What's the thing to do in a situation where rather than improve their question someone has just asked the same question again lightly disguised? The case in point is formed by these two:



I can't vote to close the second question as a duplicate of the first, because the first doesn't have any answers yet. However, the second question is a duplicate and what the OP is doing is an abuse of MSE and of the people who commented on the first question.

(The answer to Can I ask the same question twice? suggests that the second question can be closed as a duplicate, but I don't see how I can instigate that if the first question has no answers, and I don't want to gratify the OP with an answer to the first question before they've bothered to address the comments.)

  • 3
    $\begingroup$ I would flag for mod attention. It is possible to close a question as a duplicate of another one asked by the same user, even if the first didn't get any answers; but here there are two different users asking questions, even if it's probably the same person. They are (perhaps unknowingly) circumventing the system, and so this requires mod attention (I think they can merge account, and they can definitely close questions). $\endgroup$ Oct 25 '15 at 18:42
  • $\begingroup$ It looks to be the same user to me (math.stackexchange.com/users/283671/jb28). I will take your advice and flag the second question to the moderators. I wonder why it looks to you that the two questions had different posters. $\endgroup$
    – Rob Arthan
    Oct 25 '15 at 18:47
  • 20
    $\begingroup$ In this case, I'd cut them some slack. They first asked from an unregistered account, and when registering apparently lost access to the unregistered account. If you're new and don't know how things work, re-asking the question from the new registered account appears like a good idea. $\endgroup$ Oct 25 '15 at 18:51
  • $\begingroup$ @DanielFischer: OK. In this case, we seem to have two accounts with the same display name. I didn't know I had to check the full URL of the user account. This seems to be a misfeature of the MSE software to me. (How do you know this is the same Rob Arthan as asked the question or commented on Najib's comment?) $\endgroup$
    – Rob Arthan
    Oct 25 '15 at 18:56
  • $\begingroup$ Here, to see you are you, one just needs to notice the pale grey background of your user name. The OP's user name is highlighted in that way in comment threads. Generally, hovering over the user name to check reputation and/or account number often helps without visiting the profile. (For example, we have two "Mike Miller"s, and hovering is how I distinguish between them in comment threads if I need to.) $\endgroup$ Oct 25 '15 at 19:05
  • $\begingroup$ By the way, I've deleted the first question from the unregistered account. $\endgroup$ Oct 25 '15 at 19:10
  • 4
    $\begingroup$ Thanks for the tip and for tidying up the situation. I will spend much more time hovering suspiciously in future $\ddot{\smile}$. $\endgroup$
    – Rob Arthan
    Oct 25 '15 at 19:19
  • 4
    $\begingroup$ @DanielFischer: I'd be more willing to cut slack if the user hadn't also deleted his comments to the old question, AND if he hadn't also reposted the question as a pure PSQ even after the now-deleted comments revealed that he had trouble understanding one of the terms in the problem. That smells to me like he merely wanted to get rid of the comment thread in order to maximize the chance of getting a pre-digested solution rather than an explanation that would enable him to solve the problem himself ... $\endgroup$ Oct 26 '15 at 8:01

There are different scenarios for somebody re-asking the same question, and different reactions are appropriate.

On the one hand, we have the relatively harmless case that a new user first posts a question without registering an account, and later registers an account and loses access to the old account. In that situation, for somebody who doesn't yet know how everything works here, re-asking the question from the new account looks like a sensible option. And if the old question had no answers yet, it isn't really a terrible option. They can then respond to comments at the new question, and in case they get an answer there, later accept that. Typically, that happens at most once per new user.

A different kettle of fish is when a user repeatedly asks the same question (with or without deleting the older version) because they didn't get an answer quick enough, or because the first (and maybe the second …) incarnation of the question was downvoted. If a relatively new user does that, a comment explaining that that isn't done may be enough, but if somebody does that several times, such behaviour should be flagged.


You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .