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If you have answered a question and then later read another answer that is also correct, or another way of doing it, is it good/fair/bad to edit your answer to incorporate the other answer, so there is one answer with both solutions?

Should you let it be and let both get voted up?

For example: In my answer to this question I forgot about the ability to create working sets because I almost never use them. However, this is a perfectly valid and good answer. I'd like to incorporate it into my answer so there's one "best" answer, but I don't want to be seen as "stealing" answers or rep.

What does everyone think?

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10 Answers 10

up vote 9 down vote accepted

You could certainly reference where you saw the additional information when you add it.

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You can always acknowledge the other answer (including a link) if appropriate. Reputation really isn't that important (yes, I know I'm in a strange position to say that) - I'd rather see a good, complete answer that includes some of mine than have absolutely scrupulous accounting for reputation.

Similarly I think it's absolutely reasonable to edit an answer to include a bit of information that another answer made you think of. For instance, in this answer I had made an implicit assumption about the format of the input. Another answer made me recognise that I'd made the assumption, so I edited the answer to make it clear.

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If I do this I label the new section of my answer.

EDIT: Another answer reminded me about this other thing that I wanted to include.

I usually even provide a link to the other answer.

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The academics figured this out a while ago - quote the original source and you'll steer clear of conflict. People want credit, but the goal of this site is definitely to share good knowledge. They'll also appreciate it if you upvote their answer.

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I've got no problem when someone incorporates my answer into their answer. Especially not if it's the accepted answer because that answer ought to be as complete as possible.

When I see something that I've missed in another answer I usually create a community wiki answer and put both into it. Of course if it's only a small thing I just add it to my answer.

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I'd say if there are only two answers posted (as in your example) then just leave it as is - it's easy enough for people to read both answers. However, if your answer has been marked as "accepted" or rated very high, and there's another answer buried far away with good information, I'd be inclined to at least edit your answer and link to the other one below.

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If you make use of a solution from another persons answer, you should at the very least indicate that it is from that persons answer. Doing otherwise could be construed as plagiarism.

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I'm not sure it's plagiarizing, it's more taking somone elses answer into account... and modifying your own. –  Omar Kooheji Jan 14 '09 at 15:55
    
Hence the "could be". Plagerism is a gray area when it comes to what is/is not deliberate copying. –  Matthew Brubaker Jan 14 '09 at 15:56

Yes it's fair.

A lot of people collate good answers or refine their answers, improving on them having learned that thier answer was incomplete...

I may change my answer once someone else has posted more answers to this though...

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While normally I'd think it's fine to copy a bit of another answer to enhance your original thoughts (with a reference), in the given example I would not copy that second answer into yours.

Part of that second answer should have been a comment to yours, saying your answer might have undesired side-effects ("marking resources derived might cause problems in other areas"). The remaining part is really a different solution that you did not come up with, and others can vote up -- or not. It's up to the question asker to determine what helped him/her best, but others might feel different and give more votes to another answer.

(As an alternative for your specific example, now that you realise that using "derived" might cause problems: you have enough reputation to edit some words of your question into that second answer, and delete yours. That would leave one answer as well.)

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