Is downvoting a duplicate (but otherwise sound) question a good thing to do? It seems to me that it unnecessarily alienates new users (who are probably the most likely to ask a duplicate question.) This question: https://tex.stackexchange.com/q/21858/2693 got a down vote, despite my comment and a couple of close votes.

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    There is also this duplicate which is a re-post by the same user, because he didn't get any answers ("just" comments asking for a MWE etc.) after 12 hours. There I understand the person giving a -1. Double posting should be discouraged. I understand it in some forums and mailinglists but it doesn't make sense here. Commented Jun 29, 2011 at 11:55
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    @Martin: These types of duplicates should indeed be discouraged, and I think one should delete them rather sooner than later. (And sorry for being obstinate: he didn't get any answers :-)) Commented Jun 29, 2011 at 12:11

4 Answers 4


Thanks Alan for bringing this up!

Please don't downvote a question just because it's a duplicate. It can happen that a duplicate is even better written than the earlier question. Only downvote if the question is bad or unclear, as usual.

Especially with new users it can happen that they did not find the earlier question. Then it would be great to post a nice comment pointing to the duplicate, that's friendlier than just voting to close without a word.

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    I really agree with the "It can happen that a duplicate is even better written than the earlier question." part. Sometimes I want to mark the older answer as an duplicate to the new one just because of this! Commented Jun 29, 2011 at 11:49

In addition what Stefan already stated:

Especially new users shouldn't be down-voted (especially not below -1!) because this repels them from this site. Point out the duplicate with a comment in a nice way and maybe also politely point them to the search.

Also, as Jeff mentioned already (somewhere else), there is such as thing as good duplicates (and most duplicates are actually good ones). Once marked as such they point to the other question and therefore maximize the chance that people find it, even if they use other search terms.


Please note that certain close types get an automatic downvote from the community user:

  • off-topic
  • not a real question

I don't feel a duplicate question is deserving of a downvote, unless it is of extremely low quality and/or demonstrates an egregiously negligent asker.


Might it be possible to add to the WishList the facility for a suitably authorised person to merge a duplicate with the original, reopening the original if closed, in case further answers shed new light? This would notify the OP of the dupe that it was a dupe, and reduce the number of duplicate hits in subsequent searches.


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    Mods can already merge duplicates. But usually this isn't done. Duplicates make searching easier, not harder (they make the target for popular questions bigger).
    – Caramdir
    Commented Jun 29, 2011 at 15:05

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