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I've answered a bunch of questions on SO, and now I have a history to look through. Several of my answers got lots of upvotes and were accepted, but most of them got zero votes.

Should I go through my history and remove the 0-vote answers in cases where there are other answers being upvoted and even accepted? This would seem to me to remove clutter.

On the other hand, there are some cases when my answer is basically the same as the accepted one, yet with slightly different wording or with different example code. In this case, it could be helpful to someone to have the additional perspective or sample code.

What do you guys do? Is there an accepted standard for or against this kind of housekeeping?

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13  
SO really seems to be a magnet for folks suffering from OCD. –  nb69307 Jul 29 '10 at 12:40
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Be nice. I'm just trying to do my part to make SO better. –  Erick Robertson Jul 29 '10 at 13:35
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@Neil: You're never going to get all the OCD sufferers out of SO. Will you feel comfortable if you can't, or will there be this nagging compulsion, perhaps an obsession, to complete the job? –  David Thornley Jul 29 '10 at 14:31
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Neil, what Object Collision Detection has to do with that? –  Nick Dandoulakis Jul 29 '10 at 15:28

6 Answers 6

up vote 12 down vote accepted

Once I answer something I generally leave it unless someone points out that it might be incorrect, then I try my best to fix it.

Your answers might have been spot on, but:

  • Someone else posted something similar before you
  • Someone else communicated more effectively with the OP, or in general
  • Your solution, while technically sound, might not have been the best one

There's no reason to remove them, someone else may find your answer useful and possibly even up-vote it. Or, someone else might point out how it could have been a better answer.

Cast no nets and catch no fish :) I've got 11k+ on SO at the time of this writing, with plenty of answers that received zero up votes. In fact, I think I have at least six or so answers that received no votes but were accepted.

I wouldn't worry so much about votes. Just use them as an instrument to help you write better answers. A lack of down votes is, in and of itself, a good thing.

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+1. All that being said, if the answer is more or less an exact duplicate of a higher voted one, I would suggest that it's ok to "tidy" the thread. If it adds nothing of importance then sure, remove it if you like. I've actually removed answers that have had a few votes on them because they were duplicates. –  Andy E Jul 29 '10 at 12:44
    
@Andy - True, its nice to keep things clean. I've removed some high voted answers before just because I later learned they were blatantly incorrect and up-voted the correct ones. I don't think I've ever come close enough to another answer to qualify as a duplicate, though. –  Tim Post Jul 29 '10 at 12:52
    
You missed one "reason" a different but nearly exact answer might be upvoted: Namely your rep. I've noticed that the higher the rep, the more likely someone will upvote your answer, even if it came in later. And the final "reason" you might not get an upvote: Jon Skeet answered the question. ;) –  Chris Lively Feb 18 '11 at 20:16

I don't see why you would bother. It doesn't hurt that it's there, and if it's got zero votes it will be displayed below the other better/accepted answers anyway. Better spending your time answering questions than going around removing old answers.

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If it duplicates other answers, I may remove it. If I'm typing it in, and by the time I've finished it adds nothing to the answers of those with faster fingers, I will delete it. If I've said something they didn't, or I think said it in a better way, or at least a different way that somebody might find useful, I leave it. If it turns out to be wrong, I'll edit or delete.

Who knows, maybe somebody will find your explanation more helpful than the others sometime. In the meantime, a lot of answers to a question won't harm anything.

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If there are other answers that are clearly better than yours and your answer does not add anything, then I think you should delete your answer. The number of votes you got for your answer should not affect this.

However if it is possible that your 0-vote answer would be helpful to someone looking at the question you should leave it.

If there are lot of answers, consider if you can edit your answer to make it the best.

If your answer is just a link, you may wish to edit one of the other answers to include the include before deleting your answer.

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I delete answers if:

  1. its an exact copy of an answer posted earlier.
  2. if it has 2 or more downvotes and I'm not absolute sure its a correct answer.
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If you look at it and think its just clutter, remove it.

Otherwise, if you still think the answer is correct and might be helpful, leave it there.

Nobody wins if potentially helpful information is removed.

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