Lets say there are two answers with the same content on the same question. Should the second one get flagged? This has happened to me, and I sent a flag. Want to know if it was the right thing to do.

EDIT: example The two answers are the same with the one that was created second having some screenshots added (this does not make it a different answer IMHO).

  • @soandos i saw two different answers, or is it just me? – bubu Jun 1 '11 at 6:05
  • @bubu Right. There are two different answers, but they say the same thing. the only difference is one has pictures. – soandos Jun 1 '11 at 6:06
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    it was posted about 10 minutes later. I'd imagine taking the screenshots and consolidating them would take that time. I don't see why it should be flagged. Personally, I prefer @Simon's answer. – Sathyajith Bhat Jun 1 '11 at 6:14
  • @Sathya who is Simon and what did he say? – soandos Jun 1 '11 at 6:18
  • @soandos you shoud have a look at who posted the other answer. – Sathyajith Bhat Jun 1 '11 at 6:30
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    @Sathya Sorry, didn't realize you were referring to the subject of this. So in the future, if I see an answer there, but it has poor formatting, it is OK for me to take it and better format it and post it as my own (here he could have done it himself as you said, but for arguements sake)? – soandos Jun 1 '11 at 6:34
  • @soandos - No, In that case make use of suggested edits. Refer to my edited answer. – Sathyajith Bhat Jun 1 '11 at 6:43
  • @Sathya - I am not going to do this, but would it be wrong for me to take his pictures and slot them into my answer? – soandos Jun 1 '11 at 6:47
  • @soandos in this case, yes it would. – Sathyajith Bhat Jun 1 '11 at 6:48
  • @Sathya - I assume because despite the fact that its formatting and not its plagiarism (effectively) or because the answers truly are indistinguishable (or both)? – soandos Jun 1 '11 at 6:50
  • @soandos - It's a mix of both. – Sathyajith Bhat Jun 1 '11 at 6:58
  • @Sathya - Thank you for clarifying. – soandos Jun 1 '11 at 6:58
  • You're welcome @soandos – Sathyajith Bhat Jun 1 '11 at 7:02

Depends. If the answer was posted within few seconds(in your case, it was within 10 minutes) it's completely up to the OP to delete it, or have it remain with information which will make it better than the one posted.

I don't see how this is a problem unless it's something like the same answer copy+pasted over an hour or so later. I wasn't the one who handled your flag, but I'd have marked it invalid if you asked me to remove the post.

My point is given the timeframe of the specific question, it's reasonable to assume that both of you started answering at the same time. In general, if you see a bad answer, edit it. If you don't see an answer and while posting you were beaten, answer it, take a call to see if your answer can stand out on it's own.

  • I wrote the following: "Seems exact duplicate of answer already there. Not sure if that is a problem but it seems reasonable that that is a problem." and put it under other. – soandos Jun 1 '11 at 6:19
  • I don't mind having a flag marked invalid, it was more that its the same answer. Even if (and this has happened to me a lot especially on SO) as I was writing the post someone else posted before me saying the same thing, I don't see the point in continuing. It creates two answers with no meaningful distinction. – soandos Jun 1 '11 at 6:21

Here's my 2 cents:

If posting screenshots clarifies one answer over the other, and both are posted within the same time frame, then I'd see no problem with them being duplicates of each other in terms of content. Don't forget that many questions can be immediately answered by people who know what to do and why shouldn't they, after all? Also, questions that are easy to answer often result in only one possible answer.

If the duplicate answer was posted hours later, then however I wouldn't appreciate this myself if I was the first one to answer.

But: Don't forget that SE is also about the better answers getting more upvotes. If you can make an answer stand out by being more detailed, adding screenshots, clarifying things, then why should it not be here? If this answer happens to include the solution that is already there, but extends it and adds a significant amount of details, why not?

If I go through answers and there are two, one having answered the problem immediately but in a short manner, and one having clarified the steps even further, I'd probably give both of them votes.

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