Not post-specific, rather general policy, but I will use two posts as an example:

A recent question asked: What is this aircraft that has flown over my house all day?

To which I voted duplicate for: Is this a C-17 (and why is it here)? And the asker agreed hence the "Community ♦" vote.

I voted based on both posts (photos) having similar angles to the same plane (a C-17).

But a comment said:

I disagree that this question is a duplicate. One cannot search based on just an image on SE, you can only search text. Given that a person asking to identify an aircraft inherently does not know the name of the aircraft, how can they be expected to find a previous post asking about a C-17?

To which I replied:

And that is why humans are involved, and not a search robot (note that OP agreed it solved their question). The other extreme is having 10 distinct questions for the same aircraft-identification, say a 747 – does not make it right.

So far there are two views, please discuss and vote below (using answers please, so they can be voted both ways).

From personal experience, although I'm not sure if policy driven, duplicate voting based on photos alone is allowed on EarthScience.SE. And I'd imagine the same for species-identification on Biology.SE. (This comment is to highlight that it would not affect only Aviation.SE, so perhaps we can draw from wider-site consensus.)

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    $\begingroup$ Thanks, I was also considering posting on Meta about what to do with these posts :) $\endgroup$ – zymhan Mar 5 '19 at 20:11

Drawing from similar tags here, feature-identification questions are closed as duplicate (asker also not knowing the feature's name; 15 occurrences).*

I don't think aircraft-identification should be any different.

* I'm guessing more than 15 (mods can help) because abandoned-closed are automatically deleted (?).

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    $\begingroup$ duplicates are never automatically deleted. $\endgroup$ – Federico Mar 6 '19 at 6:03

One option: Given the constraints of the site, and the desire not to have a constant stream of "what is this plane" posts, we should prohibit such posts.

I can't think of a way to make it easy for a user to search all of the posts and compare their photo, given the non-photo oriented nature of SE. We don't have any sort of way to view photos from multiple posts all at once, as far as I am aware. Therefore it would be overly burdensome to expect each person to check every previous "aircraft-identification" post before posting themselves. If it is too burdensome to search previous posts, and we allow "aircraft-identification" posts, then we may start clogging up the front page with requests.

I definitely don't like the idea of banning the posts, but I feel that flagging it as a duplicate, while accurate, may be discouraging to new users. Obviously banning the posts is even more discouraging to those users, though, so I'm conflicted on the best course. But I felt I should at least present this option.


A danger here is what happens when there is a disagreement on what the aircraft is.

The vote as duplicate system could be used to prevent others posting different opinions, bypassing the normal up/down vote system.

If it is very obvious and the OP agrees I think it would be safe to close as duplicate, though if there’s any doubt or dispute it should stay open.

  • $\begingroup$ IMO for that worst case scenario, the same reopen mechanism would apply. An edit to be made to clarify how the supposed duplicate isn't. $\endgroup$ – ymb1 May 9 '19 at 11:20

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