14

SuperUser is haunted by repeated questions on topics as:

  • Antivirus suggestions
  • Virus/Spyware removing
  • Best practices for troubleshooting common problems
  • Best buy guides for hardware and software

In contrast to StackOverflow and ServerFault, SuperUser visitors aren't always as computer savvy or lack the searching skills to first look for an answer on our site before creating their own version.

I would like to see that these questions get one master version that is:

  • community wiki
  • gets updated (when needed)
  • easily visible to new users

This could be done by giving them a more prominent spot (as a sticky) or by suggesting them when people use certain keywords. But at least this way we can close all these related or duplicated questions and refer them to one questions for each topic.

I understand that this won't take care of all duplicates, but at least it's a start. Any suggestions for other effective solutions are more than welcome

migrated from meta.stackexchange.com Jul 22 '10 at 18:01

This question came from our discussion, support, and feature requests site for meta-discussion of the Stack Exchange family of Q&A websites.

  • 1
    Shouldn't this have one of the grey bordered tags like "discussion" - do you get to post anything you like being a moderator? – ChrisF Jan 21 '10 at 20:29
  • PS - I think it should have the "discussion" tag anyway. – ChrisF Jan 21 '10 at 20:33
  • 1
    Normally I got the forced popup to add one of these, but apparently this new found status takes that away. So don't be too harse on my ignorance ;-) – Ivo Flipse Jan 21 '10 at 20:39
  • I've rallied for something similar in the past: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/21727/… – squillman Jan 21 '10 at 21:00
  • I like this suggestion, just not sure what the best way is to approach it. – Troggy Jan 22 '10 at 3:57
  • it won't help... – quack quixote Jan 22 '10 at 7:09
  • At least then we can close every duplicate on sight and refer them to the master post – Ivo Flipse Jan 22 '10 at 7:36
  • I don't think it is correct to say this doesn't happen on serverfault. There are many 'How do i become a sysadmin?' questions. – Zoredache Jan 23 '10 at 1:10
  • My comment as to serverfault is more aimed at how computer savvy the visitors are, not the questions itself – Ivo Flipse Jan 23 '10 at 7:00
  • community-faq – gparyani Mar 31 '14 at 17:25
9

"Sticky" doesn't really scale; I've seen far too many PHPBB systems where the first page (or more!) of each forum is completely lost to sticky posts... which are still ignored by new users. Even when "READ THIS BEFORE POSTING!!!" is appended to their titles...

One possibility is a tag-specific FAQ, where you could link to the canonical questions. If this was expanded to give questions so linked a bit of priority in the "Related" lists, that could help with closing the inevitable duplicates more easily... and keep them fresh enough in the minds of users that they might have at least a shot at staying up-to-date.

Another possibility would be a system that keeps track of duplicate links. If this were used to increase ranking in search and related lists (PageRank-style), then again it could help promote the use of a single canonical question when closing new duplicates.

  • 1
    +1 I like the PageRank way of making the "original" float more to the top and you're right about people not reading these "sticky" posts – Ivo Flipse Jan 21 '10 at 20:41
  • There are some things users tend not to read. For me Terms and Conditions is undoubtedly at number one. FAQ ranks high, but if they are brief, I will read them. Anyway, here it is the related questions suggestion which should come into play, because no matter how clueless a user is he will see the suggestions as he types the question - or just before submitting it. – Daniel Daranas Jan 22 '10 at 8:53
  • The Questions/FAQ tab we have nowadays comes close to your PageRank idea, doesn't it? Not sure if first-time users will come across it though... – Jonas Heidelberg Oct 22 '11 at 22:38
  • Yes, and we have tag-wikis, and the spiffy new close-as-duplicate suggestion algorithm comes pretty damn close to what I was thinking about. The UI could use some tweaks, but it's a major, major improvement. @Jonas – Shog9 Oct 22 '11 at 23:43
2

The problem is with the users. Both high-rep and newcomers.

There's a difference betweeen not knowing how to search, and not wanting to search at all.

And then you have those with close level rep and flag/comment level rep answering what they themselves know to be dupe answers on dupe questions.

But they post answers anyway, so that they can net one or two upvotes. And if someone else votes to close as dupe they'll maybe vote too. Maybe.

  • time heals all wounds – Jeff Atwood Jan 22 '10 at 4:19
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    @Jeff easy for you to say. When you see everybody doing the exact opposite of what they should be doing (especially the ones that ahould know better) you kind of get fed up. Why do you think there are so many inactive high rep users? – alex Jan 22 '10 at 5:59
  • Pablo Picasso said one "I don't search, I find" ("Je ne cherche pas, je trouve"). In a similar way, users should be forced to find the related questions right in front of their nose as they are asking. – Daniel Daranas Jan 22 '10 at 8:55
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    Definitely a problem on SU. – ChrisF Jan 22 '10 at 9:01
  • I think it would be worse without the "We've found similar posts" thingy meh bobber. – surfasb Aug 1 '11 at 21:07
0

Yes, it works very well. For example, I made this question:

https://meta.stackexchange.com/questions/8401/where-can-i-ask-questions-that-arent-programming-questions

Pretty early on for SO so that we would have a nice easy place to send people when we closed their questions. I'd always leave a comment, "Voting to close as not programming related, please see -link- for other sites where you might be able to get a better answer."

Your suggestion is only slightly different, but it requires a good set of moderators that regularly close as dupe.

I think SU has suffered a little bit more than the other sites due to very busy official moderators recently. Now that SU has new official moderators, you should see fewer problem questions.

Keep in mind that it's still a fairly 'new' site in terms of users - you've only got 54 people that can close questions. To some degree it's a wild west. Since there aren't that many 3k+ moderators, consider flagging questions for moderator attention that are obviously out of bounds or duplicates, as the official moderators can take action more quickly.

  • 3
    The actual number of people that can close is lower than that since quite a lot of the 3k+ users are inactive. – alex Jan 22 '10 at 5:54

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