What action should one take when the following conditions are met:

  1. One gives an answer to a question.
  2. That answer gets upvoted, maybe accepted.
  3. One later realizes that another user had given almost the same answer to a similar question (not an exact duplicate).

I feel a moral duty to acknowledge the prior answer with a link in an edit to my own answer. Is that sufficient?

I could imagine going as far as deleting my own answer and linking to the original one in a comment, or telling the previous poster to repost his answer to the more recent question, thus getting the credit.

The last option of course is to ignore the issue and do nothing.

  • You ask if a certain response is sufficient, but don't say what more it would make sense to do? I can't imagine what the other option are, other than do nothing?
    – agf
    Sep 27 '11 at 17:02
  • Good point, thanks, I expanded that part.
    – Philippe
    Sep 27 '11 at 17:07
  • 1
    You should note, you can't delete your answer once its accepted unless the OP unaccepts it. You can flag your answer, but even then, the moderator doesn't have to remove it. Sep 27 '11 at 17:49

Vote to close / flag the question as a duplicate if it's a duplicate, and link to the other answer from yours if it adds to / improves on your answer.

If the question does end up closed, you can always delete your answer later if you don't think it adds anything to the answers in the linked duplicate.

Otherwise, just link to the related question if you think its answers in general are relevant.


I feel a moral duty to acknowledge the prior answer with a link in an edit to my own answer.

Had you read the other answer beforehand? It's always nice to cite your sources.

If not, why are you feeling a moral compulsion?

  • 1
    No, had not. I guess that reflex comes from academia, where it is by definition your fault if you overlook prior work.
    – Philippe
    Sep 27 '11 at 18:55

Do whatever you feel is the right thing.

There is no obligation to cite someone if you did not in fact use their answer to formulate your own (and in fact where unaware of their answer's existence).

But if you feel that is the right thing, totally go for it.

No need to do much hand-wringing on this one. There really isn't a wrong way to handle this. You're fine to leave well enough alone, and you're fine to update your answer to cite the pre-existing answer.

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