I have been in this site for quite a long time. However recently, I saw a lot of duplicate question at the main site and they will mention that they can't find the duplicate of their question. So, I want to ask what are the search guidelines to determine for possible duplicate.

  • $\begingroup$ It always takes up some Google fu to find stuff out. Don't read too much into them not finding anything, since most of the time they didn't even try. $\endgroup$
    – M.A.R.
    Commented Jan 10, 2016 at 8:05
  • $\begingroup$ On another note, the search tips are always there$\ldots$ $\endgroup$
    – M.A.R.
    Commented Jan 10, 2016 at 8:07
  • $\begingroup$ There are some who didn't effort, I agree. But some may try to do so. $\endgroup$ Commented Jan 10, 2016 at 8:17
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    $\begingroup$ Identifying duplicates is not always easy. Sometimes you have to just be around and know that a question like this has been asked. Then it takes still some skill to actually find the question on the SE network. Unfortunately here are many questions closed as duplicates, because the answer is related to the question. This should not be the case. For duplicate closing only the question itself is important. $\endgroup$ Commented Jan 10, 2016 at 8:17
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    $\begingroup$ The search tips are always there, and so is Google. Anything we answer might not be as much of help as any of them. $\endgroup$
    – M.A.R.
    Commented Jan 10, 2016 at 8:18
  • $\begingroup$ So you suggest using google first, then ask the question here without trying to look into the possible duplicate past question? $\endgroup$ Commented Jan 10, 2016 at 8:21
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    $\begingroup$ Part of the problem is that questions here (particularly homework-type ones) often have lousy, non-descriptive titles, which make them extremely difficult to find via a simple search. This question, before I edited it, could not be found via searches for "alkane/ene/yne acidity", "sp sp2 sp3 acidity", "hybridisation acidity", or anything reasonable like that - trust me, I tried. It wasn't even tagged with acid-base. [...] $\endgroup$ Commented Jan 10, 2016 at 11:26
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    $\begingroup$ [...] so, sometimes if you are unable to find a duplicate of the question you want to ask, it is not always your fault. However, that doesn't mean you shouldn't at the very least try to find an answer somewhere on the Internet (there are so many freely available sources of information, not just chem.SE), or in a textbook, or in a journal article (if applicable). $\endgroup$ Commented Jan 10, 2016 at 11:28
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    $\begingroup$ You can ask in chat if there was such question, if you can't find maybe someone else will do it. $\endgroup$
    – Mithoron
    Commented Jan 10, 2016 at 17:18

1 Answer 1


How to discover answers or duplicates

  1. Search in Google for certain keywords in your question.
  2. If you didn't get answers from 1, search in Google for certain keywords in your question including site:chemistry.stackexchange.com
  3. If you didn't get answers from 2, (these two steps are replaceable) search in here for one/two/three most important keywords in your question.
  4. If the list is too long, include tags in your search.
  5. If you didn't get the answer from 3 and/or 4, try Ask Question.
  6. Do not ask your question right away! Type the title of your question. A clear title which optimally would include your main question.
  7. Take a look at the section Questions that may already have your answer. Read the ones you think are relevant.
  8. If you didn't get the answer from 7, type in your question and submit it; then take a look at "related questions".
  9. If you didn't see the question you were looking for immediately in 8, then there's at least a 90% chance your question isn't in the duplicate orbital.
  • $\begingroup$ This is really detail $\endgroup$ Commented Jan 10, 2016 at 10:18
  • $\begingroup$ It's also a massive pain in the neck. No wonder people don't search for duplicates: it's a labor-intensive, apparently nine-step process, with a lot of trial-and-error searching in multiple places. $\endgroup$
    – hBy2Py
    Commented Jan 12, 2016 at 16:02
  • $\begingroup$ @Brian Yes, but usually one has tried steps 1/2 or even 3/4 by oneself. By the time one reaches step 5, the links turn up and I (personally) look at them thinking ‘is that relevant?’, so in essence, they’re all just common sense. $\endgroup$
    – Jan
    Commented Jan 18, 2016 at 13:49
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    $\begingroup$ @Jan I guess I just need to invest the time to get facile with the SE advanced search. The basic search seems almost never to work well for me. $\endgroup$
    – hBy2Py
    Commented Jan 18, 2016 at 14:00
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    $\begingroup$ I would like to add, that while a question you find might be related and probably contains the answer in a (maybe not so obvious) form, it does not make the questions duplicates. || Sometimes it is beneficial to include a few links that you found due to this process and leave a short statement why they don't address your question - this way you avoid that other users point you to things you have already seen and also avoid that it will be closed as a duplicate. It also helps the answerer to judge what you already know. $\endgroup$ Commented Feb 3, 2016 at 4:31
  • $\begingroup$ What @Mart's saying is that we should optimally be choosing dupes according to the question, not the answers they get. $\endgroup$
    – M.A.R.
    Commented Feb 3, 2016 at 9:51

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