# downvoting because of duplication?

This question has five downvotes, and was closed as a duplicate of a question with 25 up-votes. Should one down-vote a question merely because of duplication? There's no mention of anything wrong with the question besides duplication.

Later note: Maybe this will help clarify things: I think in some cases it is appropriate to up-vote a question and also vote to close it as a duplicate.

• Actually it's 7 downvotes & 2 upvotes. I was also shocked by the amount of downvotes. – user2468 Aug 22 '12 at 22:21
• Is it really hard to know why? Perhaps it is simply that the a$\dots$s are in the majority? There is subtantial evidence of that from other fields. Why should mathematics be immune? – André Nicolas Aug 26 '12 at 0:51
• I have removed the first sentence of your "later note" because it was quite impolite by MSE norms. Please be nice to fellow users. – Bill Dubuque Aug 26 '12 at 20:03
• @user Why have you edited this question? – postmortes Apr 19 '19 at 11:48
• @postmortes I have no idea. It was done not intentionally. My mobile phone was hanging and probably I pressed a wrong button. Can it be back rolled? – user Apr 19 '19 at 12:16
• @user sure, done :) – postmortes Apr 19 '19 at 12:21

One of comments was "This is easy to google". If entering the title of question into Google search returns an answer in one of top results [which is the case here], I'd be tempted to downvote the question as unnecessary and not showing due effort on the OP's part. (As a matter of fact, I did not downvote this one).

• I know "This is easy to google" wasn't your comment. Anyways, my reply to this: I like to think that people ask duplicate questions because they're confused, not because they can't Google it (some people of course). – user2468 Aug 22 '12 at 22:20
• There are usually several different correct answers to a mathematical question. Discouraging to post a question just because it's easy to find an answer on the internet may not be a good idea. – Makoto Kato Aug 22 '12 at 22:23
• @JenniferDylan Duplication aside, one could reasonably say that the question does not show any research effort. Which is one of the suggested downvote reasons listed in the tooltip over the downvote arrow. – user31373 Aug 22 '12 at 22:25
• @LVK but in this particular instance, OP actually had done some thought; s/he had some faulty logic about $0$ having "nothing" to divide out. But I agree with you. When I click downvote, it's mostly because of what the tooltip says. – user2468 Aug 22 '12 at 22:27
• To clarify, I guess Leonid is not arguing that something answerable by google is never acceptable as a question. But then there should be something not easy to find and an explanation: "What is a Wafflegroff? - Blah, blah. I've seen the definition on Wikipedia, but the definition is too abstract for me. Can someone give me a concrete example..." – Michael Greinecker Aug 23 '12 at 13:27
• @LVK Google bubbles and tracks the search now to personalize them and so referring to the 2nd entry on your google search is not feasible now. I am not commenting on whether you were wrong or right in the above case. Just wanted to point out this particular point. – user14082 Aug 27 '12 at 11:13

Duplication is a red herring.

I speculate that the quality of the question writing is the primary motivator for the down-votes. If the fact it is a duplicate has any relevance at all, I doubt it's more than simply being the final straw that tipped one or two people over the line from not caring enough to finally pressing the arrow.

Alex Becker, at least, has confirmed this is the reason for his vote in the comments.

I have to admit (and hate to think it might be true) my suspicion is that one reason for the astounding downvotes in this particular case may be that this particular poster has drawn attention to him an a rather unlucky way, by posting questions some members here consider as not appropriate and target for downvoting and voting for close, in particular when the education of that poster (which he indicates in his profile) is taken into account (this last remark is extracted from the comments to some of the posts from that person).

As an example, in another thread one of this members questions was closed with the reasoning that it is "not a real question", which, if you look at the explanation to that reason for closing a posting, does in no way apply to the question asked.

I do get the impression (and I'm unhappy about it) that some people here sometimes tend to react out of some prejudice they acquired by previous postings of someone else -- or even other sources -- and downvote or vote to close out of some automatic state of annoyance, without looking in detail at the particular question they react on.

This is one of the reasons that I'm also unhappy with the fact that downvoting is anonymous (voting for close is, luckily, not). I rarely downvote and if I do, I take pains to make clear and transparent why I do this. I actually consider anonymous downvotes of questions as cowardly (my view with regard to answers is a bit different here ;-).

