This question is not a personal complaint towards anyone. That's the reason I'd rather not give examples and I don't think I need to. The question is a call to be a bit more aware of what we are doing here in general, and to prevent that we create a jungle of repeated information; a call to watch over the quality of acting.

The "question"

It happens to the best of us; posting an answer on a question that is a perfect duplicate of an older question. I see that as more or less unavoidable; many times questions have an unclear title, are asked much more specific then needed, and (possible) solutions fit a much wider range then the asker even understands.

(Too) many times however, obviously exact and undeniable duplicates are answered nevertheless (again), not by "greenies", but by pretty much experienced users, who should know they are duplicates. Often even after the question has been marked as a duplicate. It feels faint to repeatedly see answers appear, a considerable time after you marked a question as a (obviously perfect) duplicate.

While original questions often already have a quality answer, well elaborated and still perfectly applicable, a reformatted copy of the accepted (original) answer is posted nevertheless.

Again, I am not judging anyone, but I really think we should not be so eager that we post (again) answers that we know have been given in the past. Many times even after the post has been marked as a dupe, accompanied by a link that offers the best answers on the site.

  • 12
    The problem is that it is not always easy to find a good answer. Yes, I do post answers, when I know that a better or a similar answer exists somewhere. But in most cases I do that when I can't find that good answer. If you can find it, just mark it as a duplicate. I see no serious harm in posting this kind of duplicate answers. It gives more chance to be found and gives a fast solution to OP.
    – Pilot6
    Commented Aug 15, 2015 at 20:28
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    @Pilot6 If a q/a is so hard to find, either the title of the original is unclear, the tags are incorrect or another reason makes it hard to find. I would consider that categorie "unavoidable". This is therefore not a plea for an endless search before posting an answer. A different situation is when a question was recently asked, is easy to find and/or a (duplicate) answer was posted after the question was marked as a dupe. IMO experience then brings the responsibility to let the quality of acting prevail over the eagerness to "jump in and score", increasing the amount of duplicated info. Commented Aug 15, 2015 at 20:48
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    I never post answers when I see that the question is marked as a dupe and the link is really good. Can you give an example? Maybe I think about other cases than you do.
    – Pilot6
    Commented Aug 15, 2015 at 20:51
  • @Pilot6 I really rather wouldn't. That would make it personal instantly. What I have in mind are mostly the situations when questions are marked, when I am pretty sure the answers are mostly based on the answer(s) the answerer found on AU, or when I am pretty sure the answerer knows the original is (very) easy to find. Commented Aug 15, 2015 at 20:57
  • If it is my answer, I do not mind to make it personal. In some cases it is easier to answer than to search. And I can't recall a case when I copied someone else's answer. I do copy mine a lot, because I do not remember how the question was named and a fast search does not give a result.
    – Pilot6
    Commented Aug 15, 2015 at 21:03
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    @Pilot6 Too bad, none of your answers were the occasion for my question :) Commented Aug 15, 2015 at 21:06
  • But if someone finds a better answer than I give, it will be helpful to mark a question as a duplicate. This is the whole point of helping each other.
    – Pilot6
    Commented Aug 15, 2015 at 21:07
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    @Pilot6 btw, there is an easy way to find dupes of your own: in the search box, type: <keyword> user:me is:a. All your posts with the keyword will pop up instantly. Another quick way is that of many of my posts I more or less remember the votes. Commented Aug 15, 2015 at 21:12
  • Oh, I did not know that!! That is what I've been looking for.
    – Pilot6
    Commented Aug 15, 2015 at 21:14
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    The flip side of the coin is marking as duplicated something that objetively isn't.
    – Braiam
    Commented Aug 15, 2015 at 21:19
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    @Braiam I realize at the same time, marking as duplicate is a delicate thing, and IMO (probably) the most misused and misunderstood close reason of all. Commented Aug 15, 2015 at 21:22
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    Hear, hear
    – Braiam
    Commented Aug 15, 2015 at 21:45
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    A lot of times a question is marked duplicate and the duplicate solves the "wider" question and obviously that specific question, but as far as networking the site goes and helping get answers to specific questions, does it hurt to both mark as duplicate, link to the proper question usually with lots of long complicated answers and then just a simple answer to the question with out a lot of the details in the linked post Commented Aug 18, 2015 at 7:45
  • There are also times where version/release-specific nuances arise, and the new "duplicate" answer is more relevant, but this is not immediately obvious.
    – Cloud
    Commented Aug 22, 2015 at 20:55
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    @Dogbert as I said before "questions are supposed to be timeless", ie. if the same thing is done differently on different versions, a single question covering them all is recommended.
    – Braiam
    Commented Aug 23, 2015 at 13:11

1 Answer 1


The other side of it is I think folks are sometimes a bit too quick to refer to a previous question / answer, when actually it no longer applies. I give for example "Clock time is off on dual boot". The most voted answer is referred to several times throughout this forum, but it apparently is no longer current. (that answer being:

To tell your Ubuntu system that the hardware clock is set to 'local' time:

edit /etc/default/rcS

add or change the following section

# Set UTC=yes if your hardware clock is set to UTC (GMT)

) This answer appears to be no longer current. So looking at a question and assuming that it is duplicate isn't always right either.

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    The thing you seem to be missing here is that they are "possible" duplicates. That word is important, you are under no obligation to accept a duplicate as fact, however you are obliged to explain why it is not a duplicate or it may still get closed. It does not matter if your post gets flagged as a dupe, 5 3k users must agree and they are simple to contest or overturn. IMO we should most defiantly be quick to flag a dupe but also willing to revise that vote if new evidence comes to light.
    – Mark Kirby
    Commented Sep 12, 2016 at 19:33
  • all right all right. I wasn't sure what you meant by "5 3k users"?
    – Thomas Yun
    Commented Sep 12, 2016 at 22:59
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    Five Ask Ubuntu users with 3000 reputation must all agree it is a duplicate before a question is closed, even then it can still be re opened.
    – Mark Kirby
    Commented Sep 12, 2016 at 23:33
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    That question does have multiple answers.
    – muru
    Commented Sep 13, 2016 at 13:41

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