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I read this question when only this answer was present. I knew of other answers, but since there are so many possible answers I chose to give several of them giving use cases for each (e.g. the first solves OPs question, but isn't very flexible). I then got a nasty comment saying "So after everyone has answered, you make a summary of it and then write a new answer? How convenient." after which 3 downvotes followed.

So I ask, is what I did reasonable? I honestly only "copied" (even though I knew it already) the first answer. The others appeared while I was typing up my answer. But my answer was quickly accepted so I'm hesitant to delete it or remove anything from it. Should I go back and reference the other answers (which were posted while I wrote my answer), even though I came up with them myself?

Putting the fact that the other answers appeared while I was putting together my answer, does a grouped answer not have more long-lasting value than 15 scattered answers?

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3 Answers 3

up vote 4 down vote accepted

Yes, it's acceptable, desirable even:

Want to know an easy way to earn reputation? Find a question somewhere with several good, but incomplete, answers. Steal all the answers and write one long, complete, detailed answer which is better than the incomplete ones. Sit back and earn points while people vote up your comprehensive answer. -- Joel on Software, Stack Overflow Launches

Some folks like to whine about it because they're too lazy to do the same themselves...

See also: Adding someone else's answer to your own to make a better answer

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Cool, great to know! So what would you do with the downvotes, ignore them? Although I'm glad to see my answers back in the positives. –  marcog Dec 21 '10 at 17:29
    
@marcog: if you think the down-votes are sour grapes, then yes - ignore them. Obviously if you can find a way to improve / expand your answer, then do so. –  Shog9 Dec 21 '10 at 17:34
    
@Shog9 It was just a little frustrating seeing a perfectly good accepted answer rush from +2 to -4 so quickly! But yes, I did improve it. –  marcog Dec 21 '10 at 17:39
    
It should be noted that it's only three paragraphs later in the same post that Joel writes: "Don’t combine multiple answers. For example, suppose someone asks 'What are your favorite keyboard shortcuts in Emacs?' Well, I could list them all in one answer, but how does anyone vote on that? Instead, I’ll provide a bunch of separate answers, and let people vote on the answers." –  ЯegDwight Dec 21 '10 at 17:56
    
@Reg: poll questions are not exactly "normal" when it comes to SO Q&A. –  Shog9 Dec 21 '10 at 18:27
    
My point exactly. –  ЯegDwight Dec 21 '10 at 18:54

I think it is just the imperfections of the reputation system. If you did it as you said (honest), I think there is no problem, it is just how it works.

When posting you should however make sure your answer adds new information, i.e. is not just the same as other answers. As your answer was some minutes later, you should have seen there were already answers (they are visible while you write), so you could easily defend the need of your answer among the other answers. I think if you did that more extensively, it would be more clear that your answer was useful, resulting in no downvotes and no negative comments.

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I've taken your advice and expanded on the answer. Hopefully it's better now. –  marcog Dec 21 '10 at 14:05

it depens how much you took to write the answer..i'm quite sure that 6-7 minutes after my answer yours was not present...above this, however, i think that you should reference the other answers

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If we look at the timestamps it took me about 10 minutes to put together my answer. I made sure each one worked and thought about which to include, which to leave out (e.g. using join(), which I find superfluous given how similar it is to the concatenation method). I also had to lookup what the future import was, etc. –  marcog Dec 21 '10 at 13:48
    
I've referenced your answer, as I did read it before typing mine. –  marcog Dec 21 '10 at 13:49

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