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Is this a bug? Or is it a feature by intent of StackExchange engine, specifically, to allow a user to answer the same question twice?

A question on Writers.StackExchange (beta): Referencing a website using Harvard style

Answer 1: http://writers.stackexchange.com/a/1830/2358
Answer 2: http://writers.stackexchange.com/a/2120/2358

Same user, slightly different dates. First was on 1 Mar 2011, second on 22 Mar 2011. Both are good answers, in fact, different parts of a total response. I suggested an edit that would merge them, has not yet been reviewed by moderator.

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Try answering a question twice, and see. –  Brad Gilbert Dec 19 '11 at 0:23
    
@BradGilbert Clearly, it can happen, as this user did what I described (answered the same question twice). I just want to know if that is a bug or not. I searched but couldn't find any other references to it. –  Ellie Kesselman Dec 19 '11 at 0:27
    
I just found this meta.stackexchange.com/questions/109152/… which was not a particularly satisfying answer. I also wonder about the reputation aspect, as both answers are correct in this case, and might get up voted separately, resulting in "inflated" point values. Or user confusion? It just doesn't seem like a good idea. –  Ellie Kesselman Dec 19 '11 at 0:31
    
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I guess a user can also comment a question twice :) In relation to this situation I made a suggestion, to not add up the scores of answers to the same question in user stats (meta.stackexchange.com/questions/39097/…). P.S. Interestingly, I see now that this suggestion was actually implemented! –  Daniel Daranas Dec 19 '11 at 9:42
    
@DanielDaranas Thank you for the link trail and updates! That is good about the up votes in the user stats not getting inflated, in instances of dual answers blahblah. I thought I was being OCD in even mentioning it, but you were way ahead of me. I feel so validated here... ;#) –  Ellie Kesselman Dec 19 '11 at 21:45

2 Answers 2

up vote 10 down vote accepted

Sure, you can even answer the same question 42 times if you're so inclined. The system does warn you about providing multiple answers to the same question, however, and suggests that you edit additional information into your existing answer.

multiple answers warning dialog

There are some cases where someone might be able to provide multiple answers, each of which can stand alone as a distinct, valid response, so there's no particular reason for the system to prevent them from doing so.

However, what appears to have happened in this case is that the user posted answers on two separate questions which were subsequently merged, resulting in very similar answers on a single question. Given that, the content should likely be merged together as you've tried to do, and one of the answers deleted.

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Okay, THAT makes more sense! As you saw, I found this meta.stackexchange.com/questions/109152/… shortly after asking my question. But the history on the question gave me the answer I really wanted. Or rather, it solved the mystery for me, given that the user was sincere, the answer content was high quality etc. Thank you so much! –  Ellie Kesselman Dec 19 '11 at 0:38
    
42...the perfect number. –  John Dec 19 '11 at 4:43

Short answer: Yes.

One valid case that I can think of for giving more than one answer is when one answer is awarded a bounty, another bounty is offered (by the same user for an unrelated reason) and the second answer is to respond to the additional bounty.

Example: What is the correct way to detect whether string inputs contain HTML or not?

In this case, the first bounty was for a canonical answer, but the second bounty is to award a user that can show weaknesses in a potential solution. I won the first bounty, but if I wanted to win the second bounty, I would have to add a second answer to make it count, since as far as I am aware, it's not possible to award two or more bounties to the same answer.

Another valid case for providing two or more answers is if there are two equally valid solutions to a question, which should be judged separately. Such situations, however, are relatively rare.

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There is no valid reason I can think of to add a second answer. If your solution is wrong, bad, broken or has weaknesses then you have to fix it before somebody assumes it correct. –  Time Traveling Bobby Dec 19 '11 at 8:41
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@Bobby: In general, I would agree with you. If I hadn't won the first bounty I would have edited my answer to respond to the second bounty if I wanted to. But this is a case where a user really does want to win two or more bounties. (Since here, however, another user stepped in and provided a good response to that bounty, I have no intention on competing for the second bounty.) –  Peter O. Dec 19 '11 at 8:57
    
@PeterO. That question isn't your doing (I'm not accusing you of anything). But it is a big mess! There is just way too much stuff there, so many answers, interminably long comments back-and-forth, etc. Dual answers by one individual are actually the least of the problems! Makes one wonder why two bounties for one question is needed! And that is probably a more relevant concern than my question was to begin with! Thanks for providing that URL in your answer, by way of example. –  Ellie Kesselman Dec 19 '11 at 21:50
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@Bobby - I answered this question twice they're such different answers and approaches I wanted them to be voted upon on their own merits. –  Flexo Dec 19 '11 at 23:52

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