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As only one answer can be right what do you do if someone has almost got it right, but is missing something? Or, even worse what do you if someone answers after you and although they're wrong have included a detail that you missed?

I'd like to be able to cite their answer and then share the points. I often feel like the other people answering the same question as me are in competition with me. This seems like a shame. It'd be nicer if we felt like we were working together towards an answer that would help someone.

This feature is probably more trouble than it's worth and I worry that it might confuse users. But, what do people think?

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up vote 5 down vote accepted

Most people generally add details to their own answers and cite the original source with a link (you should do this whether the original source is on SO or on any other site). The goal of the site is to get the correct answer to the top of the page. If you have to cobble together details from several sources in order to do that, go ahead, just give proper credit.

If you're just correcting an obvious typo, go ahead and fix the original post. SO is collaboratively edited, so most people won't be offended in the least.

You do get into a gray area when you start to add technical details to someone else's answer that just weren't there (or even hinted at) before. You run the risk of rendering a previously correct answer incorrect, so be careful doing this. You might add the detail as a comment and just let the original author decide. If they agree, they can promote your comment up to the body of the answer.

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Good answer. I do endevour to do that and will redouble my efforts. I think I sometimes become a bit obsessed with rep points and it's not healthy. I'm 2 off 900 at the moment on SO. It definitely an unhealthy obsession. – Richard Feb 28 '10 at 10:25
@Richard: A lot of us have gone through SO addiction, and some of us need counseling. :) Just remember though, if you're doing this to learn something or to help other people learn, how unhealthy can it be? – Bill the Lizard Feb 28 '10 at 16:10

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