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In the past, we've talked about dealing with duplicate answers, especially those from new users. The general consensus was to let them be, as it was a "safe" way for people to start getting involved in the site and we didn't want to crush their enthusiasm.

Seeing one of the first Skyrim questions start to accumulate duplicates though, I'm wondering if a usually innocuous problem is going to get out of hand due to the contest. What do we do if ten people all give essentially equivalent answers to a question? Do we start deleting answers that don't add anything new, or just let them keep piling up? What if they give a different link, but it essentially gives the same information? Or what if someone duplicates an answer and makes an incremental improvement to it in an attempt to fish for upvotes? Normally we'd prefer people just edit the existing answer to improve it, but new users that are focusing on the contest are unlikely to want to give up votes and give them to someone else in that way.

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    Does it matter if they get votes or not? Duplicate answers with only 1 or 0 votes are ultimately irrelevant for the promotion. – Raven Dreamer Nov 8 '11 at 20:08
  • @Raven I'm more worried about the question pages getting cluttered with a large number of duplicate answers. It makes the site look more confusing and hard to use than it normally is. – bwarner Nov 8 '11 at 20:10
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    Take a look at StackOverflow for examples; duplicate answers will increase as site popularity increases. Let SE handle the sorting and display; multiple answers come with the territory. – Ian Pugsley Nov 8 '11 at 20:17
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If the duplicates are each a proper answer and each posted at roughly the same time (such as in the case of your Skyrim example) then just deal with them in the normal manner by simply voting up the best one.

Remember that for most visitors (they come via search engines) they'll see the highest voted answers at the top anyway, so won't really get overwhelmed with potential dupes anyway (because they'll probably read the best answer or two and leave).


If a duplicate is added to a question "late" - to a question that already has high quality, high-scoring and possibly even accepted answer - and this duplicate doesn't add anything new, well that is when I'd consider that duplicate to be a problem.

Strictly speaking, the answer is probably still a "valid" answer, so then it becomes a bit of a judgement call on whether or not they should be kept - I'm inclined to say they shouldn't in this sort of case.


If a duplicate is added to a question "late" - similar to as above - but this duplicate does add something new, well then the case is more difficult.

Ideally, this would have been an edit to the answer it duplicates, but it depends on how different and large the new information is. If it makes the answer reasonably different (even if a subset is a dupe) it could be better to leave as-is. Consider these case-by-case.


If a duplicate appears saying something like "what bob said is right, but also don't forget x,y,z" well it's not really a duplicate anyway (as it doesn't contain the same info, just references it), but it should probably be a comment or edit.

However, if the new content is good and the user has clearly put effort in to it, let it stand as it's own answer. Again, these things need to be considered case-by-case.

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I don't think questions and answers for MW3 and Skyrim should be treated differently than questions for any other game or tag. The main purpose of the contest is to generate quality content on hot new games, right? Duplicate answers are not quality content.

And the How and Why of the contest are explicit about this: (emphasis is mine)

We run a site of super smart gamers that ask questions & provide high-quality answers.

Our site is about helping other gamers get better at their games. That means that if your “answer” is just, “yeah, I have that problem too” or “I tried the flamethrower but it didn't work”, save it for the comments. Answers are for answers only. Great answers will get lots of upvotes and help you win.

I would like to see duplicate answers deleted; answers that are similar or that provide minimal improvement could be handled through normal downvoting, I think.

Of course, it's easy for me to say that they should be deleted, because I can't vote to do so and can't delete them myself, so I'm essentially volunteering other people to do that. I just think we're not accomplishing what seems to be the goal if we leave a bunch of valueless answers on what we hope to be highly-visible questions. I think we want to continue to attract and retain people who provide solid content, and that won't be easy if their first exposure to Gaming is a bunch of low-quality answers.

  • I don't like deleting duplicate answers as a general policy (see the question I linked), and it seems that most people agree (based on voting on that question). So if you think we shouldn't treat these any different, then we should leave the duplicates alone. – bwarner Nov 9 '11 at 14:22
  • I think it's more that most people don't care one way or another; none of those who do openly supported deletion by suggesting it in an answer. It's more important to me to treat these the same as other answers, regardless of how we do it. I would prefer that that happens through deletion, but if that's not the community's direction, that's fine. I definitely wouldn't support relaxing our policy on duplicates (say, by discouraging downvotes) for the contest. – Dave DuPlantis Nov 9 '11 at 14:50
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    Wait, under what situation is it appropriate to downvote a correct but duplicate answer? That really seems likely to drive people away, defeating the whole purpose of this contest. – bwarner Nov 9 '11 at 15:19
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    I don't think the purpose of the contest is to attract new users no matter what: I think it's to attract more people who can contribute to the community according to the standards in the FAQ and here on meta. With respect to downvoting, I think Grace's question covers my position well: if an answer is "not useful" or "not clear", I'll downvote and comment so that the user knows what I would recommend to improve the answer. – Dave DuPlantis Nov 9 '11 at 15:36

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