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Maybe its me, or maybe its an issue with this site. But it seems there is a problem.

How should you attempt to answer questions, when you see a question that takes some time to respond to, it seems that five other people have already answered by time you have typed up your detailed response?

Is it supposed to be how fast can you type in an answer or how well you have answered the question?

I seem to repeat peoples answers a lot ... should I then remove my answer so as to declutter the question?

Is the reputation on the site then based on whether you spend your entire day waiting for easy pickings and then quickly typing an answer?

If you are the fourth person to answer a question in the same way why do people say hey you just repeated my answer?

I guess Im just trying to work out what the best way to respond to questions on the site is

Sorry for the long way around to the question :oP

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migrated from stackoverflow.com Aug 24 '09 at 20:24

This question came from our site for professional and enthusiast programmers.

    
See: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/11953/… –  Shog9 Aug 24 '09 at 20:27
    
See also: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/9731/… –  Shog9 Aug 24 '09 at 20:27
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3 Answers

up vote 4 down vote accepted

(My answer is considering that this question was first asked on SO)

Is it supposed to be how fast can you type in an answer or how well you have answered the question?

It is supposed to be about what can help the guy who asked the question.

A "solution" might be to :

  • at first, post a useful answer, that doesn't give too much details, but points to a solution
    • if the guy who asked the question is good, it might point him to the right direction, and he might be able to solve the problem by himself based on the pointers you gave him (that's nice, when it happens ! )
    • you might egt upvotes, for a useful answer, and be placed "at the top of the answers list"
  • then, if you "quick answer / pointers" did not help enough, you can edit your answer to add more details
    • this time, it should definitly help the guy the solve the problem -- or even solve it for him
    • you will get more upvotes (and your answer will already be one of the first seen ; this help to get even more upvotes)


I seem to repeat peoples answers a lot ... should I then remove my answer so as to declutter the question?

Remove your answer if it is not helpful ;-)

Up to you to judge if it was useful or not, though -- downvotes might be an indication that it was absolutly not ; upvotes would be an indication that is was.


Is the reputation on the site then based on whether you spend your entire day waiting for easy pickings and then quickly typing an answer?

Yes and no :

  • being one of the first to answer is good for your reputation, if your answer is good
  • for some questions, there are no (good) answer even after a while (generally, this is for some tags that not many people know things about) ; in these situations, a great answer from you will probably not get you many upvotes, because not many people see those questions, or have the knowledge required to vote wisely... But it is for those questions that your knowledge is the most valuable for the guy who asked...

So, once again : think to the guy who asked the question, and not (or, at least, not only) your reputation ;-)


If you are the fourth person to answer a question in the same way why do people say hey you just repeated my answer?

If I'm the fourth guy who said the same thing :

  • either I'm stupid (yeah, happens) : you generally can see there were other answers, with the orange bar on top of the screen.
    • and if you only want to add a pretty little bit of information to another answer, that's why comments are for -- it'll help another guy edit his (already good) answer so it's even better ;-)
  • or my answer provides a couple more information (links, examples, advices, ... )
    • that can happen if I saw there were other answers : I can edit my answer to provide more informations ; sometimes, building on what others said (saying some ideas are from others seems normal, in that case)
  • or I took lots of time to write an answer with examples, research, and all, and it would hurt me not to post it (that sometimes happen, I have to admit)


Oh, another thing : I really often edit my answer to enhance it's presentation / correct some typos (I try to type a bit too fast, especially considering english is not my mother tongue and I almost only write in english on SO)

For instance, this is the second (I think) time I edit this answer : I've added some informations, then changed some presentation things, then re-added stuff, ...


One last thing :

  • it's fun ^^
  • (two last things ^^ ) : don't you learn plenty of stuff reading other answers ? If I wasn't learning anything, I wouldn't ever go on SO...

About that : couple of minutes after answering your question, I answered another one on SO : Why does this syntax work in MySQL (matching column-pairs against column-pairs)?
I guessed I provided a correct answer -- and I learned something while both reading the question, and searching for the answer : that is something I like !

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In general when I repeat an answer I will upvote the quicker one and delete mine. If I have something else to add to that I can edit my answer (even if it has been deleted) and then undelete it later.

If you take extra time to provide a detailed response, it likely will take a bit more time to get voted up because people won't notice it at the bottom right away... but as soon as they do and the votes start counting it will gradually filter to the top.

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Just answer the question - don't over-complicate it. If you're first, congrats. If not, no biggie - you may still have the best answer and thus receive the most up-votes ultimately. If you answer, only to notice you provided the same answer as somebody before you, delete your answer and up-vote theirs.

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