Questions which are closed as either off-topic or not a real question are automatically downvoted by the community user. If a user (either through ignorance or insolence) then re-posts the same question, the re-post will usually be closed with the reason exact duplicate of the earlier OT/NARQ question.

The re-post, like its OT/NARQ original question, should receive an automatic downvote when it is closed.

Bad questions that have no value on Stack Overflow in principle ought to be downvoted. It was already downvoted by the community the first time, the re-post should be downvoted as well.

Couldn't there be ways to detect these sort of questions better? Ideally there should be distinction between re-posted duplicate questions and similar questions but there's not. There are very clear signs here that this is a re-posted duplicate yet nothing is done about it when it can be.

  • It has the same exact title of a previous question from the same user
  • The majority of the content of the question is exactly the same as a previously closed question
  • It came from a user who had a previous question recently closed as NARQ (or OT)
  • The community closed the question as an exact duplicate of the previously closed question.

If the system could not determine if it is an exact re-posted duplicate, then no automatic downvote is necessary and let readers handle that.

Perhaps go a step further and detect re-posted duplicates across different accounts too?

  • Sorry guys, the title wasn't as clear as I thought it was. I'm not saying that the system should automatically close questions for being exact duplicates. I'm saying that a question that gets closed (by the community) should get the automatic downvote if it is a duplicate of a (bad) closed question. May 15 '11 at 0:23
  • Jeff, sorry to misunderstand you earlier. I see now that you're talking about "Questions that are closed as duplicates of anything that would have normally received an automatic downvote"? I'm just thinking, what's the point of closing it as a duplicate in the first place if it has zero value? Should have just been NARQ'd again, am I right?
    – user159834
    May 15 '11 at 1:46
  • @Wesley: Yes pretty much. May 15 '11 at 1:48
  • Jeff, I'm all for this. You might use the term "double-post" in this discussion to make your meaning clearer than plain old "duplicate".
    – jscs
    May 15 '11 at 6:11
  • @Josh: Thanks for the tip. I think those were the words I was looking for. May 15 '11 at 7:06
  • I'd be interested in hearing what people disagree about with this request. Of the answers here so far, only Aleadam's actually understood what the request is about. The others have completely misunderstood what the request . Are you disagreeing with the request that I made? Or did you also misinterpret what is being made here too and think that I'm asking that all closed duplicates be downvoted (or other misinterpretation)? Or if someone who understands the request, care to suggest a better way of presenting this? I don't know how else I can explain this without it being misinterpreted. May 15 '11 at 21:29
  • @Jeff: I've made a suggested edit to try to clarify. I think what you're proposing is pretty straightforward and can be stated quite simply. Please do whatever you wish with my edit, including ignoring it; I left the entire original text of your question intact, and just added my version at the top. I've also proposed a new title that I think is clearer. Hope that this is helpful.
    – jscs
    May 15 '11 at 23:42
  • @Josh: Thanks. That's definitely clearer. I'll integrate that into the post. May 15 '11 at 23:50

EDIT: Now that I do understand your proposal, I'll share my opinion since I missed the point the first time.

I may be way off, but I don't see the point in closing a question as a duplicate of another question if it's one that's not allowed here to begin with. I'm not necessarily against the inherited auto-downvote, but I don't think it really helps anything.

  • Question should have been closed both times for the same reason and flagged/deleted.
  • Inherited downvote == Not a big deal. Confusing or misleading at worst. The free question downvotes should help remedy this anyways.
  • Any attempt at automatic dupe detection will be either buggy or easy to bypass.

Summary: Not worth it.

"Missed the point entirely" version:

I don't think closed duplicates deserve automatic downvotes.

Often, the answer is difficult to find. Sometimes the words the author chose to describe his problem don't match the "duplicate", so he was never was able to find the help he needed through search, or through the auto suggest after he typed the question title.

There is a good side to this however: The next guy that searches for that phrase will land on the closed duplicate, and be able to access the helpful link to the original from there.

