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Duplicate posts on Ask Metafilter?
March 27, 2012 10:09 AM   Subscribe

Sometimes I see posts that are very similar on Ask Metafilter. That got me wondering: is there anything done about duplicate posts over there?

Okay, I'm relatively new on Metafilter. I am still kind of figuring out how things work.

I know that, on the Blue (see, look how expertly I use Metafilter terms) a duplicate post is usually nipped in the bud and deleted.

There are four "moving to NYC" questions on the first page of Ask Metafilter right now. They're all a little bit different (and NYC is a big place, and each asker has their own particular concerns) but it got me wondering. Are there ever any deletions from Ask Metafilter for identical questions? More identical than the "moving to NYC" ones that are currently up...I'm thinking, "Who was that actor in such-and-such" questions that only have one answer.

Also...is posting questions that are really similar to ones that are current frowned upon?

I didn't see anything in the FAQ that answered my question. Thanks.
posted by Elly Vortex to Etiquette/Policy at 10:09 AM (41 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

We delete occasional duplicates but since, as you've pointed out, true duplicates are rare. What we usually like is if it's clear that the OP at least tried hunting around in the archives and explained maybe why the batch of questions that have been asked already don't answer their question or what else they want to know that they can't find.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 10:13 AM on March 27, 2012


If you think an AskMe post is a duplicate, flag it as "double post". If a post gets enough flags the mods will take care of it.
posted by tommasz at 10:14 AM on March 27, 2012


But...special snowflake!
posted by Burhanistan at 10:15 AM on March 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


We're generally pretty permissive about posts on the green that aren't literally duplicates of a there-is-one-clear-answer question previously asked. Which means that in practice very few questions get deleted as doubles. ("What is this one Ray Bradbury story" and "why did people use dashes for names in older literature" are a couple of the rare recurring examples I can think of that we have deleted.)

Mostly it comes down to the reality that even folks asking fairly similar questions will have slightly different needs or expectations or mitigating circumstances in their asking situation. We don't have such a need to avoid duplication that it's worth it in our eyes to nix questions for simply being similar.

That said, we very much encourage folks to search before asking and to review previous questions on the same general subject as what they're considering asking about. Doing that bit of work up front can sometimes get you an answer before you ask, which is great. It's what happens to me at least half the time when I'm considering asking something, and I know others do this as well a lot.

But that's not enforceable, and folks who do search thoroughly will still have their own qualitative analysis of how answerable their query is vs. how answered-or-not it has been historically. So we basically trust folks to do a decent job of this and accept a bit of duplication on some subjects, especially over time where the same question asked a couple years apart will have a reasonable chance of producing a different crop of answers because things change in the interim.
posted by cortex (staff) at 10:15 AM on March 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


Metatalk thread about duplicate questions in Metatalk in five ... four ... three ...
posted by jacquilynne at 10:25 AM on March 27, 2012


Metatalk thread about duplicate questions in Metatalk in five ... four ... three ...

dangit . . . foiled.
posted by Sassyfras at 10:25 AM on March 27, 2012


("What is this one Ray Bradbury story" and "why did people use dashes for names in older literature" are a couple of the rare recurring examples I can think of that we have deleted.)

However, as a quirky bit of site lore, if your answer is "The album cover for 'The Court of the Crimson King' by King Crimson," that question will not be deleted even if it is a word for word double. Because questions with that answer need to be asked on an ongoing basis for the universe to remain in balance.
posted by Meatbomb at 10:29 AM on March 27, 2012


oops, sorry, forgot
posted by Meatbomb at 10:32 AM on March 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


I almost posted this exact same thing. Is google broken today?
posted by OsoMeaty at 10:32 AM on March 27, 2012


I think we should have a rule that every "where should I live in NYC?" entry have at least one outrageously unreasonable request:

"I want to live in a doorman building, but the doorman has to have a B.A. in either Linguistics or Philology."

"I have an unlimited rent budget, but the building must be at least a 15-floor walk-up."

"I want a really diverse neighborhood, so it's important that the dead rise from their graves at least once a year. Preferably, every other month, but I know that's asking for a lot."

"Due to a health condition, I need to live above a Chinese restaurant and below a Mexican restaurant. (My doctor says that Ecuadorian or Peruvian might work.)"
posted by griphus at 10:34 AM on March 27, 2012 [28 favorites]


"Due to a health condition, I need to live above a Chinese restaurant and below a Mexican restaurant. (My doctor says that Ecuadorian or Peruvian might work.)"

Turns out, I lived in just such a place in 1985 on 17th St near 3rd Ave.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 10:39 AM on March 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


So why did people use dashes for names in older stories? And, more importantly, what was that Ray Bradbury story.
posted by DU at 10:44 AM on March 27, 2012


"why did people use dashes for names in older literature"

I didn't know I needed to know this until just now, but now I really need to know this. Site searches are only turning up this thread. Or, on preview, what DU said.
posted by smilingtiger at 10:45 AM on March 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


I didn't see anything in the FAQ that answered my question.

The FAQ says:
With few exceptions, there is no such thing as a doublepost in AskMe although users should generally search prior questions before posting to determine whether a very similar question has already been asked and answered.
If you think an AskMe post is a duplicate, flag it as "double post".

Actually, you probably shouldn't do that, since there are almost never double posts on AskMe. See above.
posted by John Cohen at 10:48 AM on March 27, 2012


The dash thing was to give the illusion of reality, as newspapers of the time used dashes when discussing real people to avoid the risk of libel suits.

I don't know what the Ray Bradbury story was.
posted by Sidhedevil at 10:54 AM on March 27, 2012


Search for for the names question without quotation marks around it, and you get this: http://ask.metafilter.com/72590/Why-censor-town-names
posted by decathecting at 10:55 AM on March 27, 2012


All Summer in a Day, by Ray "Of Sunshine" Bradbury. Previously, Previously, Previously, &c.

Redacted character names in 19th C. fiction. Further. Even further. I'm at the Taco Bell. I'm at the Pizza Hut.
posted by cortex (staff) at 10:56 AM on March 27, 2012 [7 favorites]


There is a Frequently Asked of MetaFilter page on the wiki. Don't forget the creepy puppet! His name is Joshua.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 11:10 AM on March 27, 2012 [7 favorites]


I came for the possible flameouts by duplicators, yet I stayed for the sheer lack of proper punctuation and (more importantly) The Court of the Crimson King.
posted by item at 11:19 AM on March 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


Home & Garden

Q: What is this spider and is it going to kill me?
A: Spider ID

I got such a laugh out of this. I don't know why.
posted by OsoMeaty at 11:20 AM on March 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


Don't forget the creepy puppet! His name is Joshua.

hey shut up
posted by cortex (staff) at 11:26 AM on March 27, 2012 [7 favorites]


I recently went to a restaurant where you could pick out your puppets and the staff would kill and cook them, like lobster.
posted by Burhanistan at 11:32 AM on March 27, 2012 [4 favorites]


Q: What is this spider and is it going to kill me?
A: Spider ID

I got such a laugh out of this. I don't know why.


Oh, god, the best part of that is the Huntsman's Spider. I was seriously doubting my sanity for a brief moment.
posted by adamdschneider at 11:36 AM on March 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


O, Burhanistan, I want to see someone do that with mimes.
posted by Sidhedevil at 11:49 AM on March 27, 2012


I presume the blank spaces on the AskMe FAQ are Wittgensteinian in nature? (14.2 and 14.3, I mean.)
posted by Sidhedevil at 11:51 AM on March 27, 2012


House of Stairs, William Sleator (1974)
posted by Rock Steady at 12:11 PM on March 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


adamdschneider: " I was seriously doubting my sanity for a brief moment."

