Duplicates now have the following message above them: "This question already has an answer here", where previously the message was "Possible duplicate" (see this meta question).

The current message is much stronger in the sense that it indicates 1) it certainly is a duplicate and 2) it certainly has an answer to your question.

I do see the high probability of a question actually being a duplicate if many people indicate it may be so. And even if this is not the case, you can appeal and users are notified about the options (albeit this could be improved).
However, the second claim by the message (there certainly is an answer), is not necessarily true. To clarify I'll refer to my case: I recognise that there's a duplicate, but the answers provided at the 'original question' do not help me. Although the question asked was desktop environment-neutral, one of the answers is not. The other answer is a work-around solution. I imagine quite a portion of the users don't find an exact & directly applicable answer to their problem in the original (non-duplicate) question.

The issue here is that the duplicate message might set wrong expectations. When faced (esp. as a novel user) with a duplicate message, you'll go look at that question, expecting to find a solution to your question (that's what the message says, after all). Possibly you won't. If that's the case, this may lead to frustration. Especially as "most OP's feel bad to ask a duplicated question" (@Sneetsher) the negative feeling about self could turn into negative feeling about this false claim (an answer being available).

To 1) exclude the possibility that the duplication message is false (ie there is no answer to the person's question whilst is says there is) and 2) to lower the risk of user frustration in this process (which for the user most likely already is a negative experience), I'd propose a change from "This question already has an answer here" to "This question might/likely already have/has an answer here"

PS. Of course the message says 'an answer', rather than 'the answer', but I guess most users would read it as 'the answer to your question already is here'.

  • There is no point admitting that we might be wrong from the beginning - that is simply asking for people to challenge it.
    – Tim
    Aug 17, 2015 at 8:34
  • @Tim: I don't propose to admit 'we' might be wrong from the beginning. Saying that there possibly is an answer to your question is different from saying it's falsely marked as a duplicate. So even though there may not be an answer, it may still be correctly marked as a duplicate (as in my case).
    – Koen
    Aug 17, 2015 at 11:01
  • 1
    I agree your question IS A DUPLICATE. The fix for brightness problems is always a "work around" as you call it and the fix is the same - work around and file a bug report. I do not really think this is a unique question for every piece of hardware and certainly the fix is a manual configuration and thus completely independent of hardware. With your proposal with would have thousands of questions, one for each desktop on each set of hardware. If you feel it is not a duplicate , update the question as to why it is not a duplicate and what problem you have.
    – Panther
    Aug 18, 2015 at 18:29

3 Answers 3


I don't think changing the message into a perspective "might be a duplicate, might provide an answer" - like message would make things clearer. Nor would it solve the issues you mention. A question is an exact duplicate or not.

Your example

In your example, the supposed original question was asked in a non-specific way. One answer was KDE- specific, the other one a workaround. The poster seems not to have paid much attention to his own question, since he didn't accept one of the answers, nor did he comment on it that it wasn't useful for him because it was KDE specific.

That technically means we cannot decide if it is a duplicate or not. The question might be a duplicate, might have an overlap, we simply don't know without OP's acceptance of one of the answer, or comment(s) why the existing answers didn't work for him.

In this case, If my question was marked as a dupe, I would have done two things:

  • make my own question more (environment) specific (including tags).
  • comment, explaining that the supposed dupe does not provide an answer, since the only answer is KDE specific, does not match your question, therefore a new (more specific to your situation) question is justified.

I am pretty sure I would have marked your question as a dupe when I would have run into the question in review. I am also pretty sure I would have withdrawn my vote if you would have communicated as I explained.

The bottom line is that similar titles do not mean the questions are similar. If you seriously think your question was marked incorrectly, communicate to the people who review.

  • A) "If you seriously think your question was marked incorrectly, communicate to the people who review." -> if you have read my argument carefully, you'd have seen that I agree with marking my question as a duplicate: "I recognise that there's a duplicate". Indeed, I moved to the other question of which mine was a duplicate, and asked for help there, rather than pretending that my question was unique and not asked before. B) You don't really go into my argument of setting expectations of finding an answer, which was basically the main point of my argument. Curious what you think about that.
    – Koen
    Aug 17, 2015 at 10:54
  • @Koen There is a simple truth: if I ask the (exact) same question twice, and I get a good answer to the first question, it fits the second. If not, at least one of the questions was not specific enough. It's your job to point out the difference. In other words: if a question turns out to be environment specific, either an answer should be given in a generic way (actually multiple answers) or (better), both questions should be made more specific. You might agree the question is a dupe, reality proves they are not. Your proposal is trying to fix the problem at the wrong end. Aug 17, 2015 at 12:41
  • @Koen ...Instead of taking the effort to point out what is exactly the difference between your question and the existing one, and why the answer isn't working for you, you propose to obscure the duplicate system itself. Aug 17, 2015 at 12:49

I don't agree with this; or, more precisely, I don't think that this is relevant, since how confidently one states that a question is a duplicate doesn't obstruct OP's right to prove the opposite at all, which is the most important thing. On the other hand it might induce OP to improve / clarify their question, which is always good.

