Last August, we had a discussion about a new approach to duplicate questions, and it was decided that we would have a trial period that would go from then until January of 2017 and afterwards we would have a discussion on how it played out. It is now into May of 2017 and unless I completely missed it, we haven't had a discussion about the results. The only results I have seen is this answer that documented a few of the questions that may have been affected by this change in policy.

Can we get some data on the impact of this change, because it seems to either have not had much of an impact as there hasn't been any real discussion about it. Also what does it mean, if nothing really changed with the new policy? Was it ineffective, or did we just do a bad job testing the new policy?

  • It seemed like it didn't really come up all that often, but worked fine when it did. I'd be okay with either adopting it, or letting the trial continue so we can get more data points.
    – DCShannon
    May 8 '17 at 20:50
  • It seems that there wasn't much data collated. Not enough significant data = no conclusion. May 22 '17 at 6:43

This came up so infrequently that it's pretty difficult to make a policy decision based on the results. On the other hand, this came up so infrequently and was such a low burden that, to me, it makes sense to err on the side of helping the users over enforcing previous duplicate policy.

My takeaway from the experiment is to give askers the benefit of the doubt. If they say a duplicate question doesn't help them, but it looks like they're asking the same thing, try to figure out what's different. Use the rules to help keep quality high, not just because they're the rules.

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    It's so infrequent that I would ask those rallying against it from the perspective of "filling the site with unmarked duplicates"" to review what we were actually proposing, which was to follow the guidance of SE directly: "...the proof is in the answers. If the question looks the same, but the answers aren't solving the asker's problem, that is not a dupe – that is a legitimate new question. Neither the person asking nor the person who lands from Google cares if the question has been asked before: they care if it has been answered."
    – Robotnik Mod
    May 8 '17 at 23:42
  • Do you have any examples of questions that were affected by this trial? I reread the original post and I'm still not entirely sure how I should have changed my voting behavior, if at all.
    – Mage Xy
    May 9 '17 at 14:07
  • @MageXy - A small list was maintained on the announcement of the trial period
    – Robotnik Mod
    May 10 '17 at 3:08

Based on our list of possible duplicates, I can't see how this whole thing was anything but an utter waste of everyone's time. We honestly spent more time arguing about the implementation of this than we did just curating these questions.

Not to mention that we're still totally inconsistent about this. The second question listed still got closed as a dupe. It never got reopened, even though it was asked during this trial period.

If this rule absolutely has to exist, then there needs to be a leadership push behind it to actually enforce the silly thing. That was lacking the entire trial period, which was the most critical time for it. The hands off approach didn't work, and nothing is going to change if mods don't actually step in.

For something that should be a community driven effort...this whole thing was a bust.

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    The fact that we spent more time arguing about it than we spent curating it is exactly how I expected this to go, and exactly why it's nonsense to go back to the old, letter-of-the-law strict way of doing things. May 11 '17 at 15:21
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    @Beedrill I see exactly the opposite; its nonsense to change the process when nobody got behind the damn thing and pushed. Nobody owned it, and while there was community support for it on Meta, that's as far as it went. If you want this thing to work, step up. Show you think its worth keeping by leading it from the front.
    – Frank
    May 11 '17 at 16:30
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    Its worth is self evident by the fact that there were no practical downsides and keeping an open mind about helping users who have questions is its own benefit. There doesn't need to be a constant push to help people for this to work. There just needs to be less of an authoritarian, black-and-white implementation of the rules about duplicates. May 11 '17 at 16:53
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    @Beedrill Look at dupe votes. Seriously. The community doesn't really want this. There's no push, no drive, to help out these questions. You want this rule, despite how the community acts. Fine. I have no issue with that. But you're gonna have to lead it. That was incredibly lacking during this trial, and it showed. I stayed out of the whole thing, so you can't blame it on me. If you're not going to step up, then let it die. The community won't lead it, despite the support on Meta, which is very telling.
    – Frank
    May 11 '17 at 16:59
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    @Frank The votes on Beedrils answer and the original post strongly contradict that "the community doesn't really want this"
    – Wipqozn Mod
    May 11 '17 at 20:26
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    @Wipqozn Upvotes are cheap. Same thing happened on the previous meta posts. But if you look at the actual voting patterns, this whole thing was a bust. None of you got behind it, even after the whole thing went into effect, and as a result, it didn't make any meaningful impact at all. Lead, guys. That's why you were elected. Don't just mandate a rule, step back, and watch the community do nothing.
    – Frank
    May 11 '17 at 20:42
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    To be clear, I'm not saying there isn't merit in continuing the trial. I just take massive exception that the community is supposed to enact a policy our mods can't even be bothered to support. You wanted your trial. You got it. And did nothing with it.
    – Frank
    May 11 '17 at 20:44
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    @Wipqozn The votes on Beedril's answer might have been positive, but half of the examples in that post are still closed as dupes... Maybe I'm misunderstanding what the trial was supposed to accomplish, but based on that evidence it looks more like the community is still divided - or at the very least, confused.
    – Mage Xy
    May 12 '17 at 17:55

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