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Do you read others' answers before providing your own answer or just contribute to existing best answer with a comment? Why?

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Don't you mean others' answers? – Gnoupi Jun 28 '10 at 18:24
Yes, sorry. Updated the question .) – Eimantas Jun 28 '10 at 19:12
If I don't read the existing answers, how should I comment on them in a meaningful way? – sth Jun 28 '10 at 20:48
@sth unless jon skeet answers. You dont need to answer, just move on to next question. – nawfal Nov 11 '13 at 13:18
up vote 18 down vote accepted

I always read the existing answers to see if they cover what my answer would be. If there's enough missing from the existing answers that I think it warrants a separate answer, I'll post one and generally start it with something like "Foo's answer is right, but you should note that..."; if it's a minor point I'll just add it as a comment on the answer I agree with.

I assume by "read others' questions" you mean questions people have posted as comments; if I think I know the answer I generally don't read the comments until after I've posted. Once I've posted my answer I'll go back and answer comments with what my interpretation of the question was, or I'll edit the question to clarify points if it's in my opinion obvious what the OP meant

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I have read your answer and found it to be correct. I will therefore not add my own to the noise. A comment however...: +1! – Randolpho Jun 28 '10 at 19:28

You should have used a true XHTML parser instead of a regex.

Wait, what was the question?

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Oh, I thought the question was whether I read questions before responding. My mistake. – mmyers Jun 28 '10 at 18:20
You should drop not reading and try jQuery. – Pops Jun 28 '10 at 18:26
@Popular Demand: Did you say something about bananas? – mmyers Jun 28 '10 at 18:28
Your reference to bananas has flummoxed me. – Pops Jun 28 '10 at 18:44
@Popular It's a secret meme, just unhash this MD5-hashed string to find out about it: c796b5898e2b3caaced0f2174c592262 – Michael Mrozek Jun 28 '10 at 18:48
I am tempted to go with "pull the other one, it has got bells on." – Pops Jun 28 '10 at 19:06


If someone else has provided an answer that is similar (or typically identical) to the one that I would have provided, I usually leave a comment indicating an up-vote.

If someone has made a typo, again, I usually just leave a comment even though I can edit their answer. (I have yet, at 11k+ rep, gotten used to the idea of editing someone else's answer, though It is starting to sink in).

If someone wrote an IOU to buy a clue, I down-vote and comment.

If nobody has yet answered the question the way that I would, I answer, then edit, edit some more .. and then (usually) edit again a month or so later. Then perhaps a year later.

Finally, how can you determine the existing best answer without reading in the first place? Surely, not by votes .. I hope :) If you are knowledgeable in your tags, every answer is interesting and deserves your scrutiny, applause, comment or edit .. if indeed the question attracted your attention in the first place :)

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You should totally drop that and try jQuery.

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Stolen By (or from) Popular Demand – Tyler Carter Jun 28 '10 at 21:22

I do the comment/answer thing similar to how Michael Mrozek handles it. I tend to chime in with a 'me too' comment on a good answer if it seems the original questioner might need some extra weight on an answer to take it seriously. Or if I can provide a brief use-case in case one wasn't provided in the answer. Again, if all of that gets too long I'll post my own answer.

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Yes, you should most definitely read the top few threads and at least skim through all the other answers. Some community wiki answers have pages, so it is reasonable to just skim, but if you don't read the answers you'll just duplicate. Correct answers that only add noise should be downvoted (check the date published)

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