On the Discourse forum I use, we see a lot of duplicate posts, and it really is showing on thread about a new feature.
There are currently 54 posts on the thread. A staff member on post #17 listed all of the known issues regarding the feature. If the topic is summarized, it’s only 11 posts and the summary includes #17. After post #17, we’ve averaged 1 every 6 posts where someone has complained about something listed under “known issues”. If we don’t include the “That was already mentioned in post #17” replies, it’s 1 in every 4 posts. The staff members could (and should) edit post #17 into the original post, but that’s not the problem we’re looking at here. The problem is that people aren’t taking a couple minutes to read the thread before posting, and that results in both a lot of duplicate posts that make the thread hard to follow and circular discussion.
I posted a topic on the forum as sort of a call to action for moderators to start deleting these duplicate posts (maybe by editing them to be [Duplicate Post] so the poster knows why it was deleted and then leaving the poster to delete it themselves), but other users of the forum said “You shouldn’t try to program people’s behavior” and “People would stop posting because they’d be afraid to risk being moderated”. I don’t see the deletion of duplicate posts as any different from deleting personal attack posts (in both cases you’re just deleting destructive posts), so I’m not sure I follow on the programming behavior point. Regarding the scaring people off because they fear being moderated, my outlook is that they’d have nothing to fear if they read the thread before posting and good riddance to any posts lost due to people not wanting to read the thread because their lack of effort would have likely reflected in their posts.
It’d be one thing if people didn’t read a 200 post thread, but the topic in question isn’t that long and the Discourse software estimates it’d only take four minutes to read the long version, and it’d be significantly shorter if someone read the summarized version, so there’s no excuse for people to not read this particular thread in its entirety before posting.
I’m wondering: are the fears of behavior programming and posting scare off without merit, or are they actually an accurate estimation of what would happen if duplicate posts started being deleted? If those concerns are real, what would be a better way to deal with duplicate posts?