If I see a question I can answer, I answer. If I know it has been answered recently. I point to the existing post in a comment. However if you have to search actively before giving (every) answer if it is a possible duplicate, it will slow down the process.

What is the general idea? (Although I did a quick search, this might be a duplicate as well)

  • 2
    I would do some quick searches on the topic, if you can't fin anything answer it. If it's then marked as a dupe then it's not your fault it's the OP's.
    – Alvar
    Commented Mar 10, 2014 at 14:38

2 Answers 2


The following is just my opinion.

I've been using Ask Ubuntu for about 3 years, so by now, I kind of know which question is a duplicate.
Basically, most of the questions that get duplicated, are asked a lot.

So after a while, you can tell.
But usually, if I'm going to answer a question I do a few things.

  • I start by looking at the related questions in the right column. The system is quite smart. Most of the times, the duplicate is there.
  • If it's something that's quite common, where in my mind I would be sure that someone must have asked such question before, (for example, those apt-get permission denied questions) I search quite a bit to find the duplicate.
  • If neither of the above, I do a quick search. If I find a dupe, I flag it. If I don't find any and I know the answer, I answer it.

Normally the logical process when seeing a question is:

  1. Is it understandable -> if not - edit, vote, comment, close
  2. Does it belong here -> if not - vote to close
  3. Has it been already asked -> look for a dupe
  4. You know the answer? -> write an answer

in which each step has an exit behavior. Now, there are several users on internet, each one with their own methodology, so the above is not always followed or there are cases where it's not applicable.

I believe all easy questions already has answers, and answerers needs to be prepared if a moderator comes around and delete their answer because it breaks redirection.

  • 1
    I think the process is probably a bit more complex (often I vote for a question after answering it, for instance), but you do mention many important considerations. It should also not be neglected that experienced users just know that a question is a duplicate too.
    – don.joey
    Commented Mar 11, 2014 at 22:01
  • 1
    Why 'Is understandable -> edit, vote, comment, close' and 'It belongs here -> vote to close' - what would be the point of closing it it is understandable and belongs here...
    – Wilf
    Commented Mar 11, 2014 at 22:29
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    @Wilf if a question is about CentOS... obviously doesn't belong here, no?
    – Braiam
    Commented Mar 11, 2014 at 22:47
  • Yes, but what about 'Is understanble, but something is wrong with it'? Most posts here are understandable...
    – Wilf
    Commented Mar 13, 2014 at 11:50
  • 1
    @Wilf is answerable?
    – Braiam
    Commented Mar 13, 2014 at 12:10
  • 2
    @Wilf something wrong, like what? Spelling -> edit, yelling in all caps -> edit, something technical -> comment for clarfication
    – Mateo
    Commented Mar 13, 2014 at 16:27

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