Recently I came across a question, which was a duplicate of an already asked question here. The duplicate question had an overall negative score ( of -4), but the answers to that duplicate were upvoted (one had a score of 57 as of the time when I'm posting this question, while the top answer on the original question had a score of 18). But then, it is true that the answer was apt, acceptable and deserved upvotes.

I have two questions here, meant only for discussion, and not to criticize anybody.

  1. Is it agreeable to see answers to duplicate questions getting higher scores than accepted answers to the question it was marked as a duplicate of?

  2. Should the community be so hard on a duplicate question as to downvote it (I agree that the question in question was a simple case of Read the Manual, and had already been asked before), and still upvote answers to the question?

The answers to the above questions, in my opinion are:

  1. The answer to the original question deserves a better treatment, as it gets seemingly less attention than the answer for the duplicate.

  2. If there was no question, there would be no answer, so blaming the asker but still awarding the answerer seems kind of strange.

Your thoughts, respected community?

  • 1
    @Zanna OK, not everybody downvoted, so I rephrased my sentence. Thanks! Commented Jan 12, 2018 at 20:09
  • 3
    I'd personally not downvote unless one answer is clearly plagiarizing another. If an answer is good, why punish it? It was obviously posted before the question was closed as dupe, so I'd just assume good faith and wanting to help. In case two questions are really exact duplicates, both have high traffic (significant amount of views/votes) and especially both have good - but maybe different - answers, you might also consider flagging one of them for moderator attention and ask whether they should get merged.
    – Byte Commander Mod
    Commented Jan 12, 2018 at 20:37
  • If there was no question, there would be no answer, so blaming the asker but still awarding the answerer seems kind of strange. I thought i was the only one in the world who found that strange. Commented Jan 13, 2018 at 20:56
  • 2
    @T.Obadiah There even is a gold badge for writing a well-accepted answer on a badly-received question. Commented Jan 14, 2018 at 12:21
  • @MukeshSaiKumar It's like saying "thanks" to your useless question we found something useful. Commented Jan 15, 2018 at 20:43

4 Answers 4


The answer to the original question deserves a better treatment, as it gets seemingly less attention than the answer for the duplicate.

I agree. That answer seems to me to have more value than any of the answers to that question. It's the only answer to either of those questions that I've upvoted.

However, that answer does not really address the question of what the a stands for in ls -a. Perhaps the question is not really a duplicate at all.

Unfortunately, short, easy-to-read answers tend to get disproportionately upvoted, while long, comprehensive answers tend to be undervalued.

However, those answers (to the duplicate) have independent value, and don't duplicate information found in the answer to the original post.

If there was no question, there would be no answer, so blaming the asker but still awarding the answerer seems kind of strange.

Again I broadly agree with you. I don't think there was anything wrong with that question. Some might argue that the question is downvoteable on the basis that it "lacks research", since the answer is given by the man page. Downvoting it because it's not a very interesting question also seems reasonable to me.

In general, asking a duplicate question might (dubiously, in my opinion) be taken to indicate a lack of research (why didn't you find this other question that has the answer already?!) but we all know the internal search... doesn't always produce helpful results, and research is very hard when you know nothing.

I try to vote based mainly on the usefulness of the post. Duplicate questions are sometimes very useful because they have valuable answers, or somewhat useful as signposts, and sometimes they do not add anything useful to the original post. This question, even if it should be considered a duplicate, is arguably somewhat useful because its answers tell us something that is not well explained by the answers to the target post, and arguably not useful, because the question of what the a in ls -a stands for is a boring question - "why did the developer of this program make this decision?"

Finally, the title of your question Do good quality answers on duplicate questions deserve reputation? suggests that you are thinking about the reputation effect of voting, which is far less important, imho, than the peer-review effect of voting. Voting is not primarily to reward the poster with reputation or penalise them by reducing their reputation, but to indicate to site users how useful a post is. So my answer is that useful posts deserve upvotes, and that may certainly apply to good quality answers to duplicate questions.

