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What shoud we do when someone posts an exact same answer after your answer?
I've seen this happen more and more lately. For example in the following answer: Python split consecutive delimiters

  • Vote down?
  • Add a comment asking to remove the answer?
  • Flag the answer for moderation?
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2 Answers 2

up vote 7 down vote accepted

If the two answers were posted within minutes of each other, this is the fastest gun in the west problem (FGITW): the problem has a natural solution, and several people post essentially the same answer with that solution.

If the answers are very similar, the ideal resolution is to keep whichever answer has the best explanation of the solution, and delete the rest. If you answer in a high-activity tag, it's a good idea to revisit your answers and delete those where someone else did better than you.

Here, I prefer your answer, because it contains a code example. But gigantt.com's answer has a link to the documentation. I suggest adding that link to your answer.

I don't see why you would vote down gigantt.com's answer: it's correct. If you were worried about plagiarism: it's obviously not plagiarism of your answer, you both copied a line from the documentation within seconds of each other. There's no call for a moderator to get involved. If someone reposted the same answer (same answer meaning same explanation, not just same solution) days or months later, that would be plagiarism.

(I got the “1 new answer has been posted” banner. I'm going to post this answer anyway and watch the FGITW happen here too.)

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You copied a line exactly from the docs, and 44 seconds later someone else copies a line from the docs.

What often happens in these cases is you both viewed the question at about the same time, started writing your answers, and posted within a minute or two of each other. They did not copy your answer and re-post it, they just had the same idea as you - copying from the manual.

If you frequently copy from other sources, you are frequently going to run into the problem where others give the same answer.

Consider expanding your answer with more explanation, or customizing it more to their situation.

I don't have much sympathy for people who do the minimum amount of work to copy another reference line to stack overflow, then complain when others have the same unoriginal idea. I'm sure it's helpful to the OP, but there's no need to punish someone who simply did what you did.

Check the timestamps. They did not copy your answer.

If you want to avoid this problem in the future, expand on your answer with original content. Personally I'm not a big fan of submitting answers that contain only links or exact copies of other references. I don't downvote them, but I don't upvote them either.

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And the little games people are playing with the downvotes on the example question amuse me to no end... –  Adam Davis Jun 25 '11 at 16:26
    
+1 for discouraging one-liner answers, but rafalotufo did post a usage example, making his answer better than the other one posted at the same time with the same solution. I'll leave my answer up because it has a link to FGITW. Regarding the downvotes, they don't amuse me: these games make Stack Exchange worse. –  Gilles Jun 25 '11 at 16:30
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@Gilles And that shows that the other answer wasn't merely a copy. The addition of specific code suited to the question differentiated the answers. Regarding downvotes - Meh. Questions like this are chum in the water for sharks - if you continue to target easy to answer questions, you'll constantly be mired in the petty games rep whores play. It's not a bad way to get rep - you can answer 30 questions per hour, and as along as you get one upvote on 2/3 of them you'll hit the rep cap. But you're competing with others doing the same thing, and it's not worth worrying about petty behavior. –  Adam Davis Jun 25 '11 at 16:37
    
I agree with you all. Thanks. But I didn't say that he copied my answer, just that it was the same. If you see that you've just posted an answer that was posted 10 seconds before you, should't you remove your answer, if it doesn't add anything new? –  rafalotufo Jun 25 '11 at 16:44
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@rafalotufo: It did add a link to the documentation, which is usually useful to have. –  sth Jun 25 '11 at 16:56
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@raf That's optional - usually voting takes care of that issue. They did have a link to the documentation, and honestly the fact that you copied some other resource without proper attribution is a much worse offense. This case may not require it, but when I see people posting someone else's material without attribution I'll often flag it as plagiarism. That's a big no-no around here. –  Adam Davis Jun 25 '11 at 17:27

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