For the apple.stackexchange question "...how do I set the PATH environment variable unified..." a 2nd answer was given, which relates to the question, but IMHO does not answer a majority portion of the question. Here some details:

  1. The question is about, how to set the PATH variable in a unified manner.

  2. The 2nd answer details how to change the file /etc/launch.conf. It is to note, that changing this file is needed for the overall answer.

  3. The author of the answer does make the valid point that, when he searched for, how to change /etc/launch.conf, the question came up.

  4. The 1st answer does not detail the change of /etc/launch.conf enough.

So, the general problem is: What to do when an additional answer explains only a small (but unique portion) of the question, while an earlier answer explains more (but not what the additional question explains).

Finally, I think I should note that I am the initial asker and poster of the 1st answer.

  • You mean which answer to accept? – Robert Harvey Aug 6 '13 at 22:46
  • No, I mean what to do: leave it as is or edit the answers? – halloleo Aug 6 '13 at 22:53

If they are both useful, vote them both up. If one is only a little useful, don't vote on it. If one is actually wrong, downvote it. Feel free to comment on any of them. And if one of them actually solves your problem, accept it.

In the special case where one of the answers is yours, if you realize it's not useful any more, delete it. If it has some value, leave it. You can always edit your answer to improve it, but don't just copy in what another answer said.


I am the provider of the second, "minor" answer. Somehow along the way, even though my answer is factually accurate and provides (what I think is) vital information that the original answer is lacking, my answer was voted down. I don't care who did it, that's not the point. When you mouse over the vote down arrow, the tooltip "This answer is not useful" appears, which doesn't seem to be the case here, but again I'm biased.

The reason I didn't try to "integrate" my information into the existing answer is that this type of editing is strictly frowned upon. I'm an edit reviewer on a few sites, including SO, and I frequently reject edits as "an attempt to reply to or comment on the existing post." I feel that one of the great things about the SE community is that if you feel that you can add to the conversation, that perhaps an existing answer doesn't quite cover all the bases, then you are encouraged to do so.

  • I get the point: Better two "half" answers than one merged answer. I guess the main argument is transparency and avoidance of distortion: Separate answers keep transparently the history; a merged answer might distort the meanings. – halloleo Aug 7 '13 at 2:03
  • I'd like to take the down vote away. I can only do that after your answer is edited, so once you done some edit to your answer, I'll take the down vote away. – halloleo Aug 7 '13 at 2:08
  • @halloleo - thanks! I just made a minor edit (explaining the etymology of sudo) so feel free to un-vote away! – MattDMo Aug 7 '13 at 3:39
  • 1
    Err, that last paragraph is not correct. There is nothing wrong with adding more information to existing answers. That is completely encouraged and an integral part of the site's design. We are not like a forum where everyone has to post their own answer. We are more like a wiki, that is constantly updated by the community with the best information possible. – Cody Gray Aug 7 '13 at 7:26
  • @CodyGray frowned on for suggested edits – Kate Gregory Aug 7 '13 at 12:38
  • @CodyGray answers marked Community Wiki are certainly like that, and the whole ecosystem of a question and its associated answers are also like that, but external edits to someone else's answer are really supposed to be incremental, fixing errors, formatting, maybe adding small bits of information, but a major edit of the kind that's been suggested here isn't really kosher, unless it's done by the answer's original author, and is not plagiarizing another answer. – MattDMo Aug 7 '13 at 12:47
  • I disagree. Who says that they are "supposed" to be incremental and only fix errors or formatting problems? Kate is right, of course, that it is problematic to suggest edits that make radical changes—I discuss more about that here. But it certainly doesn't apply to users with full edit privileges. If you can make the answer better by adding information, you're supposed to do so. Edit privileges are not just for fixing typos. – Cody Gray Aug 7 '13 at 12:56

Another idea is integrating the 2nd answer in the 1st (to kep the knowledge concise) and "close" the 2nd answer.

You must log in to answer this question.

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