you call something out as a dup, you've presumably arleady found a question that it duplicates. Add a control to easily associate it. Have the other question's title appear directly below this one (or maybe even above it!) once several users agree to associate it. Prevent adding new answers to such flagged questions. – jamietre Aug 10 '12 at 20:46