My answer got repeated on this question. Almost exactly. Should/can I complain?

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    That answer is substantially different from yours, and comes to a different conclusion than your answer does. It uses some of the same code yours does, but that code logically follows from the OP's question and variable names.
    – user102937
    Commented Nov 28, 2011 at 4:39
  • Just to make sure. You are saying that: "However I would initialize the array just as it is created. float user_queue[24] = {0.0};" is not equal to "For this you don't even need a loop: /* Array of 24 users */ float user_queue[24] = { 0.0 }; this will initialize the array to all zeros without the for loop. " Am I right? Commented Nov 28, 2011 at 4:41
  • Anyway, Mystical beat both of you, with a better answer. I see what you are saying, but with two upvotes, the community apparently liked the way Hunter phrased his answer better than yours. It happens.
    – user102937
    Commented Nov 28, 2011 at 4:42
  • @RobertHarvey That's not a point. It has nothing to do with Mystical. Hunter McMillen answered 2 min after me. Commented Nov 28, 2011 at 4:43
  • ok. no discussion anymore. thanks. Commented Nov 28, 2011 at 4:43
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    Note that, if the answers happened within two minutes of each other, it is possible that some cutting and pasting occurred, but it's also possible that Hunter was composing his answer the same time that you were composing yours, and he didn't even see your answer until his was posted.
    – user102937
    Commented Nov 28, 2011 at 4:47
  • It's unclear; are you saying you think somebody copied your answer, or just that they posted the same answer a little after you? Commented Nov 28, 2011 at 4:48
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    @Michael: It's not even a copy. Some of the code is similar, but the language is different. It's an original answer.
    – user102937
    Commented Nov 28, 2011 at 4:49
  • Related: Answer stealers Commented Nov 28, 2011 at 4:50
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    @RobertHarvey Your opinion is very clear; I'm asking what the OP is posting about Commented Nov 28, 2011 at 4:51
  • @MichaelMrozek I do not know what happened at the other side. All I see is the paraphrased part of my answer that came 2 min afterwards. anyway, don't mind. Commented Nov 28, 2011 at 4:51
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    @RomanB. I find it very annoying that you claim I am copying your answer, our answers were only two minutes apart. Initializing an array in C with that syntax isn't anything novel or unique to you, it is perfectly reasonable for two people to reach the same solution, in fact several people in that thread came up with the same solution. Commented Nov 28, 2011 at 5:22
  • @Hunter, I very much agree this was not about copying. That said: there's nothing wrong with deleting one's answer when seeing someone else posted the same just before you did. I'm not saying that should be done in this example; maybe your answer is better. But in general the "two minutes apart" is no reason for me to not delete my duplicates. (And maybe edit some more info into an existing answer.)
    – Arjan
    Commented Nov 28, 2011 at 6:42

2 Answers 2


When talking about very basic questions such as this one, it's going to happen quite a bit. There's two very low hanging apples there to pick:

  • The OP is having off by one and scope / declaration issues
  • The OP doesn't need a loop in the first place

What happens isn't that people copy your answer, they don't need to copy it on such a basic question. People know the same answer that you did, and naturally they want to post it. They may (or may not) have seen your answer posted prior to adding their own. They may have skipped right from the question to the answer field and started typing away in all of the excitement we used to feel in History class when we actually knew the answer the teacher wanted. Back then, we threw our hand high up in the air and trampled over our fellow class mates, chanting the all familiar war cry ... ooooooh!!! ooooooh!!! PICK MEEEEEE!

One of the biggest reasons why I don't have 3x the rep that I do is because I read the existing answers before adding one. This results, 8/10 times in me not answering a question that I could because someone else did a fine job of answering. However, when working on unlocking reputation based privileges, people don't always show such restraint.

Wherever there's low hanging fruit, there's bound to be a feeding frenzy. This almost always means that several terse and nearly identical answers will compete. If you notice a blatant pattern of a specific user copying other answers nearly byte by byte, that's probably something we'd want to look into. Barring that, it's just part of using the site.

For a final bit of irony, I see @Shog9 has done a fine job of answering this :) But, I worked on my answer too, so I'm posting it anyway.

  • +1 to give you some well-earned Unicorn dollars.
    – user102937
    Commented Nov 28, 2011 at 5:23
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    You bastard! You copied my answer word for word! And then added insult to injury by changing all of the words!
    – Shog9
    Commented Nov 28, 2011 at 5:30
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    @Shog9 The best comment ^ Commented Nov 28, 2011 at 5:33

Should/can I complain?

You... can... And really, you sorta are...

But should you? Well, what good does it do? If he copied at all, he didn't copy your answer verbatim... so you can't exactly claim plagiarism. Both answers are fairly trivial, so it's hardly surprising if multiple people came up with the same thing independently. Heck, someone just posted another answer that's also very similar to yorus...

But more importantly, if his answer disappeared, it wouldn't improve yours. There's no real value to the community in removing it apart from a little less noise - but then, removing yours would have the exact same advantage there, and you can achieve that without saying a word...

In short, complaining accomplishes nothing. So don't bother, unless you're doing it purely for catharsis.

What should you do? How about improving your answer to make it more unique / interesting / informative? Maybe a bit of background on how and why initializers work that way. Cite the spec for extra credit. Be creative. That way, everyone wins...

See also: What's the appropriate etiquette when two people correctly answer a question at the same time?

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