I wonder how to handle duplicate, late answers from new users? Today I reviewed this late answer which is almost an exact duplicate of this answer. The reason these late answers are reviewed from my understanding is to prevent new users from adding low quality answers. In my opinion a duplicate (actually a sixlicate because there are six 'duplicate' like answers) answer to a 1.5 year old post validates as being low quality and unwanted.

So I doubted a bit what to do since there is no flag for 'duplicate answers' and looked up this answer on Meta.

The only times I'd seriously consider flagging is when the duplicate is posted days or weeks after the original.

After giving it a bit of thought I chose to flag the answer, after all I'm reviewing this late answers to sort out the hidden gems between the junk. But the flag got declined because:

flags should only be used to make moderators aware of content that requires their intervention

In my opinion the moderators intervention should have been deleting the post, after all we want users to post useful answers, but it seems I'm wrong.

So my question is: When I'm reviewing late answers from new users and they give a duplicate answer, what should I do with it? I'm new to the whole Stack Overflow reviewing and if I do so I like to do it right.

  • 1
    Wow! I wanted to ask exactly this question for the same user question. I flagged for duplicate answer and also got the same declining. The thing is I often flag answers like that (which is one of the reason of the late queue) and normally these duplicate answers get deleted. Mar 12, 2013 at 16:00
  • Similar question with one extension, it's got an accepted answer and it's over 2 years old.. stackoverflow.com/questions/671857/… look at FlyingVivaldi's answer..
    – UpAndAdam
    Oct 21, 2013 at 16:56
  • 1
    This question is a duplicate of How should we deal with duplicate answers?
    – EvgenKo423
    Apr 15, 2021 at 8:36

2 Answers 2


If someone copies and pastes an exact duplicate of another person's existing answer without attribution, that might be actionable as posting copyrighted material (our CC license requires attribution).

Otherwise, if they're answering a question in different words than an existing answer, there's always the chance that their explanation of the concept will be clearer or more helpful than the same content explained by someone else.

This does not require moderator intervention. If they say the same thing clearer than others, vote for it. If they're just adding noise, don't vote for it, or even vote against it. But if an answer is right and multiple people say the same content in different words, vote for the one(s) you find helpful.

I think this is a sort of thing.

  • 1
    I just realized that while they are worded very differently, the content of my answer isn't that different from the content of the answer by Won't◆, so this falls into the same category of "Duplicate answers" that the post is discussing.
    – Daniel
    Mar 12, 2013 at 16:40
  • I think this doesn't fall into the same category of "Duplicate answers", your answer is clearly a different answer to me. The message can be the same, the road is different. If you take a look at the answer I flagged and this answer: stackoverflow.com/a/8052647/849741 that's what I call duplicate. I think the question is now, do you call this an duplicate or someone trying to answer a question in different words? And should we in that case only flag exact duplicates, or never flag duplicates? (I also updated my question adding a link to this answer)
    – Jos Vinke
    Mar 12, 2013 at 17:07

Did it really require moderator intervention?

Is it actually a problem for users to try and answer open questions?

Should a new user's first attempt to provide an answer be met with deletion because he gave a decent (well, after your edit) answer to a question without an accepted answer?

We aren't in the business of judging what is and is not a "useful" answer. That's why we have votes.

The answer as it stood in its original state... well, that's another thing.

  • 9
    Is it useful if it's the SAME answer as other, unaccepted ones? Yeah, I know you said we're not in the business of judging usefulness. But votes only go so far, some times. =)
    – J. Steen
    Mar 12, 2013 at 16:10
  • 2
    It was also posted 16 months after the other ones. Mar 12, 2013 at 16:11
  • 8
    Yes I think it really does require moderator intervention, we don't want new users to think it is a good practice to go 'farm reputation' by just copy + pasting 1,5 years old answers. That's among other things why we review this late answers right? To help and guide new users.
    – Jos Vinke
    Mar 12, 2013 at 16:11
  • @JosVinke: If it was a copypaste you wouldn't have had to edit it, correct?
    – user1228
    Mar 12, 2013 at 16:12
  • @FrédéricHamidi: Excuse me, but if SE didn't want this to happen they would automatically lock old questions.
    – user1228
    Mar 12, 2013 at 16:13
  • 2
    @J.Steen: Votes work perfectly when used.
    – user1228
    Mar 12, 2013 at 16:13
  • @Won't And I've used mine. It's just... irksome to see that kind of behaviour. Obviously they haven't read a single of the previous answer, or they're hoping for rep on an open question. Either way... well. But fine. Maybe flagging is a bit over the top in this case.
    – J. Steen
    Mar 12, 2013 at 16:15
  • 2
    @Won't I edited it because I was reviewing the answer and didn't see the other answers when reviewing. I just saw a answer that looked reasonable with very poor formatting on a old question without an accepted answer. And I don't think that it is really relevant whether it is copy pasted or not, the content was saying the exact same thing as this other answers.
    – Jos Vinke
    Mar 12, 2013 at 16:15
  • 2
    @Won't, that would also prevent users from posting other, different answers. I'm all for giving the benefit of the doubt to new users, but posting what amounts to a duplicate answer 16 months after the question was asked looks a little... off-limits to me :) Mar 12, 2013 at 16:16
  • @JosVinke: Copypaste is relevant, as that comes under "requires moderator attention." Your edit is good, and hopefully the person who posted that answer can learn something from it. I just think as the situation stands right now everything is fine and doesn't require anything else.
    – user1228
    Mar 12, 2013 at 16:46

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .