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Yesterday on Stack Overflow, another user and I posted the same answer at the same time co-incidentally. Today he has commented below my answer that I have copied him and he voted me down as well. - but I didn't copy him.

Please tell me what is the solution if you get into such situation? Is there any policy for that?

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    Do not downvote their answer (unless it's incorrect, of course). You may reply that you posted in good faith, but that probably won't achieve anything. Walk away and let the community cast votes -- if the answers are identical and were posted at the same time, chances are votes will be evenly distributed. Mar 9, 2014 at 16:56
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    I take it you're referring to this answer which was posted 18 minutes after Gavin's. I wouldn't say they're that similar and look like they're independently worked on. I would just not worry about it. Mar 9, 2014 at 16:57
  • yes this is the answer... Mar 9, 2014 at 16:59

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It happens. Just ignore it. You can get into a big debate of "yes you did", "no I didn't", but that's pointless.

If anything, see if you can improve or extend your answer to make it better. If not, leave it as is. In some cases where this happened to me, I deleted my answer because all was said in another one. But by no means let another user badger you into deleting yours.

Two reasonable answers stating the same don't hurt anyone.

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  • Bart you are right... i have provide justification in the comment then i removed... as i was afraid it will lead to useless discussion... should i share this question link to gavin ? Mar 9, 2014 at 17:01
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    If he continues the discussion, you could. I would however just let it be. Move on to more useful things to spend your time on.
    – Bart
    Mar 9, 2014 at 17:04
  • Got it! thanks a lot for support :) Mar 9, 2014 at 17:05
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This kind of stuff happens all the time. You should see the "why won't my code compile?" questions in Java and C++, usually about 6-7 correct answers will be posted within seconds.

Personally, when I see others who post the same answer as me; I review their answers, leave a comment if there is a minor error and up-vote them otherwise. Remember, the actual goal of SO is to provide information that helps others; not to compete for votes on some arbitrary single question.

I suggest simply flagging the other user's comments as "not constructive" (accusations of copying are not constructive towards finding a solution to the problem), not engaging with the other user, then forgetting about it and moving on.

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Once something like this happened to me here, except I was in Gavin's situation. I was upset, like he is, and so I downvoted the other answer (which I realized later was the wrong thing to do and abusing the downvote feature). However, I talked to the other answerer about it, and realized he didn't try to copy me. So what ended up happening was he removed his part of the answer that "copied" mine, and I upvoted his answer because I agreed it (obviously). And I even think he might have upvoted me; so I went from 0 votes and feeling upset to 2 upvotes and respecting the other answerer to this day. What I did was apologized, took all the blame (since it was my fault), and upvoted him. I felt good about this, much better than I felt when I was ready to "go up in arms" against him.

So I would recommend you could do this. Apologize to Gavin (even if you are in the right), and maybe even upvote him. If you are honest and sincere in your apology, you will very likely win him over and gain his respect. (You could even offer to delete your answer.) So just modify your answer so it's no where near like his, apologize to him, and upvote him. I can almost guarantee you, you will win him (and others) over. (Just as a side note, a great book about things like this is "How to Win Friends and Influence People").

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    Downvote answers if they do not answer the question correctly. Do not downvote correct answers because of unrelated personal reasons.
    – Jason C
    Mar 9, 2014 at 17:31
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    @JasonC, I know. I had downvoted because I thought he copied me. I realized that this was not the right way at all to handle it, so I apologized, and removed the downvote and upvoted him because I inevitably agreed with his answer.
    – davidsbro
    Mar 9, 2014 at 17:33
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    Sorry; I meant to direct that towards readers of your answer, not towards you.
    – Jason C
    Mar 9, 2014 at 17:35

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