• as mentioned in my reply, I consider anonymous downvoting a cowardly action. This applies to meta, too. I intend to delete my account, this is not a place I'd like to contribute to anymore. – user20266 Aug 25 '12 at 20:40
• Thomas, with all due respect, if you leave every structure where some people behave badly, you're not going to have much of anywhere to go. I hope you'll reconsider. Stay and fight! – Gerry Myerson Aug 26 '12 at 0:16
• @Thomas: You are absolutely right, count on me for support all the way, including leaving if necessary. – André Nicolas Aug 26 '12 at 1:05
• @Thomas: I do not consider anonymous downvoting "cowardly". I think too much effort currently is spent discussing downvotes. If a downvoter has a constructive comment, they should leave it, but at the same time if they feel that no further comment is needed they should not feel obligated to leave one. – Carl Mummert Aug 26 '12 at 2:27
• @CarlMummert : If one down-votes without saying why, one may fail to communicate anything at all to the poster, who may have no idea why the posting was objectionable, when that might be easy to explain. And, as I noted in my comment on your own answer in this thread, you are badly in need of finding out what this present thread is about. I agree with you that duplicationis a valid reason for closing. But that's just off topic. That's not what this thread is about at all. – Michael Hardy Aug 26 '12 at 18:05
• @Michael There are sometimes valid reasons for downvoting without comment. For example, if someone continually posts very low quality questions or answers, and if you've already once downvoted with explanation, and the author disagreed, or argued, etc, then it can be nonconstructive to continually leave further such comments. Doing so could lead to arguments in comments, which is not healthy for the site. If the author is not receptive to constructive criticism then anonymous downvotes might be the only reasonable way to proceed. But I think one should first attempt constructive criticism. – Bill Dubuque Aug 26 '12 at 18:53
• I don't usually down vote just because of duplication but, rather for other reasons. Note that if the reasons why I am down voting are already stated in the question comments by other people, I don't see any need to repeat them, so I might then do an anonymous down vote. However, I generally try to leave a comment first (e.g., asking to show work). If within a reasonably period of time nothing happens, I then might down vote. – John Omielan Feb 18 '19 at 20:34

I feel duplication is a valid reason for closing. We do not need to have 8, 15, or 100 copies of questions such as "why is 0 even?". We do need to have at least one good answer to the question. Once we have a collection of one or more good answers, closing future duplicate questions points everyone to the answers that are already given. That gives them faster access to the good answers and prevents duplication of effort when others might spend time posting the same answers. Of course anyone who wants to post another answer can still do so on the original question, and if they want a clarification about a specific point they can write a more detailed question that is no longer a duplicate.

• The question was about downvoting, not closing. To keep the spirit of the discussion, I downvoted your answer. – user31373 Aug 26 '12 at 2:35
• Now I'm confused. – Carl Mummert Aug 26 '12 at 2:38
• I've also down-voted this off-topic answer. I agree with it, but it's off topic. – Michael Hardy Aug 26 '12 at 18:01
• I'm still confused. Surely, if it would reasonable to close a question, it is not unreasonable to merely downvote it, and certainly not unreasonable to downvote at the same time as the vote to close? I can guess that someone could think downvotes and votes to close are completely independent, but I personally would not vote to close a question and also vote it up. When I vote to close I might leave the vote alone, if I think it is accurate, or vote down, if the vote is too high compared to what I think it should be. – Carl Mummert Aug 26 '12 at 21:16
• I think part of the issue is that people may think that downvotes are for "bad questions", but I do not view them as such. Downvotes are for questions that, for whatever reason the downvoter wishes to de-emphasize in their current form, while votes to close are for questions that should be even more strongly de-emphasized. I view SE voting as a communal form of simulated annealing in which editors can try to shift the emphasis toward some questions and away from others. – Carl Mummert Aug 26 '12 at 21:20
• If it is reasonable to close a question, that does not make it reasonable to down-vote it. On the contrary, I think I've voted to close some that I've up-voted, and I'll probably do so on future occasions. – Michael Hardy Aug 26 '12 at 22:34
• We will have to disagree on that, I am afraid. I think it is worth pointing out that (1) votes to close expire quickly, while downvotes do not; and (2) users with insufficient rep cannot vote to close or see the vote count, even if they want to vote to close, but they can downvote. – Carl Mummert Aug 27 '12 at 0:26
• If they want to vote to close, they can post a comment saying the question should be closed. I think you neglect the fact that badges labeled "nice question" and "good question" are awarded to those whose questions get enough up-votes, and also add to their reputation, whereas down-votes detract from their reputation. In other words, we are counting a person disreputable if he posts a good question that someone else posted ten minutes earlier. Thus the person who posts ten minutes earlier is judged differently from the later poster. – Michael Hardy Aug 27 '12 at 2:59
• I don't view the reputation issue as a significant problem in this setting. If someone else beats me to asking a question, I don't think it is unfair if they get credit for it instead of me. I also think that "10 minutes" is not the typical delay between duplicate questions. – Carl Mummert Aug 27 '12 at 10:12
• .....and besides, down-voting by someone who cannot vote to close obviously does not make it known that the person who down-voted thinks the question should be closed. How would anybody know that that's what it means? Posting a comment that says "This question should be closed because of this reason and that reason" does make it known. You propose that those who can't vote to close should be provided with an alternative means that doesn't work, when they already have an alternative means that does work. – Michael Hardy Aug 29 '12 at 1:34
• I think that editors who cannot vote to close typically downvote and leave a note that they think the question should be closed. A comment alone doesn't have the effect of de-emphasizing the question, as may be desired. If you still don't understand the point I am making, I apologize. I don't think I have the ability to be more clear, so I will exit the thread now. – Carl Mummert Aug 29 '12 at 10:46
• @CarlMummert : Up-votes and down-votes are supposed to evaluate the question. The effect on the "reputation" of the user is secondary but real. A good question that is a duplicate should be closed as a duplicate and up-voted because it is a good question, thereby informing the audience that reads it that the question is considered worthy of attention by the community. – Michael Hardy Aug 29 '12 at 16:38
• BTW, ten minutes is not unrealistic in the case of homework questions. Classmates' purposes are sometimes similar to each other. – Michael Hardy Aug 29 '12 at 16:39