I'm glad I wasn't the only one!
posted by Grither at 12:12 PM on March 27, 2012


There is little opportunity to be original on the subject of Duplicates, or to be profound.
posted by octobersurprise at 12:15 PM on March 27, 2012


I'm curious how good we would be at scenting out an exact duplicate... like a repost. How far back does our collective memory go?
posted by smackfu at 12:25 PM on March 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


The thing that gets to me are the people who post over and over again about the same terrible relationship that they need to get the fuck out of. OH MY GIRLFRIEND IS STILL READING MY MAIL WHAT SHOULD I DO? The same thing we say every time; end things with Controlling McInappropriate. OH NOW SHE HAS CALLED MY BOSS TO CHECK IF I WAS REALLY WORKING LATE WHAT SHOULD I DO? Gee, if only someone had an answer to your problem. SAY GUYS I'M THINKING OF GETTING MARRIED TO THIS LADY BUT I AM NOT SURE BECAUSE OF THE TRUST ISSUES I like pie! SO I'M GETTING A CONTENTIOUS DIVORCE HOW COULD I HAVE ANTICIPATED THIS Obviously there is no possible way.
posted by Sidhedevil at 12:36 PM on March 27, 2012 [8 favorites]


Where is this dramatic MetaFilter Sidhedevil?

I think my meatyfilter needs recalibrating.
posted by Packed Lunch at 12:46 PM on March 27, 2012


I know that, on the Blue (see, look how expertly I use Metafilter terms)

You are doing well, but as per Burhanistan you need to incorporate "special snowflake" into your term list.

On a more serious note, one of the big differences between the Blue and the Green is that the Blue is meant to be kept fresh for your enjoyment. AskMe is more about utility for the askers, so unless the questions are almost completely identical they're going to get left up.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 12:58 PM on March 27, 2012


Hey, I'm using the tools of theater, not the tools of journalism! [/Mike Daisey]
posted by Sidhedevil at 1:33 PM on March 27, 2012 [4 favorites]



"I want a really diverse neighborhood, so it's important that the dead rise from their graves at least once a year. Preferably, every other month, but I know that's asking for a lot."


Ah, the Upper West Side then.
posted by The Whelk at 1:51 PM on March 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


[/Mike Daisey]

Oh man, MetaTalk is giving me some LOLs today!
posted by OsoMeaty at 2:43 PM on March 27, 2012


adamdschneider: "Q: What is this spider and is it going to kill me?
A: Spider ID
I got such a laugh out of this. I don't know why.

Oh, god, the best part of that is the Huntsman's Spider. I was seriously doubting my sanity for a brief moment.
"

Cute. Except Huntsman spiders in the US are obviously a pale imitation of those here. From the link above - 'the diameter of an adult including legs may reach 2"'. From here - 'Body lengths: 2 cm (female), 1.6 cm (male); Leg span: up to 15 cm' (that's a touch under 6"). Now that's a spider!
posted by dg at 2:50 PM on March 27, 2012


Photograph smiling
What if
New word phenomenon
Embarrasment for someone else
Batshit insane
Toe nibbling cats
Card signatures
Trapping cats
Oh my!
Canker sores
Sad songs
posted by unliteral at 4:25 PM on March 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


Before anyone asks - Yes, work is very slow today.
posted by unliteral at 4:27 PM on March 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


cortex writes "('What is this one Ray Bradbury story' [...] rare recurring examples I can think of that we have deleted.)"

Aww man; Really? I love seeing this question get posted. It was interesting how many different ways people remembered that story and yet how little variation there was.
posted by Mitheral at 6:04 PM on March 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


> Huntsman spiders in the US are obviously a pale imitation of those here

From that link: I live in tennessee. how am i finding these things
posted by The corpse in the library at 7:17 PM on March 27, 2012


My experience with Huntsman spiders is that you don't find them. They find you.
posted by dg at 12:50 AM on March 28, 2012 [2 favorites]


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