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What is the official etiquette on answering a question twice?

Example scenarios:

  1. I answer a question on Monday, then on Wednesday I come up with better, but completely different answer. Should I delete my original answer before I post another? What if both answers have merit?

  2. I am answering a very broad question and I have several distinct answers which are not in any way related, except that they answer the same question. Should I post them separately so that the different answers can be read and voted on individually?

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migrated from stackoverflow.com Aug 11 '10 at 1:03

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marked as duplicate by Jeff Atwood Sep 5 '11 at 5:43

This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question.

    
As you're placing this under the sofaq tag, you should mark this Community Wiki. –  Shog9 Dec 12 '08 at 3:40
    
Or we can edit the OP! –  leppie Dec 12 '08 at 3:41
    
Looks like Peter saved us the trouble. Thanks, Peter! –  Shog9 Dec 12 '08 at 3:52
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7 Answers

I feel you should be able to post as many answers as you want. Whether you edit or answer again, I dont mind.

As long as people dont go and just say what has been said in previous posts.

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Actually, the posting what previous people had said was Joels advice exactly ;) –  Simucal Dec 12 '08 at 12:24
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If there are two answers in the highest voted answer, someone with the same question wouldn't know which was getting the votes. This matters most when one solution would be superior to another but it would not be obvious to someone asking the question which answer that would be.

It's also possible that each answer could be voted on by separate groups, thereby placing it higher in the rankings than it would otherwise deserve. Putting them in separate answers shouldn't change how many votes the answerer gets most of the time. (You could argue that by artificially placing higher it would receive more votes by being more visible, but it could also be the case that by posting separate answers they will receive more votes because each answer may require more votes to reach it's appropriate level in the ranking.)

So I think it's always best to post in separate answers.

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On questions with multiple specific but distinct answers:

If both answers are valid, then sure, although I would probably edit my original answer to provide both (along with pros / cons / my preference) rather than posting a new answer.

If you suspect one answer might be preferable to the other, but don't really have a good feel for why or how, then by all means post them separately - the voting and comment system are designed for it.

On questions with multiple broad but distinct answers:

These tend to be discussion questions. Write an essay, touch on both answers, detail your thought process. The exception would be "poll" questions, in which each answer should be a single concept (and, marked Community Wiki).

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Is your purpose to gain rep or to share knowledge? Assuming the latter, I'd say both of your examples justify multiple answers.

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In Community Wiki / Discussion / Survey / Poll type posts, it makes sense to put each answer in its own post, so people can vote each one up or down individually.

If they're marked Wiki, then you don't have to worry about the "gain reputation" motivation.

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but you do if it's merely subjective, numerous instances of this abound and are notorious rep sources –  bananakata Dec 12 '08 at 12:43
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I see no reason against posting multiple answers in either case. For readability and clarity of the answer sometimes combining your answers makes more sense, but this depends on the specific question.

In any case, the voting system rates the quality of the answer in terms of it's helpfulness, relevance and clarity. This means that a combined answer which is very helpful will be highly voted and people who didn't rate before the update might well upvote it afterwards. Similarly, separate answers will be voted on their own merits.

The only caveat I would suggest when combining answers might be to make it clear where a major edit / addition has taken place. This helps people get a feel for how the answer has evolved.

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I feel you should be able to post as many answers as you want. Whether you edit or answer again, I dont mind.

As long as people dont go and just say what has been said in previous posts.

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