When posting answers, it may happen that somebody else posts an answer moments before me. And because the question was simple, the answers posted are of mostly similar content.

So can I leave my answer posted or should I delete it?

I am a beginner and have learnt a lot from Stack Overflow by posting answers based on simple topics. I have received immensely valuable feedback. But sometimes when I or somebody else posts matching answers, those answers get downvoted by users citing duplicate answers.

What are the guidelines on this?

  • Would deleting one's own answer lead to an eventual answer ban? – Antony May 4 '13 at 4:39
  • If you feel like your answer adds nothing new, then you can delete it to clean up the clutter. But don't do this too often. You can also edit it to add more information if you want to. – nhahtdh May 4 '13 at 12:21

If you feel the other answer is better, you can upvote the answer that was posted before yours, it will get more attention and is likely to be upvoted by other users, and accepted by the OP.

This behaviour even has a badge for it: https://stackoverflow.com/badges/805/sportsmanship

In my opinion, you should let other users decide. Sometimes between 2 similar answers, one has better phrasing, or one more detail than make it more useful. As long as you are not maliciously copying other people answers, I don't think you need to delete your answer.


Don't delete your own answers, you may end up getting answer banned (an automated process that triggers if you get too many downvotes or deleted answers).

From what I've seen, "duplicate answers" downvotes are rare. Generally, if two answers are posted within minutes of each other, it's OK to give them the benefit of the doubt that one user started writing his answer before any answer was posted; just that the other user managed to post first.

  • I won't downvote a duplicate answer unless the "duplicate" was posted at least a month after the original. (Though usually it's several years...) – Michael Hampton May 4 '13 at 22:23

First of all while answering any question, if we see a new answer notification through live refresh, we should take a look at that answer. If that answer contains the same content/code which we are going to write then don't answer the question. But if that answer is different than yours or you think the answer is not well described then go ahead and answer it.

So can I leave my answer posted, or should I delete it.

Deleting answer may lead you to answer ban. So there is no requirement to delete an answer if the answer's timing gap is minor (say few minutes).

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