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There are a handful of topics that are, each in their turn, ridiculously popular: tidally locked planets or moons, desert apocalypse conditions, theoretical evolution, are just a few. And locked within the WB:SE vault is, frankly, and absolutely astounding collection of insight, knowledge, and imagination. I'm regularly overwhelmed by the talent on this site.

And yet, people ask the same qeuestions in their infinite variations. And that's really the problem. With all due respect to Stack Exchange, its SEO for research, well... it stinks. Both here and on other SE sites I've searched for hours on a topic (especially at StackOverflow.com) without success, only to have my questioned tagged as a duplicate within seconds by someone who happens to know the one question I couldn't find.

This is usually solved with the "duplicate question" chaining, but here the problem is squared because people are usually researching different aspects of the same general topic.

People have asked before (e.g., HDE 226868's query about a canonical answer to habitability) about whether or not we should try to canonize the more popular query topics. In HDE's question, Michael Kjörling points out that the principal information presentation format of Q&A is unsuitable for creating what amounts to digests. I understand what he's saying completely, as I once created a roll-up of answers and the mods/reviewers hated its existence, prefering the duplicate chains to solve the problem instead (which highlights a weakness in the duplicate chaining process: you actually need to do it and that's a lot easier said than done!)

TL;DR

Can a means of indexing, digesting, or canonizing questions be developed that is either practical to find or that would improve the SEO results? I doubt that we have access to the search engine to improve how it handles word roots and context binding, but possibly...

Create a separate set of pages that allow participants-of-a-certain-reputation to create and/or maintain topic-vs-Q lists (which would substantially help the SEO intelligence).

An example of what I'm thinking about:


Tidally-Locked Worlds

Diurnal Cycles

Binary Stars and Planets

Etc.


I'm aware that this is a manual solution and that it would depend on the dedicated attention of participants. I'm also aware that, without that attention, the lists would become stale. I'm hoping their value outweighs these potential threats. Is there a better solution? Or, are we doomed to have so much of the site's potential remain locked up in search engine purgatory?

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  • $\begingroup$ This sounds a fair bit like Stack Overflow Documentation, which was recently discontinued after a relatively brief beta period... $\endgroup$ – a CVn Nov 13 '17 at 19:42
  • $\begingroup$ Oh, rats! 12345 $\endgroup$ – JBH Nov 13 '17 at 20:04
  • $\begingroup$ @MichaelKjörling yeah, but SE Documentation was actually discontinued because it ended an overcomplicated mess due to the rep-reward mechanisms being not designed with mindless-human-rephunters in mind. This proposal seems more like a mechanism to catalogue subjects and question - e.g. a huge index $\endgroup$ – dot_Sp0T Nov 13 '17 at 20:48
  • $\begingroup$ @dot_Sp0T, correct. I'm just looking to make it easier to find the relevant bits from the mountain of information on this site. When I test-searched for "tidally locked dirunal" I didn't find questions I knew were there. $\endgroup$ – JBH Nov 14 '17 at 16:34
  • $\begingroup$ @JBH have you tried google site search? $\endgroup$ – dot_Sp0T Nov 14 '17 at 16:39
  • $\begingroup$ @dot_Sp0T, Specifically, I've run a few tests using the search field on WB:SE and I've run a few tests running Google. I haven't tried a search test using Google's Site Search, but it may be a moot decision as it was discontinued in 2017 and will shut down completely April 2018. There are options, but I'm not sure I want to invest that much effort into it. $\endgroup$ – JBH Nov 14 '17 at 17:10
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On an ad-hoc basis, you could have meta posts listing good posts like that for some subject, just as with “series” questions. And then reference that meta post in the tag description so people know about it.

I've also written Q's (or edited to generalize) to become a canonical version, that dups can point to.

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  • $\begingroup$ A self-answered Q will likely be the the only solution, but only if the community approves as it circumvents various bult-in features like the duplicate system. I don't think Meta comes up in Google or on-site searches, does it? In which case it's only connection is the tag reference, which too few people read. $\endgroup$ – JBH Nov 14 '17 at 16:36

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