I have noticed that some users are answering questions that are exact duplicate, specially the ones that have a comment pointing to the duplicate.

Is there a way to stop this? I mean the system will have multiple question with multiple answers about the same issue. I think that should be part of the Summer cleanup.

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    I have done this personally, in an attempt to solve(get single upvote to remove it from unanswered percentage and prevent others from answering), because I know -- if it is duped, then I will delete my answer. Others may not do the same. Commented Jul 6, 2012 at 7:26
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    This bothers me, too. I suspect the root cause is that there is no reward (in the form of reputation gain) for flagging dupes, but there is a gain in rep for posting upvoted/accepted answers, even for very obvious dupes. Duplicates are a real problem here, and there is little incentive for weeding them out. Time for a new 'deduplication' badge? Commented Jul 13, 2012 at 6:05
  • Mitch, now that you are a moderator, have you developed a strategy regarding this? Copying answers from duplicated threads is sadly a common practice in this web site. Perhaps these flags should be rewarded? Perhaps there might be a way of speeding up the closure process? Commented May 14, 2014 at 7:57

3 Answers 3


People may disagree that the question is a duplicate. Answers can only be posted on questions before they have been closed as duplicates. Someone asserting a question is a duplicate doesn't constitute community consensus. There's nothing wrong with posting an answer to a question that somebody thinks is a duplicate. Of course, if you think it's a duplicate, you should post the answer to the question you think it's a duplicate of.

So, when people choose to answer a question that is under consideration for being closed as a duplicate, that's not really a problem.

However, once the question is closed as a duplicate, having answers there instead of on the open dupe target is potentially a problem. There are two solutions, and I think we're implementing them quite well already:

  1. If the answer is bad, wrong, or not valuable, it can be downvoted and commented on.

  2. If the answer is valuable and good, moderators can merge it (and other answers to the duplicate question) into the main question. Anyone in the community can ask a moderator to do that. Sometimes it makes sense to ask by commenting.

  • Im my view this is a problem. Questions are sometimes left flagged as duplicates for days, inviting opportunistic users to simply copy answers from the duplicated thread. Commented May 14, 2014 at 7:54
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    Here is a good example of why this strategy is not appropriate. The question was only open for 3 hours but that was enough for a user to fill in a response, getting it up-voted and accepted, gaining 25 reputation points in the process. Annulling the reputation gain would require the down vote from at least 13 users, which with the question closed will certainly not happen. Commented May 14, 2014 at 12:52

As AskUbuntu has grown in size, the chance of being a question duplicate has also increased. In my view, there are two different cases involved here (at least):

Questions that are generic in nature and aren't subject to frequent change.

For example, questions like

  • how to change permission of file or folder or
  • how to navigate in a file-tree or
  • how to create a bootable USB installation disk

have higher chances of being a duplicate (One could almost correctly assume these must be a duplicate considering the maturity level of AskUbuntu). We should avoid answering these questions at first chance, instead search for the dupe target and close vote it.

Questions regarding issues with frequent change.

On the contrary, if the seemingly duplicate questions are about issues that might change from release to release and aren't very obvious as duplicate, can be answered as long as you aren't aware of a dupe target. If you're aware that this is a duplicate, then answering these questions violate good community practice.

For example, questions like

  • How to restart a service (considering the fact that service-management has changed in recent release)
  • Questions about Hardware issues with latest Ubuntu
  • Questions about features of an updated software such as Files, Gnome-Shell 3.20 (at the writing of this answer) etc

I don't see a problem here. There are some cases when I sometimes answer questions and at the same time VTC as a duplicate.

A question can be answered shortly, but the duplicate question has a good but a very complex answer.

A perfect example is Installing Broadcom Wireless Drivers

OP shows that they need bcmwl-kernel-source and it this easy answer is better for the OP than a long manual about these drivers. Not everyone can understand it all, including Secure Boot issue, etc.

Same is about Nvidia drivers with top answer being not quite good, because of being a bit obsolete.

I know the question is a duplicate, but can't find of which one.

In this case I prefer to give an answer. If someone marks the question as a duplicate, nothing is wrong. I can find it later and do it myself.

So I do not think it is a problem at all.

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    Quite frankly, I never understand when people answer and vtc. Either edit the existing answer if it could use clarification, or add an answer to the original post. I don't see the point in spreading information then all over the site. Commented Aug 18, 2016 at 17:51
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    I explained it. For Broadcom the canonical answer is too complex.
    – Pilot6
    Commented Aug 18, 2016 at 18:25
  • Not sure what the explanation changes; it is still possible to edit the answer or add a simple one to the original post. Commented Aug 19, 2016 at 17:00
  • That won't work. We have a thorough manual that is applicable to all Broadcom adapters and all cases. It will help OP if they can understand it all. I give a short answer for a specific case. There are hundreds of these specific cases. What is your suggestion? 1. Just VTC to a long manual? 2. Do not VTC? 3. Other?
    – Pilot6
    Commented Aug 19, 2016 at 17:04
  • Ah, I get the point. Seems valid to me, but it isn't the average case the question is about I think. Commented Aug 19, 2016 at 17:07
  • It is not average, but there are some questions of this sort. We close as a duplicate to a canonical Q&A and sometimes give a short answer. I do it in comments in most cases, but sometimes comment box is not good for it.
    – Pilot6
    Commented Aug 19, 2016 at 17:09
  • Yeah, me too. Also if the original question only has many, very old and outdated answers. Not going to post on a dead question. I'd rather post an up to date answer then on the recent question and mark the old one as a dupe. Commented Aug 19, 2016 at 17:15

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