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It has been happening to me frequently that while I am writing an answer, I get notification that some answers have been posted already, or sometimes I don't even get notifications because of my slower internet and when I finally submit the answer and the page refreshes I see several other answers have already been posted.

What I do more often is that, I read the question (mostly on jQuery tag) go to jsfiddle and try setting up a working fiddle first. Then when I come back with a working fiddle I see some answers have already been posted. What should I do in these cases,

1) Just throw away the working fiddle and move to a new question

2) Post the answer anyway, which may trigger comments like, why are you copying answers or Is there an echo here? etc which I don't like to hear.

3) Check the already posted best answer and in comments suggest the answerer to use the fiddle in the answer if he hasn't added one already.

I also see a trend like people throws in a very short answer asap and continuously edit the answer to add more information and add working fiddle later. Is that something I should be doing too?

I have been active in SO recently, I am just trying to know best practices that the community follow.

Or when I make a working fiddle (which takes some time), and post the answer anyway, and hear things like why did you copy answers, or your are 5mins late with the same answer what should I do in those cases, delete the answer?

I would like someone to clear up these confusions I have.

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very related: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/15775/… –  ajax333221 Jun 19 '12 at 5:38
1  
"Y U COPY ANSER?" comments--flag them. 90% of them are BS, and we know this + usually delete them. –  Won't Jun 19 '12 at 14:02

3 Answers 3

up vote 16 down vote accepted

I also see a trend like Peoples throws in a very short answer asap and continuously edit the answer to add more informations...

Yes, I see this practice occur myself, even among some very notable high-rep users. It's called the FGITW problem; you can search for it here to see several questions and answers about it. I personally dislike this practice; if the answer is posted incomplete and doesn't help the OP, I will simply downvote it and move on.

Time and again, it has been shown that (provided the question itself has relatively broad appeal) well-written, comprehensive and complete answers that teach the OP and other readers of the question something new are well-rewarded with upvotes.

I'd much rather people take their time and post a well-written answer than try and gain cheap rep from poorly-written, bikeshed answers.


So. Should you post an answer yourself, if there are already a half-dozen answers that answer the question satisfactorily? Probably not. Should you provide a well-written, comprehensive answer if everyone else is providing one-liners and you can add additional value? Absolutely.

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Thanks Sir, I would always keep that in mind from now on. :) –  Joy Jun 19 '12 at 5:15
    
+ 1 Well Said!! –  Siddharth Rout Jun 19 '12 at 5:22

TL;DR

Clutter bad. Alternative viewpoints good.

Analysis

It depends. If your answer doesn't add any value or provide a new angle on the subject, then you should probably delete it. On the other hand, if you've provided a more in-depth explanation, better references, or just made a more informative post than the others, I'd leave it in the hopes that it will help someone else down the road, even if the original asker has already moved on.

Not everyone wants to be the fastest gun in the west. If you're one of the folks who prefer to provide more thoughtful, in-depth answers, then you should feel free to leave your contributions to enrich the community.

The bottom line is that there isn't a right answer other than "add value." Being the 4th person to post a link without explanation or to say "just use flag X" isn't very valuable, but SO could certainly use more answers don't have a target audience of 1.

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There are two facts pulling against each other. Answering quickly just to be first is undeniably rep-whorish; but posting first gets you the votes, other things being equal.

I think the rules of thumb should be:

  1. It's acceptable to post quickly (then edit), but not so quickly that it's not a complete answer.
  2. If a first post is poor (typos, so short as to not be useful), then it deserves whatever down-votes it gets.
  3. When someone edits their post, then the speed of their original answer shouldn't count for anything.

So in the case you described, I would post my answer anyway; then survey the answers. If someone posted minutes before mine with similar quality (keeping in mind that editing counts as posting), then I'd admit defeat.

That said, if you know the answer I would say post it right away, then come back and add the JS Fiddle. I have witnessed even the honorable Jon Skeet do this, so I know there must be no shame in it. There's no getting around the fact that the first correct answer (especially with low-hanging-fruit type questions) is most likely to get accepted.

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