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I've been seeing this for a while now, especially on the tag.

A user will ask a question (usually very simple, and mostly a duplicate of older questions. But that's for another day).

The user will get one or more answers that successfully answer the question. A little bit later, usually around 5-10 minutes but can be more, another user or users will come along (mostly low rep users) and post the exact same solution, sometimes changing the wording a bit, but sometimes being lifted word for word from the other answer(s).

This is slightly different from the Fastest gun in the west problem. I have nothing against answers posted in very quick succession that solve the problem. The ones I'm talking about are answers posted long after the first correct solution, that say the same thing.

A good example of this is available here. All three answers say the same thing. One offers code + explanation (first answer), the second one (three minutes later) offers only code and the third one (a full eighteen minutes later) offers only a text answer.

How should answers like this be dealt with? They are adding nothing of value to the community, as the problem has already been answered. The person posting the answer could not have run into the "The other and I posted the answer so close to each other we didn't know about duplicates until after posting" problem, as there is an eighteen minute gap.

Here is another example.

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I don't know how big of a problem this is. I can't imagine the late answer(at least that particular one) gaining any upvotes, so there's no rep being gained from this behavior. I think the bigger problem with that question is that it's been asked(with slight variations) at least a hundred times. –  Geobits Mar 10 '13 at 20:47
    
@Geobits I'm working on a separate question revisiting the android tag quality problem (we had a question on this earlier, but its pretty old now). I don't mind this happening occasionally, but its happening dozens of times a day. –  Raghav Sood Mar 10 '13 at 20:49
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I agree this is an issue, though I've seen worse examples than the one you link to. –  David Robinson Mar 10 '13 at 20:49
    
@DavidRobinson Same here. I can't seem to find the links to any right now though. I'll edit if I do (or if you have some, feel free to add them :)). –  Raghav Sood Mar 10 '13 at 20:50
    
Judging by this earlier question, it doesn't seem to be much of a problem in general. –  Geobits Mar 10 '13 at 20:52
    
Keep in mind that for a low rep (or inexperienced) user, it can take 10-15 minutes to post a good answer with functioning (and tested) code. It is possible that the answer may be "original" that just took a while to compose, and coincidentally is the same as another. Not saying that is always this case, but until the difference in posting time is pushing 30 minutes, I'd like to give the users the benefit of the doubt. –  psubsee2003 Mar 11 '13 at 0:07

1 Answer 1

up vote 12 down vote accepted

This is a common thing, especially on easy questions. But it bothers me less than other problems, like people using answers to comment.

Most answers like this come in the first few minutes after a question is posted. If a late user (10 or 15 minutes later) posts the same answer, I generally leave a comment to the effect that "[this user] posted your answer already."

If someone leaves an identical answer on an old question (for some arbitrary definition of "old"), cast a deletion vote or flag with a custom explanation, and ask for deletion.

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If you flag for deletion on this type of post, please don't use the generic "not an answer" flag. Moderators are likely decline that quickly on posts that look like reasonable answers. Instead, please flag as "other" and explain why you think the post should be deleted. –  Bill the Lizard Mar 10 '13 at 21:18
    
Ok, I did the right thing then. I flagged this answer : stackoverflow.com/questions/19217506/… as "Duplicate answer". I almost asked this question again, didn't find it easy, that would be a little bit ironic. :) –  K.C. Mar 8 at 11:45

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