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I have a question to Drupal Answers I know I have seen it already. I'm almost sure it was on topic and answered, but I can't find it, no matter what. I find close questions, with different technology tags (ie 6 vs 7, form-api vs webform), but not the one I'm sure I've seen.

Maybe I'm mistaken. But if I ask and I'm not mistaken, I'll get punished for duplicates, and that's not what I want; it would be a waste of mine and mods time. But if I don't ask, site will not get possibly interesting question and I will not get my answer. So, I'm kinda stuck.

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  • Did you ask the question by the way? If so could you provide a link? I'm not looking to close it or anything, but I might have seen the post you can't find at some point and be able to dig it up :)
    – Clive Mod
    Commented Jun 6, 2013 at 12:25
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    @Clive actually no, I didn't. My pal from that particular project worked it out in a meantime so I didn't bother. And it turns out that answer for 6 was valid except some renaming, and I must have a moment of mind blindness ;)
    – Mołot
    Commented Jun 6, 2013 at 12:28
  • Food for thought: blog.stackoverflow.com/2010/11/… Jeff (maybe it was Joel) has another article about this, but I can't find it right now.
    – mpdonadio Mod
    Commented Jun 11, 2013 at 14:40

2 Answers 2

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You just need to get rid of the notion that getting a question closed as a duplicate is "punishment". It is only hygiene, making sure that the answer pool stays pure.

Sometimes, doing a diligent search may fail. It has happened to me as well. I see no harm in then asking the question, where you start out with a disclaimer similar to this:

This may be a duplicate, since I vaguely recall seeing this before. However, diligent search has not located the original item, so I will proceed to ask this question. If somebody know that this is indeed a duplicate, please tell me.

That way, you may either get a new answer (if you mis-remembered), or you enlist the awesome crowdsourcing power of the DA community to locate that elusive duplicate.

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  • It's hygene, but it also substracts from reputation and gives downvotes. But I guess I'll try anyway, thanks.
    – Mołot
    Commented Jun 6, 2013 at 7:14
  • I think the downvoting inpulse should be mitigated by saying up front that you're aware of the possible duplicate, and have performed a diligent search. Commented Jun 6, 2013 at 7:21
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    Closing as duplicate doesn't incur any (automatic) downvote penalties. I don't think many people downvote duplicate questions, unless perhaps it's been answered dozens of times and would have been found easily; then they might for a lack of research effort. But that's clearly not the case here. Adding a disclaimer isn't the right thing to do IMO, not in the question anyway. That would be meta-data to the actual question, and users are encouraged to edit out such things. Related question on meta.SO today: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/183300 (read the comments & 2nd answer especially)
    – Clive Mod
    Commented Jun 6, 2013 at 12:23
  • I would not call "I vaguely recall seeing this before" extraneous "fluff" (to quote the meta-answer you link to). It is information that may help locate a duplicate that may even have an excellent answer already. SE is not only about Q&A - it really about locating the best and most relevant answer about a specific topic. If the route to the best answer is to encourage the community to conduct a crowdsourced search, I think this is an equally valid approach as asking for a new answer. Commented Jun 6, 2013 at 12:41
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    @GisleHannemyr I see where you're coming from, but attempting to invoke crowdsourced searches is definitely not what SE is about. Questions need to stand in their own right, and a note saying "I'm sure I've seen this before..." doesn't actually add anything to the question, in fact it distracts from the main content. The purpose of a question body shouldn't be an attempt to encourage others to find a duplicate, rather solely to answer the question as presented. The close/duplicate situation is a separate parallel process, and eventually dups will be closed/merged organically anyway.
    – Clive Mod
    Commented Jun 6, 2013 at 18:35
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Closing a question as duplicate is never a punishment for who asked it; it is rather a way to concentrate the efforts of answering in a single question.

If you searched for the question and you didn't find it, then ask your question. If somebody points out the question has been asked, you can look at that question and see if it is about the same topic you are asking. If it is, you can vote to close your question; if it is not, you can make clear your question is not a duplicate (i.e. differentiate your question from the other one). In the case the solutions proposed for the other question don't work for you, you can point out that. (Something similar to "I have tried what suggested in [link to the other question], but none of the solutions works for you." would work.)

I would avoid adding any disclaimer about a question you think to have seen, for two reasons:

  • Disclaimers about something that is not related to the problem to solve put at the beginning of a question should be avoided; that is true also for disclaimers like "I am a Drupal newbie." The users who read the question should immediately see the question; that is the reason why hi, hello, or similar words are removed from the questions. Time ago, Jeff Atwood added a script that would remove such words from existing questions.

  • The disclaimer could potentially have the effect of getting the question down-voted.

As side notes:

  • Asking a question that is a duplicate of another question is not wasting moderators' time. Moderators don't actively look for duplicates every time a new question is asked. It could happen that you ask a question that duplicates a question already asked from a moderator or a question a moderator just read; in those cases, the question could be closed from the moderator, if the questions are blatantly duplicates.
  • As long as you ask questions that are on-topic, and you don't have behaviors that are dangerous for the community, you should not be worried about your reputation. If you were worried about your reputation, then you would never ask a question, since a single up-voted answer would not allow you to delete your question, which could be then the target of down-votes. (Contrary, you are always able to delete an answer of yours that receives down-votes, except when it is locked; in the case it is locked, the answer could not get voted too.)

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