This question is similar to another one, so feel free to mark it if it is too similar.

Here's the story:

I'm on Seasoned Advice, and I see yet another question about how long food can be left out of the fridge. This time, however, the person asking the question says something specific about transporting their food, so I think to myself that this is enough to possibly make the question unique.
Naturally, as a new user eager to earn more privileges, I type up an answer, linking to a similar question about food safety, answering the initial question, and suggesting that an insulated container with an ice pack be employed.
Meanwhile, the post is marked as a duplicate of the one I was mentioning in my answer, and a commenter pretty much covers everything else I had said. I notice this as soon as I post my answer. Feeling sheepish, I promptly delete it.

Should I undelete it?
On one hand, most responses to the question (and its many duplicates) I mentioned at the top of this post seem to point to yes. On the other hand, I get the impression that there is some subtle etiquette involved here that I have yet to learn and am not likely to find in an FAQ, and I feel a little silly posting an answer that restates information already present on the page. And there is the possibility that I was answering a duplicate question, anyway.

I would also like to point out that I posted this on the Stack Exchange Meta because it seems relevant to any SE site. Correct me if I am wrong.

  • 3
    Encourage the commenter to post an answer.
    – Sam Berry
    Jul 2, 2015 at 23:58
  • 1
    If they don't, post it yourself as community wiki (if you can).
    – Tim
    Jul 3, 2015 at 15:44
  • @SamB. and Tim Unless someone else does so, I will probably post an answer including this information in a day or two. Questions like this one have improved my understanding.
    – JTL
    Jul 5, 2015 at 13:24

2 Answers 2


What should be done with questions that have been self-resolved as a comment instead of an answer? has a handful of opinions similar to your question. I personally like the idea of asking the commenter to post an answer, and if they don't, post it yourself. I know sometimes when I'm on the move I'll post a comment over an answer since I don't have the means to confirm something compiles for example. There are of course other situations but it's your choice whether you want to give the user a chance to answer or not. A user should not get upset if a comment of theirs gets turned in to an answer. To summarize the options listed in the question linked above:

  1. Post the answer yourself
  2. Post the answer as a community answer
  3. Encourage the commenter to post the answer

In summary, get the answer out there for the community.


If the question was not a duplicate, I would say leave your answer in place. Answers are "better" than comments because they can be downvoted, for example. If you saw the comment first, then urging the commenter to answer is a nice touch, but not required. If you answered at the same time as someone commented, you should never feel an obligation to delete your answer.

Things are different, however, when the question is a duplicate. Assuming it truly is, you need to measure your answer against all the answers over on the canonical target. If yours adds something, you should probably flag and ask a mod to merge it over onto the target. If yours doesn't, you should delete it. Accumulating good answers on a duplicate means that the truly good answers to the underlying problem are spread across two questions on the network and that's not good.

So it really hinges on whether it's a dupe or not. If you're sure it's not, edit it to make that clear, and work on getting it reopened. If you agree it is, and maybe deserves just a quick comment about one wrinkle that's special in this case, the existence of such a comment already means it needs nothing further, and doesn't need your answer undeleted.

  • I'm not entirely sure if the question I am dealing with is or is not a duplicate, but that is another subject that has been talked about extensively elsewhere.
    – JTL
    Jul 19, 2015 at 18:03

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