If there's a question that's been asked a lot and could've been easily found through a search of the site, but the actual question is a very good question; while it should be flagged, is it alright to down vote or not?

3 Answers 3


I can answer from my own experience here. I think I've asked one question which proved to be a duplicate, and I think the reason for my mistake was that I don't know how to read Hebrew, and I'm not familiar with the technical terminology.

If you only read English, and if you don't know the proper terminology, it is difficult to sort out which questions might be the same as yours, because you don't understand what the other questions are asking.

I have much more experience on the Science Fiction and Fantasy SE, and there, everything is in plain English, so it is easy to figure out if your question has already been asked. Here, this is not the case.

It doesn't make sense to ask everyone to refrain from using technical terminology, since the vast majority of people on the site are familiar with this terminology. Therefore, I think the best tactic would be to take into account the possibility that linguistic issues might be partly to blame for duplicates, and be lenient with people who might not know the proper terminology.

Duplicates aren't necessarily a bad thing anyway - although they can be tedious and clog the feed somewhat, they serve an important purpose in attracting attention to the original question, which provides a very useful service to people who are trying to find an answer to their question.

I suggest that you upvote or downvote a question based on its own merits, not whether it is a duplicate.

  • 1
    "Duplicates aren't necessarily a bad thing anyway - although they can be tedious and clog the feed somewhat, they serve an important purpose in attracting attention to the original question, which provides a very useful service to people who are trying to find an answer to their question.". Commenting on a question does the same thing, to bring it to the top of the active feed. I'm inclined to agree with you on the last paragraph, which is the part that mainly answers your question. The language barrier you mentioned is a good point, when answering questions that seem relevant to non Jews...
    – user613
    Commented Aug 19, 2015 at 4:29
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    ... Or non religious people, if I have time, I sometimes try to translate, but as you said correctly, it's not really practical because most people here are Jews. But an idea would be if people can make the title clear so at least you know if it's a dupe.
    – user613
    Commented Aug 19, 2015 at 4:31
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    @user613 Unless I'm seriously mistaken, commenting on a question or answer does not bump it up the feed. Only edits and bounties do that.
    – Wad Cheber
    Commented Aug 19, 2015 at 5:50
  • @user613 From Jeff Atwood himself: blog.stackexchange.com/2009/04/handling-duplicate-questions
    – Wad Cheber
    Commented Aug 19, 2015 at 10:31
  • @user613 - Also relevant, albeit less so: meta.stackexchange.com/a/50106/295850
    – Wad Cheber
    Commented Aug 19, 2015 at 10:33
  • You may be right about comments. And since he only said down voting by copy paste duplicates, and I'm taking about number 2, accidental (I assume that's how people understood me), so I guess they don't deserve down votes; so I ticked your answer. And he also mentions about it attracting more attention for when people search for it because of the different wording (when talking about borderline duplicates), I'm not so sure that's what you meant, but same idea. Thanks.
    – user613
    Commented Aug 19, 2015 at 12:08

First, here is what the documentation says about downvotes:

When should I vote down?

Use your downvotes whenever you encounter an egregiously sloppy, no-effort-expended post, or an answer that is clearly and perhaps dangerously incorrect.

What does that mean with respect to duplicate questions? Each user will evaluate this a little differently, but here are some considerations I apply when voting:

  • Is the duplicate so close that it would have popped up in the first few entries on the "suggested duplicates" list you get when asking a question? This can suggest a lack of effort.

  • Is the duplicate phrased differently enough that you would have had to know there was a dupe, or do an exhaustive search, to find out before asking? This can act as a useful signpost for people coming from search engines; people may ask the same question in many different ways.

  • Is the new question asked really well while the older one is not? This could be a candidate for a merge, bringing a well-asked, findable question together with the existing answers.

  • Does the question indicate somehow that the author did try to search first? Not everybody is skilled with searching and Stack Exchange search can be a little iffy sometimes.

  • Does the question acknowledge the other question and explain why the author thinks this question is different? (Even if he's not right about that, did he try?)

  • "Your votes are yours to do with as you choose" So if I don't like someone here, I can just down vote everything they write? Technically you're right, but it's not necessarily the correct thing to do. I up-voted your response, because the rest is good, although I'm more inclined to go like wad cheber
    – user613
    Commented Aug 19, 2015 at 4:25
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    I upvoted Wad's answer, which I hadn't yet seen when writing this one. I'll try to refine that first part in an edit later. Commented Aug 19, 2015 at 13:28
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    Thanks for the feedback; I've edited. Also, it's tangential to the question and (new version of) the answer, but FYI, here's the documentation on serial voting, which is not appropriate. Vote on the post, not the person. Commented Aug 19, 2015 at 15:15
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    I like you, so I'm upvoting your answer. U got a problem with that??? (Don't take this seriously, BTW :-)
    – DanF
    Commented Aug 27, 2015 at 16:40
  • Searching skills vary very much from one person to another; downvoting someone just because their mind isn't as flexible as would be ideal doesn't do much to improve the world. It is possible for someone's research to be both consciencious and mediocre. In general M.Y. is less welcoming than it self-identifies as being; the use of downvotes is part of that (condescension, ridicule and sarcasm also await the foolish new arrival) Commented Sep 1, 2015 at 7:36
  • @chrysanthemum and search tools vary too; the search built into SE isn't very good. This is why I talked about the narrower case of getting a link to the other question in that drop-down when you type your title. All that said, I almost never downvote for "should have found that dupe", but I know some people do so I mentioned it here. (I do downvote, but generally not for that.) Commented Sep 1, 2015 at 15:21

Down-voting a question is extremely discouraging and causes the usage of this exchange to drop. It should be used sparingly. A question needs to be obviously negligent to warrant a down vote. For duplicates - an obvious duplicate should be down-voted, that is negligent. Some questions may seem like a duplicate but have a different nuance to them. In that case the user should be encouraged to explain himself.

  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat.
    – Isaac Moses Mod
    Commented Jun 25, 2017 at 20:41

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