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I have been using/contributing to StackExchange for about a year. I have thus seen what must be a common phenomenon: the same, or very similar, questions coming up again and again. I know there is already some effort to avoid this, but it seems to me the site is in danger of just sprawling ever outward into a vast splodge of information which rapidly becomes hard to find.

I am guessing that there are already ideas and tools to restrain this, but then my question is: what are they and how are they used (beyond just valient efforts by patient users to point out duplicates)? I don't find it obvious from just scanning the site and using it. In particular, is there a quick way to locate answers I know I have seen (e.g. ones I have written) based on some search terms or something like that? Would it be possible for there to be a greater automatic linking of questions, and discouragement of duplicates? Would it be possible for the information stored in all the question/answer pairs to be navigable in some more intelligent way? (At the moment it feels like a heap, or a set of heaps under each tag term).

I apologise in advance if this question demonstrates ignorance; but in that case the knowledge I should have had is, perhaps, not very clearly available in the way the site is presented to users.

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  • $\begingroup$ Right now you have about 300 answers on Physics, which means that simply trolling through the list of your answers in your porfile is tedious but practical for finding your own answers. Of course, at the rate you've been going that will get more tedious and less practical pretty quickly. $\endgroup$ – dmckee --- ex-moderator kitten Nov 4 '19 at 17:29
  • $\begingroup$ see physics.meta.stackexchange.com/q/11050/36194 for some tips. $\endgroup$ – ZeroTheHero Nov 4 '19 at 22:50
  • $\begingroup$ I still swear by my tip in the post @ZeroTheHero posted $\endgroup$ – Kyle Kanos Nov 4 '19 at 23:56
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In particular, is there a quick way to locate answers I know I have seen (e.g. ones I have written) based on some search terms or something like that?

In the search bar start your search with "User:me" and then put in the key words you want to look for. It will reduce the search to just your posts. Additionally, if you know that an answer was written by a particular user who isn't "me," visiting someone's profile page prepopulates the search box with "user:NNNNN" that you can use for searching. You can also put "is:a" in the bar to search only answers or "is:q" to search only questions, if needed. More searching tips can be found here.

As for more general linking to questions, I'n not sure there is much to do beyond looking for duplicates. When you vote to close a question as a duplicate it already shows possible candidates. Also on the desktop version of the site there is usually a section showing similar questions. These measures, as well as possible duplicates popping up as a user makes a question, is all that can be done to discourage duplicates I suppose. I think the tour even specifies to search for duplicate questions before posting them? Ultimately there will still be users who do not want to go through the trouble of searching for something that answers their question and just post their question anyway regardless of what is thrown at them to prevent it.

As for grouping together similar questions/answers, I suppose one could make a post like the FAQ, but I feel like it would be harder to justify including certain things, and I feel like it might become unwieldy fairly quickly.

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    $\begingroup$ I've used this several times to find dupes I know I've answered before. Seems to work pretty well; especially since I know what keywords to search for my own answers usually. $\endgroup$ – JMac Nov 4 '19 at 17:45
  • $\begingroup$ @JMac Yeah when I found this it worked wonders haha $\endgroup$ – BioPhysicist Nov 4 '19 at 17:46
  • $\begingroup$ Thanks for the help; I ticked the "answer" tick since this answers the query about what is possible now. My suggested ideas for improved automation of question-spotting remain. $\endgroup$ – Andrew Steane Nov 5 '19 at 9:04
  • $\begingroup$ @AndrewSteane What ideas have you suggested? It looks like you are calling for a better way to navigate and group questions and answers, but I don't see any suggestions as to how that could be accomplished. Through the search tips mentioned as well as the suggested duplicates, key word searches, etc. it is a rare occurrence for me to not be able to find what I am looking for. At the very least, you could always just create your own sort of "directory" for personal use like Ben explains in the supplied link by ZeroTheHero in the comments to your question. $\endgroup$ – BioPhysicist Nov 5 '19 at 16:01

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