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!)
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:
Binary Stars and Planets
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?