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Olin posted this canonical question on selecting power supplies. But apparently neither askers nor some answerers (me!) always find their way to it, c.q. remember it.

Should we promote our canonicals more? Like listing them up with the other question suggestions, on top of the list and in another color? Other suggestions?

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  • \$\begingroup\$ I don't have a good answer either. I often know I've answered something similar before and have to dig around and only sometimes find it. That particular one is easy, at least for me. It's on the summary page of my profile since it's only one of two questions I've asked. \$\endgroup\$ Jul 25 '12 at 17:38
  • \$\begingroup\$ Ah, and I also know what the other question is! :-) \$\endgroup\$
    – stevenvh
    Jul 25 '12 at 17:40
  • \$\begingroup\$ I agree - we need to make the top answers (especially to regularly asked questions) as visible as possible. There seem to be the same duplicate questions over and over again - probably not completely unavoidable, but it can probably be improved somewhat. \$\endgroup\$
    – Oli Glaser
    Jul 26 '12 at 12:55
  • \$\begingroup\$ As a stop-gap measure it would be possible to make a pseudo-question as community wiki in which links to canonical questions are collected. This would make it easier to find individual questions and keep track of them all. It should then become easier to close questions as duplicates with a helpful reference. - A function that seems to be used very sparely at the moment. \$\endgroup\$
    – ARF
    Aug 7 '12 at 13:47
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For the person asking the questions, I suspect that a lot of it is "I'm not sure that applies in my case." While they're asking very basic questions, some of these users have basically no electronics experience. I suspect that would be an issue if the users were actually able to see the reference question when they were asking their question. But.....

The canonical question often doesn't show up in the "Suggested Duplicates" window when you are writing your question!! There are a lot of other questions that are suggested before the canonical question, but none of them have as high of a question score (or even close). I only got the canonical question to show up once in the window, and even then it was near the bottom. This is a significant issue, and may need some clarification/suggestions from SE developers/staff so that these questions are recommended more often and higher up in the list.


For the answering side of things, I'll admit that I mostly rely on a feeling of deja vu. Remembering great answers and questions can be done with marking the question as a favorite. I make a habit of checking the "Related" sidebar on the right side, but even then it doesn't always make good suggestions.

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Given the vast amount of duplicate questions on the site, I think the related detection logic and display needs some updating to make the question asker as aware as possible of their existence, especially the "top rated" answers.

A bold colour and placed at the top for the canonical type or top rated answers would be a good idea.
If there is almost exact match for 1 or more questions, and the user has not visited those pages, then maybe a popup with the matches displayed and a message such as "we found these previous answers - please check to see if they answer some or all of your question before posting" could be an idea.

If the user does decide to ask a question, a text input related hints/tips/suggestions box underneath the question input might be a good idea too.
For example if the user types "power supply", the box can display hints about how to ask the right question (e.g. mention DC/AC, power rating, voltage, etc)
If the user enters "a relay", then hints can be "part number? datasheet link? coil rating? switch rating?" or something like that.

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