What's the right etiquette on Stack Overflow: Let's say someone adds an answer that has information addressing an answer I had posted to the same question previously. Then in the interest of having a better, self-sufficient answer do I modify my original (with credit to other poster)? Specifically, say if it's an equation that might do better with an extra term, or an assumption or a constraint I had failed to mention in my answer but in hindsight makes perfect sense.

Or do I leave readers to parse all answers, comments etc. to get the exact message by themselves. Would modifying my answer (to make it better / self sufficient / stand alone) based on another users later post be plagiarism?

  • 1
    Also see meta.stackexchange.com/questions/68764/….
    – nneonneo
    Mar 1 '13 at 5:12
  • Depending on the specifics, that other answer might be "not an answer" if it's just commenting on your answer; if that's the case it should have been a comment and may end up being deleted or converted to a comment. If it mentions your answer, or improves on it, while still answering the question in the post, then this wouldn't apply.
    – Servy
    Mar 1 '13 at 5:16

This is just my own opinion on the matter; what I would do. So take it for what it's worth.

If I did any changes, I would definitely credit the other answer which inspired my change, of course. But whether to change, or not?

If the other answer was correcting an error in my answer that affects its usefulness, I would consider altering my answer. However, if the other answer is simply providing an alternate way to do something, I would not edit my own at all.

In my opinion, you have the right idea; you should not 'steal' from someone else's answer. So, if they are presenting something you didn't, but your answer is still valid (if different), it's best to leave it alone, in my opinion. But if they were correcting something wrong with your answer, it makes sense to make your answer more helpful by fixing it (with credit, where it's due)


From the site's fine print (at the bottom):

user contributions licensed under cc-wiki with attribution required

Therefore, it's OK to do this, as long as you attribute the original post and author. Be sure to mark their post helpful!

I would also personally refrain from adding totally separate solutions to your own post, though, unless you can improve upon them in some way. Simpler answers are often better.

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