If possible, I think we should avoid answering Duplicate questions.

See https://money.stackexchange.com/questions/3297/waiting-for-hst-cheque

Chris W Rea answered this question and marked it as duplicate. I think if we know something is a duplicate, we should avoid answering redundantly and just mark as duplicate.

What do you all think?

  • Before we discuss further on this, it would be good to read how Jeff has a change on heart on Duplicates. Read his blog at blog.stackoverflow.com/2010/11/…
    – Dheer
    Commented Dec 15, 2010 at 8:50

2 Answers 2


I started that practice some time back under the StackExchange 1.0 site because closing a question as a duplicate didn't notify the original poster by email (does it, now?), but answering the question does email-notify.

Anyway, when I post an answer like that before closing a question as a duplicate I keep it short, link to the duplicate, and mark the answer as a community wiki (i.e. no double rep counting).

  • I'm looking into wether owners are notified of closed questions. Commented Aug 31, 2010 at 23:46
  • Apparently, owners are not notified of closed questions, only answers on a per question basis. Commented Sep 2, 2010 at 0:37
  • Yes, as I suspected. I think that's a gap in the platform. If a user wanted to be notified about answers to their question, they ought to be notified if a moderator has closed the question to answers! Commented Sep 2, 2010 at 13:15
  • Maybe someone should go over to meta and request a notification be added?
    – JohnFx Mod
    Commented Sep 2, 2010 at 15:05
  • I would ask, but I haven't waded through the 1000's of questions on meta yet to see if somebody already asked for this feature, and my question would likely, ahem, be closed as a duplicate ;-) Commented Sep 2, 2010 at 15:26
  • @chris From my conversation with Jeff Atwood, I do not believe that he would see it as a gap in the platform. He believes that SE is about quality questions, answers and the community that maintains them. Not selfish, drive-by users who can not be bothered to remember where they asked their question. Commented Sep 2, 2010 at 16:52
  • :%s/selfish/unsophisticated/g Commented Sep 2, 2010 at 17:37
  • Irrespective of what we may or may not think of a user's motivation for asking a question and opting for notification, I simply don't see any drawback to notifying somebody by email that their question was closed as duplicate as opposed to actually answered. Consider: If it is valuable to let users know there is an answer waiting for them, it is also valuable to tell them, politely, not to expect an answer but to "please visit the site to see related questions that can help you." It gets the user coming back. Commented Sep 2, 2010 at 17:45
  • (And maybe that user, coming back, will want to learn how to ask good questions the next time, converting from seemingly "selfish" into a valued contributor.) Commented Sep 2, 2010 at 17:46
  • @George @JohnFX sorry forgot the @mentions to ping you Commented Sep 2, 2010 at 17:48
  • Chris, that assumes that the user opted for email notification on the particular question. Which is a on a per question basis. I was under the impression that one could elect it on a wholesale basis. Regarding the %s/selfish/unsophisticated/g: How sophisticated does one have to be to remember to come back to a website? Arguably, one would have to be a bit more sophisticated to expect an opt-in for email notification. BTW the notification in comments only works for the first @. Commented Sep 2, 2010 at 17:59
  • Ultimately, this isn't a question of the utility of email notifications. That would have to be a separate issue brought up on MSO as it is a platform wide thing. That said, I need to get more clarification. I was in a hurry when I asked about email notification and didn't bring up this issue: on the prefs page there is an option I'd like email notifications of activity on questions I've asked So, the question is WTF does "activity" mean in this and is this not a wholesale option? /headdesk Commented Sep 2, 2010 at 18:04

While I tend to like email notification and there is something to be said for it bringing people back to the site, since email notification is not pervasive through the SE platform we should not work with the assumption that it is enabled.

I asked about this in today's moderator chat session. This was the response I received:

assuming the user a) has an email b) has opted in to email FOR THAT QUESTION.. so it'd still be quite rare remember, email is 100% not required to use any of our sites, and we never send emails to anyone unless they ask for it on a per-question basis

I think leaving a comment is sufficient, since that will trigger the site notifications. adding an answer is arguably wrong since it's not really an answer..

we generally work under the assumption that users are coming back and looking at their questions.. the email option is really just "last resort" for users who can't or won't.

Original transcript (moderator only)

So, I think we should just leave a comment pointing to the canonical question for the duplicate(s) and leave it at that.

  • 1
    Hmm. Re: "we generally work under the assumption that users are coming back and looking at their questions" ... incorrect assumption. Sometimes the post is a one-off from a user that arrived here via Google, and they are relying on the email notify. Commented Sep 2, 2010 at 13:14
  • 1
    @chris Sure, but if we're talking about a duplicate, who cares? There is a similar question which already exists. There is little value in chasing this one-off user anyway. The value is in the question. Truth be told, email notification like this does not encourage one to become a part of the community. The reason I would want it for some random forum is because I'm merely looking for an answer to my question and I don't want to have to remember to check a bunch of forums. Or even remember which forums I "spammed" with my question. Commented Sep 2, 2010 at 16:53

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