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I have seen this many time in Stack Overflow that question has the same answer provided by different users.

I think there is no point of posting an answer which is already answered by someone else to the same question. Also from the questions point of view, questions get closed as duplicate if it a question that already been asked by someone.

Obviously, we can not put any restriction of providing answers, but can we motivate users to avoid posting duplicate answers.

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  • 4
    If they post in the time frame of 2-3 minutes, and they got up vote, what will you do?
    – nhahtdh
    Commented Jul 23, 2012 at 10:03
  • 1
    @nhahtdh : Yes that is fare, even some may post the answer at much similar time frame. But there are answers posted even more than hours after!!! Actually this question is pointing at those Commented Jul 23, 2012 at 10:06
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    Where is an example? Usually these will get flagged or voted on till they disappear, although it can be perfectly legitimate for two users to submit an almost identical answer.
    – slugster
    Commented Jul 23, 2012 at 10:26
  • Still people do down-vote without mentioning why :D Commented Jul 23, 2012 at 11:00
  • they provide same answers but in different style or format.. Commented Jul 23, 2012 at 11:49
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    How would this work exactly?
    – Pekka
    Commented Jul 23, 2012 at 15:50
  • @Pekka: This is just a suggestion only, if it is reasonable !!! Commented Jul 23, 2012 at 15:54
  • What exactly are you suggesting? Encourage users not to create duplicate content - how?
    – Pekka
    Commented Jul 23, 2012 at 16:01
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    @Pekka See my answer for one possible implementation.
    – JimmyPena
    Commented Jul 23, 2012 at 16:35
  • Do you have any examples? It would be difficult to justify asking for developer time if this isn't really a problem.
    – JimmyPena
    Commented Jul 23, 2012 at 18:34

2 Answers 2

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I agree with you, but in my experience, if the answer is an answer, it will not be removed, unless it meets some other criteria for removal (not an answer, should be a comment, link-only, etc).

Example: I flagged an answer to this question:

Return FileName Only when using OpenFileDialog

You can see how there is an accepted answer already, but some users start drifting in only recently (years later, mind you) and posting either the exact same answer or a slight variation of the accepted answer.

They're technically not wrong, just (in my opinion) piling on.

I asked the mods if they could lock the question because it looks like it was turning into a honeypot for new users. Flag was rejected because even though they are late, they are answers. As much as I don't like that behavior, I agree with the policy.

So unless an answer is not an answer, simply removing it because it is a late duplicate probably isn't going to happen.

As a suggestion, when there are already answers to a question, there might be some kind of popup or addition to an existing textbox (if there is one, I haven't asked a question in a while) that says something like:

Is there already an answer that answers the question? Please consider upvoting that answer or editing it to add more information instead of posting the same answer.

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  • Exactly, there can be something similar when we try to down-vote a question or an answer. A pop up thing that encourage user to avoid posting the same answer if there is any !!! Commented Jul 23, 2012 at 15:45
  • @huMptyduMpty let's not get ahead of ourselves :)
    – JimmyPena
    Commented Jul 23, 2012 at 15:48
  • Questions which receive a lot of "pile on" answers can be protected by users or moderators, this tends to "solve" that problem.
    – user7116
    Commented Jul 23, 2012 at 16:53
  • @sixlettervariables Yes, but only by high level users. I'm afraid I don't have the authority.
    – JimmyPena
    Commented Jul 23, 2012 at 18:18
  • @JimmyPena: a moderator would have to back me up on this, but it may be appropriate to flag to have it protected. I protect questions I see which have had this problem (i.e. I find 2+ Not An Answers from low rep folks or the question is old with no new good answers).
    – user7116
    Commented Jul 23, 2012 at 19:35
  • @sixlettervariables See above. I tried to ask a mod to do something similar on the linked question and was told no.
    – JimmyPena
    Commented Jul 23, 2012 at 19:37
  • @JimmyPena: to be fair, locking is not the same as protecting.
    – user7116
    Commented Jul 23, 2012 at 19:38
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    Note that official FAQ meta.stackexchange.com/questions/104227/… says that posting duplicate answers is not welcome and duplicate posts would be flagged automatically (with likely deletion as result). If you plan to use this answer as some sort of policy beware it is at odds with official policy. Commented Mar 17, 2021 at 0:29
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I had a similar situation where a new user posted an answer a year later with a subset of the same instructions I stated here, but with less details and explainations.

To my surprise it got more upvotes by now as you can see here even though the quality lacks in terms of explanations, details etc. compared to my accepted one.

But since it's technically a valid answer and it seems legitimate for two users to submit an almost identical answer, I didn't bother to downvote it for duplication and just moved on.

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