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Look here to see what I mean? Should I ask one of these guys to delete their answer (and merge whatever detail is missing into the other answer)? I'm aware of this other question, but it's a little different.

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FWIW, I will actually down-vote exact duplicate answers. They serve no purpose unless the authors are willing to improve/differentiate them in some way. Others disagree, but I would certainly not up-vote an answer that adds nothing. OTOH, if two answers explain the solution in different ways, they may both be valuable - use your best judgement. –  Shog9 Jan 10 '11 at 20:23
Very closely related, but not quite a dupe: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/49000/… –  Pops Jan 10 '11 at 21:10
@pop Actually I see a dupe. What's the difference? The other is so much better actually. –  Tshepang Jan 10 '11 at 21:24
@Tshepang, you asked about telling answerers to delete their posts, and the other one doesn't consider that. But if you consider it a dupe, then I'll go ahead and vote to close. –  Pops Jan 10 '11 at 21:36
@Shog9, I would not downvote if I cannot be sure that the first answer was not enhanced within the 5 minute edit grace period. (I don't care about reputation, but getting downvoted while one was actually the first to post something, disturbs me a little bit to be honest.) –  Arjan Jan 10 '11 at 21:45
@pop Oh, I see. I guess that's an interesting distinction. I got lost when none of the answers actually covers that part. –  Tshepang Jan 10 '11 at 21:53
@Arjan: practically-speaking, it doesn't matter which answer you down-vote (or up-vote) when they're identical. I use the timestamp purely because the later answerer probably had a better chance of noticing the duplication, but others use other metrics. Ideally, one or both users edit to differentiate (or one user deletes) anyway. –  Shog9 Jan 10 '11 at 21:59
Looking at the timeline of the very example given in this question: the first answer was actually just one line, until it was edited 6 minutes after the second (more complete) answer was posted. But for almost equal timestamps, where the history does not even reveal the 5 minute edit grace period, I'm often not confident enough to tell who was first, nor could I tell who of the two posters was the last to look at the list of answers, @Shog9. –  Arjan Jan 10 '11 at 23:04
@Arjan: in this case, the answers are not identical. So you pick the one that is most precise / best written / unicorns. –  Shog9 Jan 10 '11 at 23:08

4 Answers 4

If I am such second answerer myself, even by a split second, then I delete my answer if I recognize it's a duplicate. Hence I do not upvote duplicate answers that are not first. I would not downvote such duplicates though, as one can never be sure what happened in the 5 minute edit grace period.

If the second answerer comments "you just beat me with that" but do not delete their answer, then I tend to comment "there's always the delete link...".

(The timeline of the example you gave shows that the 1st answer did not match the 2nd, until it was edited after the 2nd was posted. In such case, if equal, I'd upvote the 2nd.)

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I'd tend to upvote both as long as they are timely close enough to each other: if one answer comes 10 seconds later than the other one, I'd like to show my appreciation to both answerers.

If there are several minutes (hours) between the two answers, I'd downvote the second one since it makes me feel like he (she) just copied the first answer and added a pinch of own content.

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I agree with dalle - upvote both of the answers. If they're the same, then just reward the Accepted Answer to whoever was quicker.

You'll have to do that for this question ;-)

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I have often considered accepting an answer from the person with the least rep when answers appear to be within seconds of each other. –  IAbstract Jan 10 '11 at 21:08
Ah! I think that's a great idea. Kudos to you! –  ChrisLava Jan 20 '11 at 21:29

Upvote both answers, and select one of them as the accepted answer. If the answers are identical to the letter or if you cannot decide which one is better, choose one at random, or select the first posted.

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If I have 2 or more identical answers, I will upvote the answers and accept the first one posted. –  IAbstract Jan 10 '11 at 21:07

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