  • I agree , but I'd like to draw attention to the eftect of formatting: askubuntu.com/questions/517229/what-does-ls-la-do/517240#517240 does include the answer to "what is -a" : "(do not ignore entries starting with .)" : it just doesn't highlight it at all well.
    – WillC
    Commented Jan 26, 2018 at 5:27
  • @WillC the question Mukesh Sai Kumar asks about asks "what does the a stand for in ls -a?". It does not ask what the -a option does (although that may be what OP really wanted to know)
    – Zanna Mod
    Commented Jan 26, 2018 at 6:38
  • Would an answer of 'All' be acceptable, or would it get voted down for being strictly-correct-but-not-useful?
    – WillC
    Commented Feb 12, 2018 at 5:50
  • @WillC see for yourself - the answers got voted up and they barely say more. There is a minimum character limit for some reason
    – Zanna Mod
    Commented Feb 12, 2018 at 6:07
  • good point there.
    – WillC
    Commented Feb 12, 2018 at 8:15

Questions addressing similar issues, but with slightly different symptoms may often seem like obvious duplicates to the specialists, while the tech-unsavvy (I'm one of them) may not be able to find answers without a posting mirroring exactly the issue they're facing. Thus, I find it useful that questions are linked as duplicates. Merging them might make for a more easily navigable forum, but that would also create longer questions accounting for multiple mergers, and require a lot of work from mods. As for the hierarchy between original and duplicate questions, the first aren’t necessarily the most explicit, or the best formulated. The same goes for answers to duplicates: if they’re particularly helpful in resolving the issue, it makes sense that they garner more rep points, and vice-versa. Finally, upvotes aren’t merely indicative of the intrinsic value of a question or an answer; they are dependent on the visibility/accessibility of the page, and to some extent, the mood and state of mind of the particular readers coming across said page. As such, the upvote count shouldn’t be taken as the indisputable value of a post; neither should differences in upvotes be interpreted as the final judgment by the community of one’s post.

  • That's something to add and think of. Thanks! Commented Jan 15, 2018 at 13:26

I'm a fair newbie on Stack, and the whole duplicate question thing has always left me a bit confused, as like @Mukesh Sai Kumar I've consistently found better answers on the duplicates than on the original question.

This whole issue really leaves me with the question :) of:

When the duplicate question is marked duplicate, why aren't the duplicate answers automatically just moved to the original question and the duplicate's URL then auto-redirects to the original question?

Something like that would ‘fix’ the “Where’s the best answer?” problem.

Now back to Mukesh's question...

Do good quality answers on duplicate questions deserve reputation?

Yes! The key is 'good quality.' Any good quality question, or answer, deserves positive reputation.

  • 5
    It is possible to move answers from one question to join those on another. That's called a merge and only mods can do it, so if you see a case where it would really help, you can raise a flag for moderator attention. If a duplicate has better answers than its target, then it's also possible the direction of closure should be reversed, unless there are other reasons for not doing that ("what does ls -a" do is a sub-question of "what does ls -la do") but if the questions are not really dupes and wouldn't be answered by each other's answers they should probably not be closed at all...
    – Zanna Mod
    Commented Jan 14, 2018 at 5:01
  • @Zanna, thanks for the info on how to merge! Will definitely do that in the future.
    – Michael
    Commented Jan 16, 2018 at 0:42
  • 2
    I agree with the last sentence of your answer especially - a good answer is simply a good answer. I have seen on occasion that an OP does not recognize duplication, or understand that they may need to adjust an answer to fit their circumstance, and I have also seen answerers on duplicate question make a distinct effort to write very good answers perhaps without realizing that there was a duplicate involved. Commented Jan 16, 2018 at 6:43

In my personal opinion as a newer forum user, the question should be thoroughly be read before marking as duplicate in the first place.

In the stated situation, the question was NOT the same as the the first. A downvote is deserved for lack of research, but as previously stated, it is hard to research when you know nothing.

Votes should be decided based on whether the question asks something important, and how well the question adds to the overall value of the forum.

  • 1
    Agreed, except Ask Ubuntu is not a forum ;)
    – Zanna Mod
    Commented Jan 19, 2018 at 7:37
  • The main subject of the (this) question was on answers, not so much on questions. Commented Jan 19, 2018 at 15:23

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .