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When should one add another answer instead of editing one's already posted?

Users are discouraged from treating SO like a forum and it is expected that one would update and improves his only answer instead of posting a new one. So why is it possible to add a second answer? Has anyone seen a question in which multiple answers by same user have been better than a single updated one?

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marked as duplicate by Gilles, jonsca, Toon Krijthe, jadarnel27, Al E. Aug 1 '12 at 15:53

This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question.

2 Answers 2

up vote 18 down vote accepted

"Never say never", that's a fitting phrase here.

Although usually you're correct and it's not a good idea for the same person to post two different answers, there are "edge cases" that do justify this.

For example if someone came with two different solutions to the same problem: each solution is on its own, each with its own upsides and downsides, and both solving the problem/question 100%.

Posting each as new answer is better practice as it allows the community to rate each solution independently.

Can't find any example right now, but I'm pretty sure such things exist already.

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Yes, this is a viable use of the feature (which didn't occur to me). Probably, examples are hard to find because the community does not take liberty to use it for this purpose and users pack alternative solutions into a single answer. –  Majid Fouladpour Sep 11 '11 at 10:37
    
Cheers! This specific example is hard to find because it's rare that the same person come with two full and different solutions.. it happens, but rare. :) –  Shadow Wizard Sep 11 '11 at 10:44

Preventing users from adding multiple answers would result in:

  • less answers, because you should not mix different answers in one, or
  • confusion due to several answers in one, because it raises questions to which part of the answer the votes apply or which part of the answer has been accepted.

Both are not desired.

Sometimes you just have several answers to the same question, for example:

  • This one for stating several options to the original question and this one for being the specific solution to an edit to the question,
  • This one for recent IDE versions, and this one for older versions,
  • This one and this one both for being completely different approaches which lead to the accepted answer in which both were combined,
  • This one and this one also both for being different approaches, each having its own vote count,
  • This and this one,
  • ...

Those multiple answers can be found by looking at the answer count (when more then one) which is added to the question title in the user profile answer summary:

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