I see a lot of people asking duplicate questions (including me). So should we create one page to list the most duplicated questions so that it can prevent it more effectively than commenting on every duplicate question.

An example is here


My feeling is that good canonical questions will (or should) naturally "rise to the top" by virtue of upvotes. This is clearly in the spirit of SE, but in practice, given the number of duplicate questions we see, the process falls short.

For the purposes of MP&T, would it be appropriate to use our Meta site to "promote" questions as canonical?


An appropriately time-limited trial run to see if the process is workable/manageable.


There would be a set of guidelines/requirements for upvote-worthy canonical questions (for the trial run perhaps dictated by the moderators, but ultimately developed by the community). I suggest, at minimum:

  • A base number of related questions (say, 10)
    • Of the canonical questions I've attempted, one links 3 related questions and one includes 13. So the 3-question question would not be eligible for Meta-promotion, but the 13-question question would.
  • Canonical question must contain a block of links to related questions
  • Would still be subject to typical question criteria of being too narrow / too broad / too opinion-based, etc.
  • Adherence to a (community-determined) higher standard of editing/formatting; possibly even a "canonical" format.
  • Relates to a minimum number of tags to up the chances of being found by answer seekers (suggest: 4)

The Meta "promotional" post would then look something like this:

TITLE: Canonical question proposal for {topic such-and-such}


I've just posted the following question {link here}
with the idea of its serving as canonical for {a commonly asked subject}.
If you find it well constructed and well suited to its purpose, please upvote.

A list of related questions can be found in the post

Posting on Meta would allow for discussion of the merits of the canonical question, suggestions for improvement/refinement, arguments for a different question as the canonical one, etc., keeping that out of the canonical post itself.

  • Dear Aaron you described it better than me thanks. – Nabla Sep 1 '20 at 7:05
  • This would be a very good use for the meta. – Dom Sep 1 '20 at 15:28
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    Thanks, @Dom. Should we understand your comment as a go-ahead, or as a "let's discuss further"? – Aaron Sep 1 '20 at 16:34
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    You can do this as you see fit. Meta is open to everyone to suggest changes in policy and how to handle duplicates like this. – Dom Sep 1 '20 at 17:02
  • Another suggestion for quick suggestions is our chat. It's a little bit empty in there, but this could be a good use of it and get more users in it. – Dom Sep 3 '20 at 3:42

Generally most SE sites have found that listing the most asked questions is not really the best approach. It can help, but the best approach is building a list of canonical questions, tagged and written appropriately, to be close as duplicate targets.

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    Do we have a list of canonical questions? I ask it because I could not find it anywhere yet. Maybe I did not see it. If there is no, I think It might be a good idea to create one. – Nabla Aug 31 '20 at 12:16
  • @Nabla we have many, many questions that can be canonical. Typically when canonical questions are brought up on SE it's just a common core question that can be a good target for duplicates. There's not really a good place for lists of questions. Some SEs put it in the tag wiki, but it's not super visible. Keeping the tagging consistent and locating specific examples of questions that need a canonical question would be a good first step. – Dom Sep 1 '20 at 1:33
  • Dear Dom thank you for your answer. Some days ago I saw a post which explains X/Y chords on guitar. It was not a question but intended for explaining. I do not know If we have that chance on SE but I imagine something like this: If we create a post which lists canonical questions and then show it in question asking screen as "you might want to check this list" (Not sure If we can do it or how can we). – Nabla Sep 1 '20 at 6:12
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    @Nabla There's not a good visable place for that as described. The combination of tagging, closing duplicates to a canonical answer, and editing the title to help searches should help. Keeping things in tag wikis or meta is possible, but it's another place to upkeep information and I'd rather start by focusing on making questions more findable and cleaning them up so users can find them easier. – Dom Sep 2 '20 at 3:10

I would suggest making the "similar questions" prompt when you first post more visible, inclusive and strident.

  • Could you post an example of what you have in mind as strident? – Aaron Sep 2 '20 at 21:50
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    @Aaron Something similar to the prompts when you post a question that the algorithm says will be closed. – pro Sep 2 '20 at 21:55
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    Ahh. So once a question is deemed "canonical", it would be edited to add a prominent notice. I can get behind that. – Aaron Sep 2 '20 at 22:03
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    We're really need to fix up the titles of the questions before we can consider that as that's how the similar questions work in general. One reason I feel that there are so many similar questions is we don't clean them up and use the proper terminology so all searches can find things easier. – Dom Sep 3 '20 at 2:07
  • @Dom does SE have tools that could help automate that a bit? I'm thinking of chunking candidate questions together for review. What would your clean up process look like? – pro Sep 3 '20 at 2:32
  • This isn't really something that is scriptable. There may be some tools in Data SE that can help aid and some advance searching to find things, but the community needs to work towards this together. For example, in this answer you can see that all the question titles as is are very different, but still all deal with the same question of multiple voices in sheet music. The question then becomes how do we improve the titles to better show us and new users what the question contains. – Dom Sep 3 '20 at 2:52
  • This is another example on the front page: music.stackexchange.com/questions/20449/…. I am about to edit it to make it more finable. And ironically after editing it I see it's a duplicate – Dom Sep 3 '20 at 3:37

If people are asking duplicates, they still need to be closed, and the close-as-duplicate pattern still needs to be able to work.

I'd suggest building, in meta, a list of good, well-upvoted 'does-this-answer-your-question?' targets for commonly-asked questions, such that people wishing to close-vote a question they know to be common have good, well-upvoted questions to hand as links to put in the "Is a duplicate of:" textbox.

Those answers would then themselves start to organically become the answers to FAQs, rather than anyone needing to make a separate FAQ - and question askers won't themselves need to look for an FAQ as well as learning to use the site in the standard way.

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