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Duplicate questions are "solved" — it's clear what to do with them, there're tools to deal with them... but what happens when two users post the same answer? This happens a fair bit, particularly on questions with simple answers ("Click this button"-type ones).

Do we upvote both answers, since they are both correct? Do we upvote the first one (although if the answers were posted within a few minutes of each other, after an hour it's impossible to tell as they both show up as "answered 1 hour ago")? Do we upvote the currently highest voted one? Do we upvote one and downvote the other? Do we flag one (seems a little excessive)? Something else?

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It is possible to tell which was asked first, it has a lower number in it's permalink, it's just not easy to tell the difference. –  Brad Gilbert Jun 30 '09 at 14:04
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@Brad: You can also hover your mouse over the "answered an hour ago" text that appears above the user's name to get the exact time stamp the answer was posted. –  Bill the Lizard Jun 30 '09 at 14:27
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Heh, I've never noticed that timestamp before, despite using the site for.. err.. 10 months –  dbr Jun 30 '09 at 15:05
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You can also just sort by newest or oldest, and it should put them in the right order even if it lists "X hours" for both. –  gnostradamus Jun 30 '09 at 15:49
    
Vote for the one that is better. Even if their contents are identical, vote for the one that is more grammatically correct, has better formatting, uses markup instead of just plain-text, has a screenshot, and so on. –  Synetech Aug 15 '11 at 1:19

8 Answers 8

This is the age old Fastest Gun In The West problem.

Those who get the answer first should obviously be rewarded for their speed, but if there are instances where users post the same thing within seconds within one another, I will tend to upvote all of them. If it's within a few minutes, I will not be so lenient because that should have been enough time to review the already posted answers or load any new answers that were written during the construction of your own.

Seconds apart = close enough to reward both

Minutes apart = not close enough, fastest should get the upvote.

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But then there's still two answers that say the same thing. It would be best if we could merge them somehow. –  endolith May 16 '12 at 14:21

What about when the duplicate answers are hours apart? Take for example this question. Three answers all saying "PuTTY", but posted hours apart (actually one of those users has a habit of coming late to the party, posting the same things, or providing answers for the wrong platform)...

What is the correct ettique? A downvote? The answer isn't wrong, but the user hasn't read the thread (and I don't want to cut off my own rep on a - vote unless the other person really deserves it).

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Leave a comment about how there's an exact answer hours before theirs was posted. Shaming them to delete it perhaps. –  random Aug 21 '09 at 2:35
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This should be a comment, not an answer. –  endolith Jul 13 '11 at 0:55
    
This does not provide an answer to the question. To critique or request clarification from an author, leave a comment below their post. –  Martijn Pieters May 18 at 11:09
    
@MartijnPieters sorry but I don't see the point in starting to delete old answers in MSE. There are thousands of those, and in my opinion better let them be. :) –  Shadow Wizard May 19 at 17:49
    
@ShadowWizard: this was in the LQ queue and picked up too late it was this old. I'd have voted to delete without comment instead. –  Martijn Pieters May 19 at 17:55
    
I think it got to the LQ queue as result of NAA flag, not automatically. –  Shadow Wizard May 19 at 19:13

I started to comment on the later ones. This will encourage them hopefully to either withdraw or enhance the answer to add value. (if I can't see which is the later one, I prefer to comment on the underdog.)

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What kind of comment? –  endolith May 16 '12 at 14:21

I had this happen just yesterday (my answer happened to be first, but the other user got one upvote before me, so naturally his answer got the rest of the upvotes). As the duplicater (who lost the vote count) I just removed my answer.

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Periodically I go through my answers and delete those that have no votes. I leave the ones with up-votes even if they are very similar to other answers on the assumption that somebody found it useful so there must be something in my answer that's not in anyone else's. –  ChrisF Jun 30 '09 at 13:29
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@ChrisF: I generally don't delete my answers as long as they include some piece of information that others haven't mentioned. Even if they aren't up-voted. Otherwise, maybe. I'm lazy, though, and going through my old answers "...sounds suspiciously like work." (er... that makes more sense if you know "That sounds suspiciously like work." is my catchphrase) –  Powerlord Jun 30 '09 at 13:53

I usually wait a minute to see what user takes the effort to expand his answer. Then upvote that person. Or if someone comes along with an expanded well thought out answer.

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Personally I upvote the response which answers the question most completely and with the most detail (not always the same thing). If there are 2 responses which are simply "click here" with out any value added, neither get the vote.

I have on at least one occasion had my response trump 2 preexisting responses which were both technically correct, but not very useful. I believe this is because I included more background, a code example and link to further information.

That, IMO, is the type of answer that should be, and in many cases is the type of response that gets rewarded over time.

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Having just been 'second place' on an answer that was char for char identical (bar flags), separated by by 23 seconds, with consecutive answer ids. I wonder if there's any mileage in the answer submission action alerting the submitter to any answers that have been submitted since they started writing their own answer?

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The "1 new answer has been posted" banner should do this, although it only updated periodically. Not sure an on-post alert is terribly useful, as you can always just delete your own answer should it be a dupe –  dbr Aug 5 '09 at 15:05

This is the old topic, which wasn't active for a bit, but it is still actual.

The age old Fastest Gun In The West problem was mentioned. I've found the case, which is the exact opposite of it. In the question Get the size of a list in python? the answer was given, and two years after another question is given, which contains exactly the same solution, only the example code i a bit modified.

This questions brings nothing new to the topic, but because this is one of the most common learnen's questions, it got a few upvotes. Someone even is curious why it got any downvotes...

I've searched for 'duplicate answer' flag, but such flag doesn't exit. I've commended, flagged as requiring moderator attention and downvoted. Maybe a bit exaggerated, but the reputation from such answers is a stowaway effect.

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