I already encountered several times the situation when the correct answer is a union (minus some information) of more than one answer.

Would it be possible to implement the accepting functionality in another way?

The questioner would highlight with some kind of software highlighter the sentences (from all answers) that contribute to the accepted answer.

So, there would be not only the points mechanism, but the percentage of highlighted text too would contribute to answerer reputation.

The resulting "meta-answer" would behave like wiki created from the sentences from answers connected with a "glue" (a few sentences of the questioner).

This wiki would be created after the questioner accepts one of the answers. The task of the questioner would be to clear all information waste and concentrate in the wiki only the good information.

And the advantage from this? The new readers of the question could then quickly read correct, complete solution. Important is that the reader don't lose information contained in other good answers (and don't want to read all because of information waste).

  • % of highlighted text would not be a very good indication. Sometimes (even most times in a programmers world) less is more.
    – Lix
    Mar 7, 2012 at 19:21
  • @Lix You're right. The evaluation function could be created in another way.
    – xralf
    Mar 7, 2012 at 19:26
  • Copy/paste all the helpful parts into your own Community Wiki answer, and accept it.
    – user102937
    Mar 7, 2012 at 20:14
  • @RobertHarvey That's what I do and it's good practice. That's why I suggest this feature for making SE better.
    – xralf
    Mar 7, 2012 at 20:20
  • How can the site make this any easier than Ctrl-C and Ctrl-V?
    – user102937
    Mar 7, 2012 at 20:21
  • @RobertHarvey You can create more ergonomic shortcuts. For me is ctrl-c ctrl-v sufficient.
    – xralf
    Mar 7, 2012 at 20:27

2 Answers 2


I already encountered several times the situation when the correct answer is a union (minus some information) of more than one answer.

Would it be possible to implement the accepting functionality in another way?

Sounds to me like you've discovered one of the few remaining uses for the "Community Wiki" feature: when you want to consolidate multiple answers into a single meta-answer that can be accepted.

You wouldn't have to make it community wiki, but I think it would be the polite thing to do, for two reasons:

  1. It should be editable by the community (duh). The people who left the original answers from which you draw should be able to edit it easily, just as if it were their own post. Future users who want to contribute something should also be able to do so.

  2. You probably don't really deserve to earn reputation from simply taking the time to cobble together things that someone else already wrote.

To post an answer that is Community Wiki, start adding an answer and ensure that the "community wiki" checkbox in the upper-right corner is checked. Accept it just like you would any other answer.

The rest of your question reads like you're trying to automate this culling process. Unfortunately, since AI isn't all that good yet, I don't think that's a good idea. A human needs to be ultimately responsible for composing the answer so that it actually makes sense and is useful to others. As Robert suggests in a comment, it doesn't really get that much easier than Ctrl+C, Ctrl+V

If you want to reward the other contributors beyond a simple upvote, you could consider setting a bounty.

  • Example: cooking.stackexchange.com/questions/139/…
    – Shog9
    Mar 7, 2012 at 21:31
  • Thank you for the answers. I really didn't know that this is planning and I'm glad about it. (Though I have heard about community wiki but haven't found a time to read more about it yet). The example @Shog9 shows is nice example of this feature.
    – xralf
    Mar 7, 2012 at 21:40
  • But don't understand what is bad on the question that it's so heavy downvoted :-) It would be great to see the list of (now anonymous) downvoters and read a reason of everybody. Now, I don't know what's so wrong with the question.
    – xralf
    Mar 7, 2012 at 21:42
  • @xralf: The FAQ might contain a clue. People probably disagreed that we needed a new feature for this and/or with your specific suggestions about automating it. They might have also felt that your question and/or your proposal was unclear. Mar 7, 2012 at 21:44
  • @CodyGray It's tagged "discussion" and "suggestions". I considered it more free environment and hoped I won't be penalized when I have a good intent to help with something. I have a lot of ideas but in this environment it's sometimes better to let them for myself.
    – xralf
    Mar 7, 2012 at 21:51
  • @xralf: Did you read the FAQ section that I linked to? Downvotes mean something different on Meta than you apparently think they do. And besides, it's tagged [feature-request]. All feature requests attract downvotes by virtue of the fact that some people think they should not be implemented. Mar 7, 2012 at 21:52
  • @CodyGray OK, this makes a difference.
    – xralf
    Mar 7, 2012 at 21:54
  • "You probably don't really deserve to earn reputation from simply taking the time to cobble together things that someone else already wrote." I get the thrust of this statement, but I'd bet most of the info on SO is probably non-original research. The difference is whether they cobbled it together from answers on the same post, or from any other source in the universe. I personally believe that some level of poaching is fine and good, even from answers on the same post, and can still result in better quality answers. Sharing the rep isn't important to me. There are always more Qs to A :) Mar 8, 2012 at 1:45

What I would consider an option in a situation where more than one answer is helpful but no one (in its own right is a solution) is for the OP to merge all the answers into one answer (as you said) ensuring to give credit (where it is needed) to the people involved.

Usually though, one answer clearly stands out and it is pretty obvious which answer should be accepted. Most times (but not always) the first answer also is given the honor (provided of course that the answer is valid and helpful) Sometimes its great formatting making his/her post POP off the page or sometimes its just a different take on the problem and maybe a rather different approach.

Putting the responsibility of a final "mega-answer" might work if all the users spent all their time on the site and they all obeyed all the rules all the time. ;)

  • Usually votes are showing where there is useful and relevant information and most of the time it's in the accepted answer and in a few other answers. I haven't seen the statistics showing distribution of points (among answers) in questions (with e.g. 7 different answers) but believe it exists or is possible to create.
    – xralf
    Mar 7, 2012 at 19:20
  • The problem with posts that have 7 different answers is that most of the time the answers are dupes of themselves. Some new users will see a (simple) question and say to themselves "I know that! I can answer that!" - and then scroll right past the other 6 answers and bang out a perfectly valid (and duplicate) answer (example given on one of the recent podcasts). I find it unlikely that there could be that many answers on a question that meets the high standards of the site and its current community.
    – Lix
    Mar 7, 2012 at 19:29
  • ^_ but it is possible :P
    – Lix
    Mar 7, 2012 at 19:30

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