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Q: How do you know when your question-asking site is broken?

A: When you get 104,003 questions for the President.

I applaud the Obama administration for soliciting online questions for the President’s online town hall. And they let us all see the questions that our fellow citizens (of the US and the world) were submitting. Excellent!

But if you get that many different questions, it’s pretty much guaranteed that you really got far fewer unique questions. If people can’t easily find the question they had, they asked it again. This dissipates the votes on the questions as well.

I don’t know how to fix it other than by manual intervention, or possibly automagic natural language processing, or some such. Or maybe you could show people questions like the one they just posed (through just a little bit of automagic NLP) and offer to let them vote for those questions rather than pose their own. This might cause some clustering around questions: Why ask “You, dude, when are you going to make pot legal? PS: You can come by our place in White Plains any time if you do.” when you’re shown that the question, “Do you support the legalization and taxation of marijuana?” already has 983,455 votes?

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