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Sometimes I find that I'll post an answer on an SO question that, for whatever reason -- probably luck, most of the time -- climbs to the top by votes, beating out other answers with equally (sometimes more) useful information.

At times like this I feel strangely obligated to also mention some of the same points made by those whose answers haven't received as many votes, just so that info doesn't get "lost" to someone who's only looking at the top-voted response for a quick answer.

I understand that the main purpose of SO is to provide good, thorough answers to technical programming questions; so I feel like this is the right thing to do. However, I also appreciate that many users (myself included) can get caught up in the rep game, which adds an element of fun to the site. So I always include links to the answers mentioned in cases like these, so that the user who originally made the point I'm repeating (hopefully) gets credit for it.

But the thing is, I suspect that simply by including that information in my own answer, I'm perhaps unfairly collecting even more votes for myself, simply by making my already top-voted answer that much more comprehensive.

So, my question is: which is better? Should you include references to others' answers in your own, effectively repeating what they've already said; or should you simply let those answers stand on their own, even if it means they might be more easily overlooked?

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2 Answers 2

up vote 4 down vote accepted

Do include all information that helps to make your answer better.

The primary usefulness of StackOverflow is providing relevant answers to questions. Anyone that can be bothered putting in the effort required to track down relevant answers to a question from elsewhere and sum it all up in one spot is doing the question asker, and the community, a favour in my opinion.

Do give links to where you originally found the information and if you include a verbatim quote from someone else, do make that clear by putting it in a quote section. I think that's just common courtesy, not something required by any rules.

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It is perfectly all right to use content from other answers.

Do give credit where credit is due.

One way to do that would be to prefix sentences with "as @xyz says in their answer...."

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