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My question title is a bit vague but this is a discussion question so I feel it sums up the idea of my question the best.

I so far am active on this site and on Sci-fi/Fantasy stack exchange. I prefer the dynamic on this site and the openness of the community which I hope isn't just because it's in Beta. I'd like to address an issue that I keep running into on Sci-fi/ Fantasy because I feel it's an issue that could affect this site as well. There is a trend of sorts of marking questions as possible duplicates when they are similar to other posted questions or answers that match similar content. Now I know that what I just wrote sounds like a basic statement of how to mark a duplicate question but there is more that needs to be taken into account. One or two high reputation users will mark as duplicate and it seems like users simply agree rather than think on it or listen to reasons why it's not a duplicate. Also this starts to become an issue when a topic starts to become saturated to a point that almost any question borders on possibly being a duplicate to a previous question or answer. (How there is possibly any Harry Potter questions left that can be asked I don't know)

I have not come across this problem on this site yet but in the future it seems to be a possibility. I see it as a possibility simply because both sites are trivia sites in my opinion and therefore can be open to opinions as answers which can then be accepted. Even non-accepted answers can cause duplication though. Now it is always up to the asker to insure they are not duplicating but when the questions on the subject become too numerous it is not only hard to look through for duplication but sometimes even addressing a question similar causes duplication to be flagged.

So I want to open this for discussion because I think setting a standard way of handling possible duplicates especially before the site graduates can help a lot.

  • Well, I for myself am rather careful with duplicates and tend to close only when the question really is an exact duplicate. But I also see, that the general SE policy is rather to compare answers to other questions and not just the questions (though, I admittedly don't like this policy). That being said, while I understand the discussiony purpose of this question, I still am absolutely unsure what it is you actually want hear and discuss here. – Napoleon Wilson Jul 24 '14 at 1:33
  • @NapoleonWilson basically I want it discussed before it becomes a problem on this site. A pre-planning of how to handle them because it's discouraging to users to have their questions closed. I think a frank discussion could shed some light on how to handle the situation specifically for this site. – Kevin Howell Jul 24 '14 at 13:41
  • "basically I want it discussed before it becomes a problem on this site." - I see, but what do you want discussed? How to approach duplicates in general? To this the answer would at the moment really just be "well, in a proper and reasonable way, like on every other SE site, too". – Napoleon Wilson Jul 24 '14 at 14:00
  • @NapoleonWilson Sir I feel I've stated why I feel it needs to be discussed. I want an open discussion and did not intend to lead it in any direction by stating anything more than "I see this as a potential issue. Does anyone else? What can be done about it?" If you feel the same as Andrew Martin then please upvote his answer. If you feel different please provide an answer. If you feel there is nothing to discuss answer with that or ignore the question. It's a discussion there is no wrong approach. – Kevin Howell Jul 24 '14 at 14:58
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At the moment I cannot see any problem with closing questions as duplicates. We had some duplicate questions in the past that were perfect duplicates and were closed as such. We had questions that could be seen as such or as only related questions, which resulted in the community actively and constructively debating about their duplicate status and reaching a consensus thereon. And we had duplicate voted questions in which the voters have retracted their vote after a more thorough discussion with other users and further investigation of the matter. The system seems to work perfectly as it currently is and I cannot see any potential problem with it at the moment and none in the future either if it keeps working the same way. It is also hard to say what the actual reasons for users to vote for duplicates really are, so in the first place I wouldn't impute any irresponsible or unattentive behaviour on the users, especially since most of the duplicate-votes I've seen seemed valid to me.

But at the moment I see the only way to approach the problem of duplicate questions is like anything else: Apply the rules as best as possible, vote as responsible as possible, and discuss any problems or disagreements you see. And, judging with my experience so far on this site (and other sites), this way everything will naturally pan out itself in a proper way, now and in the future. I'm not sure what else is to say about it until this hypothetical problem (of whose actual nature I'm not yet sure at all) substantiates itself a bit more some day.


That being said, I for myself am a bit more careful with voting as duplicate and only really consider exact duplicates. The general StackExchange policy on the other hand seems to be that one should consider the answers to other questions and the information therein when determining duplicates and not the questions themselves, which I for myself don't think is a particuarly good idea. But so far I haven't seen those views collide severely on this site or any other site I know (though, I'm not active on Science Fiction & Fantasy). But if you share the same rather conservative view on duplicates this might explain your problem with sites that enforce a more general SE policy. But I feel the first adress for your concerns about the supposedly inappropriate duplicate-voting policy of another site might be that site's meta and through the respective discussions there you might also gain more insights into how to approach this possible problem on other sites where it hasn't manifested itself yet at all.

  • And I'll gracefully look over the term "trivia sites" as a description of this site. ;-) – Napoleon Wilson Jul 24 '14 at 15:47
  • I agree with you. I do beleive the problem I have ran into as well as others is with the general policy of accepting the answers for the question as the reasoning for duplicate. I have brought that specific issue up in meta on the site where the problem was but I do feel it's a future concern for this site as well and setting a course of action now through discussion will hopefully disrupt that potential problem. Sometimes it's only through open dialogue that the issues refine themselves. – Kevin Howell Jul 24 '14 at 15:59
  • @NapoleonWilson: can you please take a look at this duplicate? I understand it's a dupe, but I wonder if it should be undeleted and kept closed, per the Meta.SE guideline (deletion is for bad questions) and Jeff Atwood's intent. – Dan Dascalescu Jul 19 '15 at 9:24
  • @DanDascalescu The problem is, that it is a "bad" question. It is not so much a proper question that just happened to have been asked again, but a recommendation question, which are completely off-topic. In fact it should rather have been closed as off-topic (and closed questions with negative votes are automatically deleted because they're "bad") and not as a duplicate, as adressed in this related discussion. – Napoleon Wilson Jul 19 '15 at 11:37
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I don't think this is as big an issue as you might think.

Currently, if a question is a duplicate it is flagged as such. Once it reaches the required votes it is put on hold. At that point, it can either be edited or it can be reopened by other users. Both of these have happened with questions in recent weeks.

I honestly feel that with the fairly vocal users of our site (e.g. people like @Napoleon Wilson) this doesn't really become an issue, as any early closures are handled quickly. We don't have that many new questions a day, or experienced users of the site, so these are currently perfectly maintainable.

In the long run, I think the current method is still the best way. Look at previous questions and flag them as duplicate if it seems they are. The OP can then either edit their question, post comments under their question or highlight it on meta if they believe it has been put on hold unfairly.

  • Currently it's not a problem on this site. The current method of handling does work. However once the site is out of Beta there will be a lot more users and duplicates can get flagged easier and people will agree with high rep users rather than go against. To my knowledge there isn't anything that indicates how many voted to leave open and people will tend to vote with a majority. – Kevin Howell Jul 24 '14 at 13:51
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    @KevinHowell: But if they feel differently, they can either vote to reopen (if it is closed), raise the issue on meta or in chat or restructure their question. I don't see the Stack Exchange changing this, as it works fairly well and is standard across all sites, as opposed to just Movies & TV. – Andrew Martin Jul 24 '14 at 13:52
  • I understand that it's standard on all sites. I honestly don't know if it creates a problem on other sites. I honestly don't know if I'm somehow the one percent and am the only one having a problem with this. That's why I opened it for discussion. You say it works perfectly fine if no one else voice dissent other than me you are right. If someone else does agree that it's something that's a problem for them then maybe the community can discuss and come up with alternative solutions if the current method is not effective enough. – Kevin Howell Jul 24 '14 at 14:52

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