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Disadvantages of Current Duplicates Policy

Stated briefly, the current policy encourages proliferation over pruning.

The disadvantages of the current duplicates policy stem from the fact that it is a policy of judgement as to which questions and answers are more clear instead of a simple and rigid rule of priority based on first question posted.

This encourages AU members to write new, better, and redundant questions and answers rather than encouraging AU members to usefully edit and improve questions and answers that already exist. This spreads Q&A competition for points relevant to a single question over multiple pages of differing quality rather than confining competition to the useful improvement of one page per question.

Ideal Outcomes of Duplicates Policies

  • "According to the Gospel of Spolsky 13:4, a core mission of Stack Exchange communities is to stop re-answering the same questions, and instead build a library of canonical answers."
  • Spolsky again, "Every question in Stack Overflow is like the Wikipedia article for some extremely narrow, specific programming question. How do I enlarge a fizzbar without overwriting the user’s snibbit? This question should only appear once in the site. Duplicates should be cleaned up quickly and redirected to the original question."
  • All AU members, large and small, should therefore feel that the site's community, intellectual, reputation points, and other incentives flow in the direction of creating the encyclopaedic canon of Ubuntu Questions and Answers.
    • By encyclopaedic canon, I mean a set of comprehensive articles with mutually exclusive content that are systematically organized and provide accurate information.

Thanks for your time and patience.

  • While implementing your suggestion will take a lot of thought about how to do it right, it is a step in right direction. Same happens even within a single question. More than one answer exists and the "best answer" which is supposed to rise to the top is often actually composite of several answers because there is no incentive to improve someone else's previous answer. – Justice for Monica Feb 18 '14 at 18:14
  • Hmmm... Nine hours ... just one upvote (mine) and just one comment (mine). Maybe you picked a wrong time: elections are on ;) – Justice for Monica Feb 19 '14 at 3:16
1

Solution: Make It Easier for Answerers to Find Duplicates

I note that when a user clicks on "Ask Question" and enters text in the "Title" bar, AU offers them an opportunity to view questions related to their question Title ("Questions that may already have your answer").

  • Why not offer the same opportunity to the Answerer who clicks in the "Your Answer" box?

The Answerer is then explicitly faced with possible duplicates and may point the Asker to that duplicate, and ultimately clean up the duplicate's Question and Answer to clarify, edit, and improve them so that future Askers don't create needless duplicates.

Reasons for Proposed Solution

  1. Answerers Know More than Askers: It is the Answerer who likely understands the question, answer, and where this question fits into the Ubuntu question/answer space better than the Asker, likely has more experience on AU, and thus has a greater probability of realizing this new question is a duplicate. Thus, AU should focus on Answerers' opportunities to identify duplicates at least as much as Askers'.
  2. Moderators Don't Need to Shoulder All Duplicate Duties: It's possible this may decrease burden on moderators who will deal with less Duplicate Duties in terms of judgement, merging, and ultimately removal as Answerers do more Duplicate Duties using a simple and rigid rule of priority based on first question posted.
  3. Active Members Should Be Editors and Writers: It's possible this may channel user and moderator energy toward refining current content into a systematic, coherent, and comprehensive site (an encyclopaedic canon) in terms of style and content that answers AU's 'How do I use Ubuntu' mutually exclusive questions rather than adding new, overlapping site content and increasing site clutter.
  4. An Online Canon Needs an Active Community: An encyclopaedic canon of Ubuntu Questions and Answers will likely be easier if the whole community is involved which will require a set of incentive structures for all AU members that align with this goal.
  5. One Question, One Page is Technically Feasible: Just as Wikipedia readers do not have to browse three pages on the "Pitcairn Islands" to learn about them, my opinion is that it is feasible for a site like AskUbuntu to confine "How (to run) (executable files) (in Nautilus)" to one canonical page as well.

Thanks for your time and patience.

1

Solution: Reward Members for Finding and Cleaning Up Duplicates

AU Members are encouraged to respond to rewards in the form of Reputation Points:

  • Why not adjust the Reputation Points structure to reward Answerers who find and improve content that already exists rather than creating (better) duplicates?

The Answerer is then offered incentives to find the duplicate, point the Asker to that duplicate, and ultimately clean up the duplicate's Question and Answer to clarify, edit, and improve them so that future Askers don't create needless duplicates.

Reasons for Proposed Solution

  1. Answerers Know More than Askers: It is the Answerer who likely understands the question, answer, and where this question fits into the Ubuntu question/answer space better than the Asker, likely has more experience on AU, and thus has a greater probability of realizing this new question is a duplicate. Thus, AU should focus on Answerers' opportunities to identify duplicates at least as much as Askers'.
  2. Moderators Don't Need to Shoulder All Duplicate Duties: It's possible this may decrease burden on moderators who will deal with less Duplicate Duties in terms of judgement, merging, and ultimately removal as Answerers do more Duplicate Duties using a simple and rigid rule of priority based on first question posted.
  3. Active Members Should Be Editors and Writers: It's possible this may channel user and moderator energy toward refining current content into a systematic, coherent, and comprehensive site (an encyclopaedic canon) in terms of style and content that answers AU's 'How do I use Ubuntu' mutually exclusive questions rather than adding new, overlapping site content and increasing site clutter.
  4. An Online Canon Needs an Active Community: An encyclopaedic canon of Ubuntu Questions and Answers will likely be easier if the whole community is involved which will require a set of incentive structures for all AU members that align with this goal.
  5. One Question, One Page is Technically Feasible: Just as Wikipedia readers do not have to browse three pages on the "Pitcairn Islands" to learn about them, my opinion is that it is feasible for a site like AskUbuntu to confine "How (to run) (executable files) (in Nautilus)" to one canonical page as well.

Thanks for your time and patience.

-3

This encourages AU members to write new, better, and redundant questions and answers rather than encouraging AU members to usefully edit and improve questions and answers that already exist. This spreads Q&A competition for each question over multiple pages of differing quality rather than confining competition to the improvement of one page per question.

While it maybe more challenging to get people to improve existing questions (with the current reward system), it should be very much easier to convince users with several K rep not to answer questions which trivially differ from existing, thoroughly answered questions. That happens quite often. I've just encountered one and suggested a duplicate. I don't know why such high-rep users do things like that. I think that is very sad and bad for the site. They should be using their experience to make AU better and not try to hike their rep in this way.

Of course, I could be seeing things all wrong ;) but if I'm not, this is something that could be done simply because high-rep users are not hit-and-run type and will I hope listen to reason.

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