"Possible duplicate" warning after the first vote to close as a duplicate, is a new behavior. But it has some side effects:

  • it does not appear as an action in the revisions list of a posting,
  • the user who provided the link to the alleged duplicate is not identified
  • the time at which the duplicate warning was added to the question, is not given

Previous methods of indicating a possible-duplicate question were visible and attributed to individual users.

This is the first feature that allows a hidden user action to alter the display of a question beyond ticking a counter (upvote, downvote, comment vote, page views).

Looking there I see a debate and explanation of the new behavior, but not an explanation of why the user actions are hidden. If the design goal is to maintain the temporary shield around close voters, then the banner should not derive from a vote to close, but from a "send public warning of possible duplicate" option, with the latter equivalent to a visible edit. –  zyx Feb 16 '13 at 13:51
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2 Answers

The reason stated by SE for this feature ( http://meta.stackoverflow.com/a/166548 ) is contrary to the lack of attribution and the invisibility in the Revisions list. In the old system, editing in a link would have been a visible action performed by an identified user at a known time and this action would be present in the Revisions history of the question.

So I add the (bug) tag to the question for now.

It is also clear that an anonymous takeover of the top of a question allows for many hacks. –  zyx Feb 16 '13 at 12:07
Pushing duplicates to the front page was a side-effect of old manual method. There is no reason now to clutter front page with potential duplicates: votes to close get consideration in the review queue instead. Hence, there is no reason to replicate the bumping behavior. // The reason for invisibility in the Revisions list is that it is not a revision of the post, but a system-generated message displayed within the post. –  user53153 Feb 17 '13 at 1:13
What makes it a revision is that the system-generated message is user-authored open ended content that rewrites the top of the question. Before this, the only anonymous actions that affected the display in any way were single +1 ticks on any of the vote counters connected to a question. –  zyx Feb 17 '13 at 2:06
"user-authored open ended content"? Users voting to close are not typing in "This question may already have an answer here:", in fact they cannot prevent this message from appearing when they vote. This does not match my idea of user-authored content. // As for anonymity, you only need to look down at the comments to see the auto-inserted "possible duplicate of" -- this is the comment that came with the first vote to close, same vote that triggered the banner display. –  user53153 Feb 17 '13 at 2:32
On the other hand, I believe one can delete the auto-inserted "possible duplicate" comment if one wants to remain anonymous. –  Rahul Feb 17 '13 at 3:05
The first voter can place almost any text as a banner into the top of the question, by writing or editing a question title, and claiming that as a duplicate. It is also possible to assert all sorts of associations to not necessarily related material, and insert those questionable claims as passive-aggressive notices of the top of question. Like Twitter, it is an art form of its own, and far more expressive than incrementing an up/down vote counter. It is a major philosophical departure from past practice, to have this functionality hidden and anonymized. –  zyx Feb 17 '13 at 23:07
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After much discussion on Meta.SO (which would be the better place for this thread, by the way) a StackExchange developer announced that

As of the latest build, only the question asker will see the banner while a question is still open - it will be hidden from everyone else. After closure, everyone will see it.

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