Users already get offended when their question is closed for this reason instead of being happy they were forwarded to a helpful source, I think the extra downvote will only make this worse, and they don't always deserve it. A regular downvote will do.

In this stubborn user's case, I think a downvote and flag to delete are appropriate. No amount of extra automatic downvotes are going to keep this guy (especially being a new 1 rep user) from reposting.

  • 1
    In the specific case, the user posted the same question twice; the first time, the question was closed as "not a real question," and the second time as duplicate. The user known he asked the question before.
    – apaderno
    May 14 '11 at 23:58
  • I'm not saying we that all exact duplicates should get automatic downvotes, only that there should be some logic to detect the reposted duplicates so it is in line with how it is for OT and NARQ closed questions. They get the automatic downvotes as these are the kind of questions that should not exist on Stack Overflow. This particular case is also in the same class of undesirables IMHO. Don't get me wrong, legitimate duplicates aren't bad that they need to have an automatic downvote, but this kind does. May 14 '11 at 23:59
  • 1
    @Jeff, So how would the system know the difference?
    – user159834
    May 15 '11 at 0:03
  • @Wesley: Read the question again. I proposed some ways how such questions could be detected. There are probably much more things that can be done available to the team (such as different user with the same openid posting the same exact question). May 15 '11 at 0:05
  • @Jeff, It would have to be word-for-word exact or there would likely be problems. I must admit I misunderstood the question however, I apologize for that. I have not been here for very long, but I don't see this as being a big enough problem. I can only see this working under very limited circumstances, and honestly if the question is an exact word-for-word duplicate, it should never even be allowed to be posted. However, if that was the case, people will just change a word or two and they would bypass the filter. This just seems like the kind of thing that's better monitored by real people.
    – user159834
    May 15 '11 at 0:12
  • 1
    @Jeff: For me, the problem is if a user has a question closed as NARQ, they're unlikely to consider rewording it in order to get it reopened. They're more likely to try rewording it as a new question. Which means the system has to have some way to threshold how similar a post has to be to fall into the automatic duplicate detection, which seems error prone. I could go for the system adding a comment/link to a possibly related question, but automatic downvoting seems harsh... and error prone.
    – forsvarir
    May 15 '11 at 0:13
  • 1
    @forsvarir, @Wesley: I've changed the title of the question as it seems like everyone was misunderstanding my request. I'm not saying that the system should automatically close questions as exact duplicates. I'm saying that questions closed (by the community) as an exact duplicate of a question that was recently closed as OT/NARQ should be considered for the automatic downvote. Humans still have a say at this because they determined that the new question is a duplicate of a bad question. May 15 '11 at 0:31
  • THANK YOU for updating your answer. I hope now that people don't get the wrong idea about this request. May 16 '11 at 0:16

I would flag these questions for moderator attention. If the user continues with this behaviour, then the account may be temporarily (or permanently) blocked.

Most probably, those users do not care about two rep more or less. Like in this case you present, the rep cannot sink below 1, so what's the point of another downvote?

The example from today:

I flagged not one or two, but four questions from the same user. The text of the flag was: "All this four questions are basically the same, from the same user, formulated in a period of 24 hours. Please, merge them!", following by the links to all four questions:

I seriously doubt that this person cares about rep. A downvote in each question would not have achieved anything. Now, with her history in SO, she will be close to a temporary lock. That, is something she will care about.

  • 1
    I don't disagree that we should flag them for moderation, that would be just fine too. The point I'm trying to address is that bad questions that have no value on Stack Overflow ought to be downvoted. When a question is closed for being off-topic or not a real question, it is automatically downvoted by the community user. If a user takes a question that was closed for this very reason and posts it again, it ought to be automatically downvoted as well if closed as an exact duplicate (which it currently does not). May 15 '11 at 2:10
  • @Jeff I understood your point, but I do not see how the downvote will help improving anything. I think that in cases as the one you're pointing out, the questions should be deleted or merged, not downvoted. I will add another example from today to my answer.
    – Aleadam
    May 15 '11 at 2:16
  • There was a great deal of discussion about the effects of downvotes vs. close votes in the "Should Question Votes be Free?" thread. There's apparently an important systemic component to question downvotes: the SO cybermind treats negatively-voted questions differently.
    – jscs
    May 15 '11 at 6:10

I don't think that all the questions closed as duplicate deserve an automatic down-vote, including the questions that are duplicate of questions that have been closed as "not a real question," or "off topic."