Possibly you're forgetting that between a close vote (the time at which OP is warned that their question might be a duplicate) and the actual closure there's usually some time in which OP can explain why their question is not a duplicate. We're not cold shooting anyone (mods can, but that spans completely out of this topic). Sometimes there's not, but still, questions are eligible for reopening. Hence we're not even shooting anyone "definitively".

The wording has the purpose of clearly stating what the community thinks about the question, and I think it does a good job at it as it stands right now; weakening the meaning has no purpose aside from leaving more space to potential unconstructive arguments in the comments section, which is one of the reasons why the original message was changed in first place (Changes to "close as duplicate" (part deux)):

(3) in order to reduce the likelihood of getting into an argument about whether this should have been closed.


How about a noob perspective.

This question has a related duplicate question

Implies a possible exact duplicate, does not have ambiguity associated with words like might and allows closely related questions to be consolidated via the links such that a new user like me could peruse and determine if any of them, especially questions with answers, actually work for my case. I can infer from related questions and answers, if any, if my initial question is related to something else I did not ask or if it is unrelated to my specific issue.

If the related question with an answer exists, helps me in some way I can't vote it up or comment on it because I'm a noob and only have 1<50 rep points which helps perpetuate this issue of creating duplicates since, less feedback was given or accepted. Reason; If I am unable to vote or comment and it is the answer for my issue I will likely never return once I applied the answer to my situation because it is fixed. e.g. I've been frequenting askunbuntu for a couple months now. The OP nor the Answerer ever know just how helpful the question and answer were to me because I'm not allowed to comment on a question or an answer that helped me. I also can't ask someone that has an answer if they can clarify something that may apply to my situation, which could help eliminate duplicates as well.

If the supposed duplicate question or answer that exists, is not specific to me I am left with no other means than to make a new possible duplicate seeking help on my specific case, which helps to perpetuate this issue, assuming I am so new that I have no clue if it IS related to some other question that is not marked This question has a related duplicate question

Usefulness: You could put multiple related questions together, each linked with This question has a related duplicate question, even if overlap happens thereby consolidating them quickly. Tags would consolidate as well providing a noob or an experienced user to find related issues and possibly determine if there is a bug related to the question faster.

Remember as a noob I might not even know the correct tag or category of systems related to my issue to even ask the right question. Therefore noob questions that are broad spectrum could be consolidated into a very helpful set of focused questions, for which some may have answers for noobs. And, experienced users could help focus the direction of these consolidated nodes of related helpful material simply by adding This question has a related duplicate question

This is an exact duplicate should bot be used because extremely qualified persons can have a tendency to place related questions together with a quick peruse of keywords and possibly not seeing some non-keywords that make it unique.

  • 2
    Making an answer the measure for a dupe would really make things unclear. Then the search would be pretty much impossible. It has always been (and should be) the question that defines the dupe. Aug 17, 2015 at 6:15
  • I clarified my point by eliminating answers. Aug 17, 2015 at 7:24
  • @JacobVlijm: I agree that making the answer is the wrong measure. Still, and that is my point, that is the very focus of the duplicate message. Rather than stating that it is a duplicate, it states that there is an answer. Basically the system gives a message which is there for totally different reasons (question being a dupe rather than being able to find your answer there).
    – Koen
    Aug 17, 2015 at 11:09
  • @xtrchessreal: I'm not sure I follow your argumentation here, but I think you raise a valid issue about duplicates not being actual duplicates - as noobs may not have the knowledge to tag and explain themselves properly. However, in my argument I am assuming that the question is an actual duplicate. Concerning the message, I would go either with: "This question has a related question" or "This question is a duplicate question"
    – Koen
    Aug 17, 2015 at 11:38
  • @Koen See my comment to you under my question. Aug 17, 2015 at 12:43
  • I rewrote my point to try to make it clearer Aug 18, 2015 at 0:06

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