I'm creating an app that basically saves links (URLs), resulting in a list of links.
I'm deciding on what to do with double entries, a link the user is trying to save that is already on the list.

I came up with two potential options:
1. Show a message the URL is already saved and do nothing
2. Add the entry to the top of the page and remove the entry as if it's a new entry

The most straightforward option is option one. But I'm thinking going for option number two. My reasoning is that the user has forgotten he already added the link sometime earlier. He thinks he is adding a new, unique link and his expectations are accordingly. My idea is to keep him in vain and not confront him with an error that kind of leaves him hanging, leaving him to search for the link wherever on the list. There will be a search functionality, but my fear is it will still leave the user with some frustration.

I've thought about combining the two. Give the user an error message and move the existing entry to the top (where new entries are added). But what then, the entry is added, kind of like the user expected, and an error is thrown. I think it's like saying to the user "it worked, kind of. You did something wrong, but it worked".

I think I'm in search of some validation. Or perhaps some other ideas.
This conundrum has proven to be quite hard to test in this stage of my project. I have no real users yet and I don't think I can make a test subject enter a link, forget he entered it, and let him try and add it again.

So. Am I on the right track with this or am I missing something?

2 Answers 2


This will depend on what will the user generally expect, if a repetition is alright or something the user must acknowledge. In your case it looks like the user should at least know the element is already there.

My suggestion is to warn the user and ask him for confirmation to include or not the element again. This way you warn the user of the repetition but still let him go on if that is what he prefers. After either selecting Confirm or Cancel, denote (in some meaningful way) where the old element is in the list and the new one if it was finally added.

  • Confirmation. That's an option I didn't consider yet. It doesn't immediately jump out to me as THE solution, but it's a good one to also consider. I'm thinking I'll just have to decide and monitor it as a potential issue. Thank you though. Feb 12, 2017 at 18:28
  • @PaulvandenDool I hope it can help to achieve a solution. The idea is not to decide for the user, let him know and decide.
    – Alvaro
    Feb 12, 2017 at 18:33

To be honest, and without further testing, I'd probably go with Alvaro's suggestion.

However, reading your case a couple times, I'm thinking about this: you mention one of your options is to add the link to the top of the list and do nothing. And this is something I wouldn't do. But after re-thinking it, I believe this could be a great solution.

Think about this: you say the user may be adding a duplicated URL because she forgot about it. So, by all means, the URL didn't exist for the user. Asking for confirmation on something she wasn't aware of may provide more friction than benefits, since the confirmation won't add anything to her experience, exception made of an additional step. On the other side, your solution gets rid of this step AND it adds the URL to the top of the list automatically.

In short: your second option seems like a great idea, but again, it needs to be confirmed by additional testing

  • Nice to read your answer :) But I'm not sure I agree here. I think that the fact that the link doesn't exist for the user in that moment doesn't consider that there might have been thought when the link was added before. The link might have had a certain order, might give useful information of the context it is in (before/after certain element), the fact that the link was added might have some other connotations, etc. This will depend very much on the app context, though.
    – Alvaro
    Feb 12, 2017 at 21:39
  • That would be exactly my reason for going for option two. My intended purpose for the app is just an extended version of a clipboard. Save a link to revisit it some other time and maybe on an other device. But that doesn't mean it will be used in that way. Alvaro raises a valid concern that the context and perhaps surrounding links might be of value. But what are the chances... and it's very hard to simulate. I'll need to think on this Feb 12, 2017 at 22:11
  • @Alvaro, that's why I said that I would go with your answer, and even upvoted it. It just seems to me it would be very interesting to measure the OP's scenario. I agree with the context part, but on the other hand, in my personal experience, I bookmark pages every day, but in the end, only use the last ones I bookmarked. From time to time I check my bookmarks and then see a page I have bookmarked and I totally forgot about it, so putting new URLs on top of the list may make sense
    – Devin
    Feb 12, 2017 at 23:39
  • Sometimes there is not a single answer, and your points are very valid too even if I don't absolutely agree, (I upvoted yours too :) ). Now, as you say this is true in most of the cases. But sometimes when I add an item, that I didn't notice was there, and the system tells me, I stop look at it an realize why and when I added it. This way I can see how if I have that link already it implies I have it saved in that other list, etc. This is for sure not the most common scenario, though.
    – Alvaro
    Feb 13, 2017 at 9:04

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