I've been running into something that I find to be an awkward situation on Stack Overflow. That is, when I am typing up what I consider to be a helpful answer and then the message: X new answers have been posted - load these new answers pops up and it is clear that one ore many of these posts answer the question, should I continue with my answer?

If it's a fairly simple question, I usually just discard it, but often times I will have spent a decent amount of time thinking over the answer and debugging the code. It is considered "obnoxious" to basically repeat whats been said if someone has given a very helpful and all encompassing answer?

Also being under 50 reputation, if I have something to in my answer that might improve the code that hasn't been mentioned, but most of my answer is still composed of whats already been said, should I just post it as an answer and remove the repetitive things?

I was just wondering what other users do when this happens.

EDIT: A similar question can be viewed here: Fastest Gun in the West Problem

  • thanks, hadn't seen that question.
    – Wold
    Commented Nov 2, 2013 at 22:23
  • 1
    Or on Stack Overflow you should take your time to make it exceptional, if the question allows it.
    – Bart
    Commented Nov 2, 2013 at 22:25
  • @Emrakul: what are the smaller sites you're talking about? (you deleted your comment....) Commented Nov 2, 2013 at 22:29
  • @gloomy These ones.
    – user206222
    Commented Nov 2, 2013 at 22:29
  • I've removed my somewhat unhelpful answer, but I'm saving this comment since it is helpful: Most of the time, I find that there's almost always something that I can do to make my answer better than all of the others. Sure, you'll run into cases where it's best to just stop and remove yours, but I've found that doesn't happen very often because most of the fast answers leave out a lot of things that make a great Stack Overflow answer. – jmort253
    – user206222
    Commented Nov 2, 2013 at 23:20

2 Answers 2


Some of my best answers were added last. My approach is to answer the person's question, then provide plenty of detail to ensure that they can understand exactly what's going on. I provide clear examples and detailed explanations.

If I see other answers are posted, I look at what those answers are missing, and then I make my answer even better.

This is especially effective if the op leaves comments on the answers explaining what he or she doesn't understand. I then laser focus my efforts on making my answer bust through the things that confuse the asker the most.

The "fastest gun in the west" answerers don't come back to follow up. As far as they're concerned, they're done. You'll see those comments remain under the answers, unaddressed. So if you can add value, you should definitely do so.

One thing I will say though is don't post a crappy answer and then expect to go back and edit it. That's a quick way to get drive by downvotes from people that don't care about your good intentions to edit and improve the post. Just take your time and post a good answer, and you'll find in many cases it gets accepted or ends up with the most upvotes. Maybe not in that hour, but over time, folks who drop by that same question with that same problem will find your answer to be the most valuable. Hope this helps!

  • 10
    I'm disappointed that this contains new information rather than just being a restatement of the existing answers. Commented Nov 2, 2013 at 22:46
  • 3
    Last paragraph, case in point: stackoverflow.com/questions/19744045/… (original answer was nothing but a single-line quote from the question and a "Yes.") Commented Nov 3, 2013 at 0:37
  • Although I will say that it's not that we don't care about someone's good intentions to edit the post. Like you said, "As far as they're concerned, they're done." I'm not going to assume someone is going to edit their post if they just post crap. Even if they meant to flesh it out later, we don't know that. Unless they stated within the answer something like "Give me a minute while I add more details." which just makes them look even sillier anyway. Commented Nov 3, 2013 at 0:39
  • @BoltClock'saUnicorn - yeh, not saying folks are heartless, just that most of us don't have the time to sit and babysit someone's post. Waiting for someone on the chance they may come back and edit it so we can remove our downvotes is generally a waste of time. :)
    – jmort253
    Commented Nov 3, 2013 at 0:53

There are two badges for writing an answer late and then getting upvoted: the Revival (30 days later and first answer to get 2 upvotes — owner of 8 of these on SO) and the Necromancer (60 days later and 5 upvotes — proud owner of 7 of these on SO).

However, in the heat of the moment just after a question has been asked, assess whether what you're planning to provide will be better than what's already provided as an answer. If not, remove (cancel) your draft answer. If it will be better (because you can see what others have done and omitted, or because you have a distinctive spin on the question different from other people), then go ahead and add your answer to the mix, and may the best answer win. You did stipulate 'multiple good answers', so your answer does need to be distinctively better.

Sometimes, I'll submit my answer and then rapidly delete it because someone else more deserving of upvotes has provided an answer equivalent to mine — and I'll provide the first (or another) upvote. Most people don't need to wear that hair shirt.

  • (The 'distinctively different' bit in this answer is the mention of the badges — the rest is not very different from what jmort253 said in his good answer. Commented Nov 3, 2013 at 0:21
  • The badges bring up a great point. This highlights that the rules for writing a good answer are the same regardless of whether you're 5 minutes late due to some fast guns or whether you're 60 days late, in that "your answer does need to be distinctively better."
    – jmort253
    Commented Nov 3, 2013 at 1:59

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