I have been around for a few months now. What I notice is that the same questions keep on being asked over and over again. For instance about what ubuntu version to use, problems to install, questions about encryption, black/purple screen problems.

Usually they are duplicates (though sometimes I feel that this a fuzzy concept).

I know we can flag them, but shouldn't we downvote them too? There clearly is often little research effort behind them. That might give a clearer image of what information is helpful on the website.

Also cf. Some closed questions should not be downvoted, just closed. Thoughts?

4 Answers 4


I just vote to close.

The site offers a duplicate search, some users use it, some don't. Sometimes if you notice a trend, you can do a search for a common duplicate and then just flag a bunch at once.

For example I do a search for "black screen" and "freeze" on occasion and always find some getting through. Just keep flagging them! The only time I downvote is if the question is so poor that it being a duplicate is only part of it's problem. It just so happens that most poorly written questions are also duplicates. I tend to just trust that the junk will be closed as a duplicate and save my votes to upvote good questions.

  • Which you can only do starting with a certain rep level. Commented Feb 15, 2013 at 20:05
  • 8
    If you don't have the rep to close you can always flag it and it gets in the queue, people do it all the time. Commented Feb 15, 2013 at 20:41

Depends. From the MSO post on this

I have several times asked a question that the "similar questions" search did not identify that I later found to be a duplicate of an existing question when someone pointed it out.

So IMO it's better not to.


I would not. Many times duplicates are created because:

  • Title of question is not well formed so the person that created the duplicate could not find it easily or quickly (Reason why he/she ended up creating a duplicate).

  • The OP did not take the time to look in all first 100 questions that might have been similar. Only on the first 10 and none of those first 10 solved the problem. But guess what, question number 42 was the answer.

  • Op did not take the time to even see that the first question that appeared as duplicate while typing the title was the actual solution (This are the ones that do not even take the time to use the search box but can wait 5 days for the answer to their question).

So as you can see, an OP could fall in any of this options (There are more am guessing) so marking them with a downvote (Which I also consider it should be used only in some cases and not in a happy down vote everybody way) without knowing how much time the user took to make the question, if he/she did a search first or just basically how much effort it was put on the question is wrong.

I would first see the question, see if it is easy to find a duplicate, which tells me that the OP did not even take the time to search for it. I would also read the information about the question to not jump into the conclusion that it is a duplicate of another when it just so happens it was not.

As you can see there are several points that could argue not to do the downvote in the first place. Are there questions that deserve a downvote? Yes. Are all duplicates in need of a downvote? No. We need to first study the case before downvoting like it was something easy to do.

In case it was not pointed, downvoting also implies that you are completely against the question/answer, how it was made (Spam, Negatively, Not an actual question/answer, Etc..), not just that you disagree with it.

If you simply disagree with the question or answer at hand, you would use the comments for that, not only to correct the user, but to help improve the situation. Downvoting simply jumps to "I do no agree in any way to what has been written here" and does not add any helpful feedback for the user.

Again, the main point is knowing what question/answer should be downvoted and why. Important part is why. In my case I personally avoid downvoting, I rather help the person, point them to the right direction. If the question is a duplicate and is obvious it is, then yeah, I would simply mark it as duplicate and be done with that (No need to downvote). If the question needs more information or a better format I tell the OP about it (No need to downvote).

Will of all that said, I think you get my idea of how I view the use of votes and how one can approach other users to help.

Example of a question that could have a downvote - Install drivers

But can also get some assistance (And a kick into FAQ land)

  • 1
    I agree with much of your reasoning here--especially the idea that some but not most duplicates are right to downvote--but not with the idea that downvotes are only for posts one is completely against. If I think someone was right to come here for help with a problem, but their question shows poor research effort or is lacking information that could have been provided and makes it unnecessarily difficult to answer, downvoting is quite appropriate. I do certainly agree that downvoting is not for expressing disagreement. It's correct to use it that way here on meta, but not on main. Commented Feb 17, 2013 at 0:47
  • @EliahKagan agree with what you said. I think we are on the same page but maybe I need to edit my answer to express it better. Commented Feb 17, 2013 at 0:49


Downvote a question that doesn't show any research effort, is unclear or is not useful.

A question can show research effort, be clear, and be useful even if it is a duplicate. (Even if its only use is to point to the duplicate, that's still useful.)

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