Here's the case.

First somebody gives an answer as comment.

Then another one (me) marks the question as exact duplicate.

Then another SO user posts as answer the answer from the duplicate (and the comment) without adding anything.

My purpose here isn't to rant against a specific user as it's possible he didn't even see the comments and that's a frequent situation but to learn what we have to do in this situation, apart using our precious rep points to downvote the answer. Should we flag ?

  • That's exactly the goal of the downvote system: downvote the answer and explain why you did that. With enough people doing it, the person will learn the lesson. Commented Jun 18, 2012 at 8:32
  • possible duplicate of Should I flag plagiarism for moderator attention? - But I'll still post an answer ;)
    – Lix
    Commented Jun 18, 2012 at 8:54
  • It depends on what type of exact duplicate question posted. If question is so easy to find solution on current system, then usually people downvote that question. Commented Jun 18, 2012 at 8:55

2 Answers 2


Possible duplicate/related - How to deal with answers exactly copied from other SO answers.

Now how do you feel about us answering this question now? ;)

If the answer that was given is a blatant copy- paste of the existing answer to the duplicate post and no attribution was given then flagging is a possible option. A comment explaining that this is bad practice is also worth a try.

If the answer that was given is not the exact same answer from the duplicate (ie the person who answered altered the answer to suite the OP / post) then this is no problem. Answering duplicates is not the end of the world.

Check out this blog post for some theories on why duplicates can be helpful -
Dr. Strangedupe: Or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying And Love Duplication

... it’s OK for duplicate questions to have duplicate answers. While you could argue that the duplicate questions could all be merged into one question with a “master” set of answers, this is kind of irritating from the perspective of the user looking for an answer...

There is also the meta tag that deals with this topic.
Some highly up-voted questions from that tag -


Should we flag ?


Answering a dupe-flagged question isn't forbidden. I agree it's usually not the right thing to do, and it often sucks to see it happen, but it's still allowed. (plus often, it happens in good faith. I've answered many a question only to think later and realize that of course it's a duplicate.)

Turning someone else's comment into an answer (if that's what happened - the user may simply have come up with their own, similar answer) is also perfectly okay.

  • Shouldn't these answers be merged when the question is an exact duplicate? I don't have the privileges, but I thought that was what was supposed to happen.
    – CodeGnome
    Commented Jun 18, 2012 at 8:28
  • 2
    @CodeGnome I think that happens rarely - if just for the fact that questions can be differently worded, and merged answers wouldn't make sense then
    – Pekka
    Commented Jun 18, 2012 at 8:36

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