Closing a question as duplicate of another question that is off-topic, or not a real question is just a matter of point of views. If the other question is off-topic, then also the duplicating question is off-topic too (differently, it would not be really a duplicate); if you want that the question is automatically down-voted, then you just need to vote to close it as off-topic, instead of as duplicate.
Somebody could also argue that closing a question as duplicate of another question that is already closed as off-topic or not a real question doesn't help who would find the first question. Users would follow the link from the first question, closed as duplicate, and they will reach a question that has been closed because is off-topic, hoping to find an answer that they will probably not find.

I would let the users decide if a duplicate question needs to be down-voted.

  • Hmm, you raise a good point. However the newer question was not closed as a duplicate. In it's current form, I would say that it is a very valid question. May 15 '11 at 0:19
  • In the case I reported, I closed the newer question as duplicate of the older one. I usually close the most recent question, or the one without answers; if the newer question has answers, then I close the older one.
    – apaderno
    May 15 '11 at 0:26
  • I've changed the title of the question as it seems like everyone was misunderstanding my request. I'm not saying that the system should automatically close questions as exact duplicates. I'm saying that questions closed (by the community) as an exact duplicate of a question that was recently closed as OT/NARQ should be considered for the automatic downvote. May 15 '11 at 0:26
  • Would you mind updating your answer to address what the request is really about? I admit my original request could have been clearer and should be now (hopefully). But having answers that are based on a misinterpretation adds to the confusion. May 16 '11 at 0:35
  • @Jeff Mercado Your question contains the following sentence: "The re-post, like its OT/NARQ original question, should receive an automatic downvote when it is closed." I have already answered to that: "I don't think that all the questions closed as duplicate deserve an automatic down vote."
    – apaderno
    May 16 '11 at 0:46
  • @kiamlaluno: The point is that the questions you refer to do not fit the situation here. It is a question that is a duplicate of an improved question that remains open as it is now valid. Here, the duplicate question has made little/no improvement and was subsequently closed by the community as a duplicate of the previous OT/NARQ question. It is not the same. May 16 '11 at 0:59
  • @Jeff Mercado What I reported is still valid; I don't think that who creates a question that is duplicate of another one (even if the other one was already closed as "off-topic" or "not a real question") should be "automatically punished." Sometimes it's not possible to notice if a question was already asked, even if you search for another question using the title you would give to the question you are going to ask. Does the fact the previous question was closed as off-topic change the equation? IMO, it doesn't.
    – apaderno
    May 16 '11 at 1:15
  • @kiamlaluno: You're missing the point. The main concern is that this is not a different person posting a duplicate, it is one person who had one of their questions closed and re-posted it without improving it. The community closed the bad question then and the community closed the re-post. The same actions should be performed here but isn't due to a technicality. Now if I can't convince you that these are different cases or you just don't agree, then so be it, I just hope you understand what the real intent is of this request is and are not basing this on a misunderstanding. May 16 '11 at 1:37
  • @Jeff Mercado My reply is still the same: I don't think that all the questions closed as duplicate deserve an automatic down-vote. Whatever both the questions have been asked from the same user, or the first question was closed as off-topic, I don't see any reason to automatically down-vote a duplicate question.
    – apaderno
    May 16 '11 at 1:47
  • @kimlaluno: Fair enough. Thank you for your time. May 16 '11 at 1:49
  • To notice that you wrote "if a user then re-posts the same question." As I understand it, it doesn't implicate the user is re-posting a question he already asked; I could re-post the question asked from somebody else.
    – apaderno
    May 16 '11 at 1:52

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