I'm still fairly new to the Workplace community and with the amount of questions amassed through this site's history, I have honestly no way of knowing whether a new question is a duplicate or not at first glance, and would most likely find out only after I'd already given an answer.

My question is, should I check first if a certain question I find interesting is a potential duplicate before answering? And if so, how do I go about doing it?

  • I'm not sure if you have to, but if you do, the "related" in the sidebar is a good start. – Belle Oct 25 '18 at 6:22
  • I'm really just wondering if answering a question that I didn't know was a duplicate is still a good thing or is directing the OP to a much earlier existing version of their question and marking theirs as a duplicate much better? – Noir Antares Oct 25 '18 at 6:26
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    Somewhat ironically, this is an almost exact duplicate of Should we refrain from answering duplicates?, though I don't think the linked question covers how to go about finding duplicates. But that's basically just "use the search function", not sure if there's more to say on that. – Lilienthal Oct 25 '18 at 11:31
  • If you have a good answer to a question, just answer it. There are plenty of enthusiastic folks who like to close questions. – Joe Strazzere Oct 25 '18 at 12:11
  • @Lilienthal I'd say there's a slight difference in the two questions. The one you link is asking whether you should answer when you know it's a duplicate. This question is asking whether you should always go looking for duplicates before you answer a question. – David K Oct 25 '18 at 12:20
  • @DavidK Hmm, true. I'm wondering then if this shouldn't be two questions though. Q1 is a useful discussion to have on meta, Q2 is more practical and less about discussion. – Lilienthal Oct 25 '18 at 12:33

My opinion is that if you come across a question that you are able to answer, and you are not personally aware of any possible duplicate questions out there, then go ahead and answer the question.

As an answerer, you shouldn't feel obligated to search for duplicates of every question you come upon. That is something the asker should be doing, and to a certain extent you should trust that they have already done that. If there is a duplicate out there that you don't know, someone else will likely find it and mark it. You shouldn't feel bad if a question you answered ends up begin marked a duplicate, since you acted in good faith and were not aware of the other question. At that point you can even go read the answers on the other question and see how your ideas match up.

As you get more experienced here and start to read more and more questions, you will begin to see new questions that seem very familiar, or seem basic enough that you would be surprised if they hadn't been asked before. That's when I might go in search of a duplicate - only when I already suspect that one exists.

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    Totally agree on this one. It's better to use your time answering than searching and searching to see if there is a duplicate out there... – DarkCygnus Oct 25 '18 at 15:15
  • Also, in the 30 seconds you spend searching for duplicates, the question has probably been closed – Kilisi Oct 26 '18 at 2:23

The easiest two ways I've seen to find duplicates are:

  1. Just copy/pasting the title into a new question box
  2. Googling the title and using site:http://workplace.stackexchange.com/ whatever the title is here as the query parameters

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