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Sometimes a question doesn't have a simple answer, and you wrote an explanation that is quite lengthy, using examples etc. And let's say that the answer is good enough to have gotten quite a few votes (let's say 10 is a good threshold).

Let's say a week later you realize that you could've taken an entirely different, and in your judgement, a much better approach. You'll explain it in a different way, with different examples, etc. Of course, since it is answering the same question, the eventual destination is the same, and there may be some overlap along the way, but the two paths are, at least in your judgement, still quite different in characteristics.

There are now two possibilities:

  • Edit the first answer into the second answer. The first answer will be lost in the revision. The votes that were cast for the first answer are now, in some sense, misaddressed for the second answer.
  • Write a new answer. It doesn't really matter that you have two answers now; it's allowed by the system, and presumably, it's allowed by the community

Which of the two is preferred?


Clarification

For simplicity sake, let's say that the two answers aren't in disagreement with the other. There's nothing wrong with the first answer; it just choose to explain something one way, and now you've found another way to explain things that may be better.

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3 Answers

#3: Preface the old answer with the new one, followed by details on how they differ and why the new one is better. But leave the old one (in some form at least... You may want to omit unnecessary examples if you're trying to discourage its use).

This is especially important when the old answer is actively harmful: people need to know about it and know why they shouldn't use it.

IMHO, the biggest advantage of this approach over two separate answers is the ability to integrate similarities, contrast differences, etc. all in one place. This becomes much more cumbersome with separate answers, as you don't control the sort order of answers on the page.

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I would certainly prefer the latter, for the exact reasons you mention. Even if I have two ideas from the start (rather than a week apart), if they differ widely enough and I think there will be disagreement, I'll post them as two separate answers so they can be commented and voted on separately

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If the answer is a totally different approach, you should add another answer. That's the reason the system allows more than one answer.

Alternatively, you could go for door number 3 and edit your previous answer to include both, separating them with a <hr>, which is what I do sometimes. The downside here is that either one of your answers could garner a downvote whereas with separate answers one may gain an up whilst the other gains a down.

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