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Dealing with duplicate answers?
What's the appropriate etiquette when two people correctly answer a question at the same time?

I saw this scenario several times on Stack Overflow:

Somebody asks a relatively easy to answer question and immediately gets two good answers that answer his question perfectly.

A few minutes later somebody submits another answer that does not include anything new; it has the same solution to the question with a bit less text.

That answer is absolutely redundant but technically correct. What can I do against those answers? I'm not sure if I should downvote them because they are correct from a technical perspective.

  • 1
    – Rob Hruska
    Commented Dec 29, 2011 at 14:48
  • 2
    Why do you think this is a problem?
    – Oded
    Commented Dec 29, 2011 at 14:48

2 Answers 2


I usually wait a couple minutes for one of the answers to get updated. More often than not one of the authors will be modifying their answer to be more complete or accurate. If they do, they'll get my upvote.

If they're still the same after a couple minutes, I'll just upvote the one that answered first, and not upvote the other(s).

I think a downvote isn't really warranted here. The most action I'd consider taking "against" the answer would be to leave a comment saying that the author should upvote the existing answer instead of adding their own duplicate answer.

Also keep in mind that even though the answers may be "redundant", there may be subtle differences in them that are significant. Whether that be syntax, or a link to some documentation, or a small comment with explanation. A true exact duplicate answer is somewhat rare.


I will usually wait a couple minutes to see whether one of the answers gets updated. Very often, one of the authors will be working on their answer to complete it. If they do that, they'll get my upvote.

If they remain unchanged after a few minutes, I'll usually upvote the first one, and not upvote the latecomers.

A downvote would be too harsh IMO. If you want to add something, you can add a comment pointing out the redundancy of the answer. But I personally don't often do that.

Also don't forget that different answers can have subtle differences that make it useful to keep both around. Situations where a second answer is a right-out dupe of the first answer are scarce.

  • 3
    This is probably the best answer for this question. +100
    – Rob Hruska
    Commented Dec 29, 2011 at 15:11
  • @Rob thanks! I put a lot of work and thought in it. It's nice to get a bit of recognition for my troubles. :)
    – Pekka
    Commented Dec 29, 2011 at 15:12
  • Sure thing. Also, sometimes answers that look like duplicates have slight differences (e.g. how they're worded, or using a different syntax) which might be significant to the OP. You might consider mentioning that in your answer.
    – Rob Hruska
    Commented Dec 29, 2011 at 15:14
  • @Rob good idea! (I will delete this soon, just kidding around.)
    – Pekka
    Commented Dec 29, 2011 at 15:16
  • I think you should leave it. I'd be happy if it were accepted :)
    – Rob Hruska
    Commented Dec 29, 2011 at 15:17

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