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I've notice that Senior members rank higher when answering. Ideally this sounds like a good idea, however, I have had two experiences where a senior member has taken my idea rephrased it slightly and submitted it as his own. My answers received no votes, while a senior member due to their ranking gets credit for my solution.

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can you provide specific examples, otherwise it's hard to understand what you mean. –  Jeff Atwood Mar 16 '10 at 7:28
    
It is two of the seven answers, stackoverflow.com/users/262230/mac –  Peter Mortensen Mar 16 '10 at 12:13
    
Without looking at the content it can be narrowed down to two of these four: stackoverflow.com/questions/2166112, stackoverflow.com/questions/2177935, stackoverflow.com/questions/2220879 and stackoverflow.com/questions/2436134. –  Peter Mortensen Mar 16 '10 at 12:17
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in those three, there is only one case (2220879) where Mac's answer was posted before the high-scoring ones, and in that case, i'd say Alok's answer received a lot of votes because it was immensely more thorough. –  David Hedlund Mar 16 '10 at 12:56
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6 Answers

up vote 7 down vote accepted

I have seen that time, and time again. That the best answer (in my opinion) will get more up-votes than other answers, regardless of when they were posted.

Frankly, I sometime prefer to be the last person to the party. At that point, it doesn't matter how long you spend carefully crafting your answer. I have on some occasions taken hours to carefully craft an answer, that later ended up being the most up-voted answer. Quite often these answers will also become the accepted answer.

So my recommendation to you is to stop worrying about other users, and just make sure your answer is as good, as you can possibly make it.


Also if I come across similar answers by two users, one of which has very little rep, I will be more likely to vote on the one from the user with the lower amount of rep. Which is the opposite of what you say you are seeing.

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I agree; I am actually more likely to vote for the lower-rep user if two answers are comparable in quality. –  Jeff Atwood Mar 16 '10 at 19:57
    
@jeff, you shouldn't vote based on the author –  jmfsg Mar 29 '10 at 21:11
    
@downvoter if the content is roughly the same, the only distinguishing characteristic IS the author. So, post better answers then. :) –  Jeff Atwood Mar 29 '10 at 23:33
    
@Jeff, the author isn't the only distinguishing characteristic; what about timestamp? I'm not going to upvote an answer posted seven hours later that brings nothing new to the question, even if it's from a lower-rep user. –  Pops Oct 20 '10 at 17:52
    
If the two answers are almost identical, the one that shows up first gets the votes. –  hsanders Aug 21 '12 at 16:18
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One thing to bear in mind is that just because you've submitted your answer before someone else doesn't mean they've seen your answer before posting.

Quite often I've posted an answer only to see that someone else has already posted something similar. If my answer doesn't contain anything beyond theirs, I'll delete mine... if I think mine explains the same thing better, or adds extra information, I'll leave mine up. The poster of the first answer may think that I've "stolen" their answer - but in reality it's just two minds thinking alike, which should hardly be a surprise to anyone.

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never attribute to malice that which can be explained through simple incompetence! :) –  Jeff Atwood Mar 16 '10 at 8:36
    
+1 - My thinking exactly... Started a few arguments on Superuser, but makes me feel a lot better reading that you do the same as me. –  William Hilsum Mar 16 '10 at 16:30
    
@Jeff: but whose? –  perbert Mar 16 '10 at 17:28
    
I've had people steal my answer almost verbatim before... When that happens I can't help but attribute plagiarism to it. –  hsanders Sep 6 '12 at 17:32
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I've notice that Senior members rank higher when answering.

Not true. Answers are sorted based on votes and the order of answers with similar vote count is randomized. There are more than enough cases that prove a low-rep member can easily outscore a high-rep member.

I have had two experiences where a senior member has taken my idea...

Note that there may be not a million best ways to accomplish something. Sometimes it's just a couple good ways to do something and you can never be sure that someone has taken your idea merely because it were there first. They may have reached the idea independently. Never ignore this possibility before accusing someone.

...rephrased it slightly and submitted it as his own.

Well, a rephrased answer is no longer identical to your answer, in which case, it's perfectly possible that a third party believes one is better than the other.


Yes, "answer stealing" is a problem and the order randomization has made the problem a little worse. This has been discussed to death in meta before and is by no means limited to people in a certain rep category.

That said, like many things in Stack Overflow and real life, there's not likely to be a 100% practical solution for some problems. Just ignore it and go on to your next question.

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I briefly looked through all the answers you've given on SO so far.

Is it possible that other users provided better or more usable answers?

I'm sure you're trying your best to be helpful, which is great. A good answer often comes down to little things like code formatting, readability, and understandability. Try working on improving these things in your answers and I think you will see an improvement in your response rate.

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The order of answers is not affected by reputation.

You make a bold accusation - are you sure your answer was copied? What is the time difference between the answers?

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I agree that answers given by high-reputation users tend to be upvoted slightly more quickly and easily than those from others. That's often unfair, but it's human. At the end of the day, as far as I can see, the best answer still counts most on SO in most cases.

The suspicion of "stolen" answers I find unfounded. I can see nothing supporting that allegation. To most technical questions there is a limited number of possible solutions, and it is likely that people will come up with answers similar to yours. It happens to me, and I'm sure most people here, all the time.

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I'm not even convinced that the upvoting of high-rep users is always unfair: correlation isn't causation, don't forget. Typically I find that high rep users can express the same idea in a more helpful way, which is how they've achieved high rep to start with. Even if there are two answers which give the same information, that doesn't mean the answers are equal in all ways... –  Jon Skeet Mar 16 '10 at 17:47
    
@Jon true. Even with two identical answers, the one given by the more experienced person will inherently have more value because the person's full knowledge has tested it against possibilities the less experienced answerer maybe even doesn't know about. No doubt. What I mean is, when confronted with two answers both of which an onlooker doesn't fully grasp in all detail (the old "bike shed" scenario) there will be a slight tendency to accept the high-rep user's answer at face value more readily than that of the low-rep user. It has happened to me, shaming me later. –  Pëkka Mar 16 '10 at 21:09
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