I moderate a site where users Ask and Answer questions. There is a duplicate flagging feature which needs 5 users (as it does here) to mark a question as a duplicate.

Users also get "Seconds" (the points system) for good answers from the community upvoting.

So it's better for the community to flag duplicates, but there is no incentive for individual users to do so. They could either answer it (and maybe get upvotes) or close as a duplicate and gain nothing.

I don't really want to just offer "Seconds" for flagging as that could lead to spam flagging and users gaming the system, but I also want users to want to mark questions as duplicates correctly.

How can I find a balance so that I reward users who mark as duplicates but prevent the system being gamed by incorrect flags?

  • consider exploiting fatigue, like dupehammer feature does at Stack Exchange. Users who answered thousands questions on particular topic are more likely to recognize "yet another one" and are less likely to hunt for "seconds" yet again. Give them elevated dupe close power and let them handle that
    – gnat
    Commented Nov 21, 2015 at 20:09
  • @gnat Hmm that's a nice idea. The only issue is in the meantime (right now this is a small community and there is nobody at the level I'd want)...
    – Tim
    Commented Nov 21, 2015 at 20:13
  • I see. Another neat feature at SE you may find worth considering is giving asker an option of binding dupe close when they agree with suggestion
    – gnat
    Commented Nov 21, 2015 at 20:59
  • The answer will depend on the context of the community. The answer I'm thinking of depends largely on whether the community is large and spread-out, or small and close-knit?
    – user35
    Commented Nov 23, 2015 at 18:16
  • @Emrakul It is likely to transition from the latter to the former.
    – Tim
    Commented Nov 23, 2015 at 18:59

1 Answer 1


gnat has identified two options that have been shown to work on Stack Exchange.

The first is the "dupe hammer" where someone with proven knowledge of an area can close a question as a duplicate with a single vote - they can also vote to reopen with a single vote too in case they change their mind. As you point out this only works with a fairly large community and/or one with a large number of questions.

The second is informing the asker that they might have asked a duplicate once one or more people vote/flag to close the question as a duplicate. This allows askers to cast a deciding vote should they agree, and it also (hopefully) teaches them to search in future.

One other suggestions that has been raised (but not implemented) on Stack Exchange several times is to remove the reputation (or "seconds" in your case) from answers posted to questions that are subsequently closed as duplicates. The idea behind this is to discourage people from answering. The main drawback with this that I see is that it's a stick rather than a carrot.

Even with the loss of rep/seconds people may still find it easier to answer than close as a duplicate as it can be hard and/or time consuming to go hunting for duplicates. If your system can automatically identify possible duplicates you could present this list to people trying to answer in the same way that Stack Exchange presents possible duplicates when you ask a question. This removes a big barrier to closing - the effort needed to find the duplicate.

  • Why would you say sticks are undesirable? They drive users away?
    – Tim
    Commented Nov 23, 2015 at 21:53
  • 1
    While people do avoid behaviours that "hurt" them (loss of reputation/seconds is a hurt) they respond better to rewards/carrots.Even with the loss of rep/seconds people may still find it easier to answer than close as a duplicate.
    – ChrisF
    Commented Nov 23, 2015 at 21:59

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