I define "vexatious questions"1 as a series of questions from the same user that are minor iterations on a theme or idea. The first question in the series contributed to worldbuilding. The rest of them are, for practical purposes, duplicates of the first and are not contributing to worldbuilding.
Periodically we encounter a user who asks the same basic question over and over. Some of the most heinous examples were abuses of the Anatomically Correct Series, but there are times when a user gets an idea stuck in his/her head and can't let it go. I'm hesitant to offer examples because I don't want to single anyone out.
While we all like lots of questions to be asked (see "mindless social fun," below...), the goal of Stack Exchange is to be a clearing house for useful information and our Stack Exchange Overlords would prefer that no stack be cluttered up with questions that don't bring value to the service. This is, indeed, the reason for the "duplicate" close reason.2 And each vexatious question subsequent to the first is (without explicit justification) a duplicate of the first.
I'm posting this query because there are potentially multiple reasons for this problem:
- This could be due to forgetfulness, meaning the user has forgotten the previous questions were asked.
- This could be due to intellectual "blinders" that keep the user from applying what they learned from previous questions to the current case.
- This could be due to a variety of obsessive-compulsive disorder.
- This could be a violation of the Help Center prohibition against mindless social fun.
In the past I've down voted the question and left a comment with a link to a search that lists the multiple questions along with a "what is different about this question that wasn't answered by the previous questions?" kind of statement.
In a handful of really egregious cases, I voted to close questions 2 through the last as duplicates of the first.
What should be our policy concerning vexatious questions?
Edit: In a comment to @IchtysKing's answer I made a point that I believe deserves to be repeated and expounded upon here. One of the goals of this Stack is to help people learn the process of building worlds. One measure of either our failure to teach that lesson or the user's failure to learn it is the presence of vexatious questions. Vexatious questions are fundamentally an abuse of Stack Exchange, but if they're not simply "mindless social fun," then they might indicate that a problem exists with the effort to teach and/or understand the process of worldbuilding (and the process of learning from the Stack Exchange experience). Senior users like myself need to make a conscientious effort to compassionately help younger users realize what we're trying to do. On the other hand, younger users would benefit greatly from meekly realizing they're not achieving a valuable goal. This post frankly focuses on the former, because (despite our hopes otherwise) we cannot control that latter.
1 It might be a little harsh to relate a series of fundamentally duplicate questions to the idea of vexatious lawsuits as there isn't any malice involved. But I'm doing it because the action is pestiferous.
2 I'm making this point because some users may think that I'm making a tempest in a teapot. Maybe I am. But if Stack Exchange didn't care about the number of low quality questions they wouldn't have a "duplicate" close reason and the value of each question added to a vexatious question list is lower than the previous.