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I understand generally one should read existing answers before giving another one. This can avoid duplicated answer, add more votes to them, and even when the existing answers miss your point, they can still provide useful information that you can use in your answer. However, is there a case that it is acceptable to not doing that, especially on questions about research/theory/concept?

In this example answer, after skimming the existing answers, I don't see how it matches the typical answer for this kind of question. Usually the very first sentence of the answer will point you to the concepts with links, in an affirmative tone, and rest of it just elaborate it more. On the other hands, answers that are just speculations from the answerer can't start with that tone, and however it tries to be concrete it cannot touch on the very core of the problem. This is the pattern I see in all of the existing answers.

What I mean is that, although technically you don't know without actually reading it, it is not worth to know either. There is a difference between not wanting to do homework because you want others do it for you, and not doing it because you have something more efficient to do than doing homework. The phenomenon that without giving the correct concept at the very beginning the reader will be confused is called schema. I think Buddhism also describes it as conceptual proliferation.

I have a feeling that reading them wouldn't help me write a better one, and I think you can actually know where it goes without reading them. Even if they have information that is useful or duplicate to my answer, that information usually should be rewritten completely, so it's hardly called as duplication.

Is this a good reason to not reading existing answers before giving your own?


Note: the example link is just an example. I'm trying to generalize to the whole network.
Related: Do you read others' answers?

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    this can depend on site quality norms. For example TWP has explicit requirement "Don't Repeat Others" which suggests that it is just safer to thoroughly check prior answers to avoid violating it – gnat Mar 26 at 9:15
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    You're meant to read other answers to prevent doing exactly what you're doing. You may think they don't answer the question or say what you want to, but you don't actually know that without reading them. – TheWanderer Mar 26 at 11:17
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    Aside of questions with more than 1 page of answers (30 answers), the reason why the answer box is put after all the answers is that future answerers are expected to read all of them before answering. – No Distraction Wizard Mar 26 at 12:41
  • @TheWanderer I think for questions about research/theory/concept, you can actually know what it says without reading them. Usually the very first sentence will point you to the concepts with links, in an affirmative tone. The rest of the answer is just an elaboration of that concepts. On the other hands, answers that are just speculations from the answerer's experience and knowledge can't start with that tone, and however it tries to be concrete it cannot touch on the very core of the problem. – Ooker Mar 26 at 15:29
  • @gnat I think for this specific kind of question, a good answer will have a common pattern, and bad answer will have another common pattern. In the existing answers, I see they match the latter. What do you think? – Ooker Mar 26 at 15:50
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    Well, "usually" doesn't mean "always". I have read some answers that are written like a "waterfall process" starting with some broad backgrounds and ends with the conclusion (which usually is hard to follow and needs TL;DR, but nevertheless answering the question) – No Distraction Wizard Mar 26 at 16:02
  • Code Golf is probably the one site that I know of where it's entirely appropriate (and even beneficial) to not read any answers before answering yourself. I can't think of any others off hand though. – Carcigenicate Mar 26 at 16:30
  • @GetAnswer ok, if this question is reopened I hope you can elaborate that into an answer. It sounds like what I'm looking for. A question: are those questions you are referring to also looking for concepts? – Ooker Mar 27 at 0:24
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    If a question has so many answers that you can’t be bothered to read through them all, maybe your time would be better spent on a question that hasn’t gotten a good answer yet. – ColleenV Mar 27 at 19:47
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There is never a good reason not to read the other answers before posting your own. There are only varying degrees of "I don't feel like doing the homework".

Is it possible to know what an answer says from just the first few sentences? Of course not; it is only possible to guess what an answer says from the first few sentences. Until you have read the whole thing, you don't actually know.

And regardless of how often you may guess right, that guess will always be a guess, not a fact.

On the other hands, answers that are just speculations from the answerer can't start with that tone, and however it tries to be concrete it cannot touch on the very core of the problem.

That sounds like an assumption to me. You're assuming that "just speculations from the answer" "cannot touch on the very core of the problem". I see no reason why not. Until you have read the answer, your assumption about it remains exactly that: an assumption. Not a fact, not "knowledge".

Pre-judging a post before actually reading the entirety of that post, based on a preconcieved bias applied to a portion of it, is a thing that we already have a term for.

Now, you can choose to not read the other answers or just superficially skim them all you want. But are you being a good participant in the site by doing so? Not on most sites.

What I mean is that, although technically you don't know without actually reading it, it is not worth to know either. There is a difference between not wanting to do homework because you want others do it for you, and not doing it because you have something more efficient to do than doing homework.

Have you ever had a teacher who responds well to "I have something more efficient to do than doing homework," when they ask for the homework they assigned? I'm guessing the answer is no. And to be honest, if the answer was "yes", then you just had a poor teacher (or a unique circumstance).

Given that, why should we be any different?

  • What I mean is that, although technically you don't know without actually reading it, it is not worth to know either. There is a difference between not wanting to do homework because you want others do it for you, and not doing it because you have something more efficient to do than doing homework. The phenomenon that without giving the correct concept at the very beginning the reader will be confused is called schema. I think Buddhism also describes it as conceptual proliferation. – Ooker Mar 27 at 16:33
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    @Ooker: "But how can I do this for the output of the screen?" That's ultimately a value judgment. As I said, you can do what you like. But if you wind up repeating other peoples' points or otherwise not improving the quality of the answers on the site, that's ultimately on you for not doing your homework. – Nicol Bolas Mar 27 at 16:37
  • What do you mean by the question? I've searched for it but no good result. If course I can do what I like, but I want to hear your opinion too. I think, when this happens, even repeating other people's points it is still worth, because it connects to the concept you introduce, let alone that it hardly happens. But I agree that you don't improve the quality of the existing answers. – Ooker Mar 27 at 16:45
  • @Ooker: "I think, when this happens, even repeating other people's points it is still worth" Other people don't agree. We're trying to build a knowledgebase here. A proper knowledgebase doesn't repeat information like that, since it serves no useful purpose. – Nicol Bolas Mar 27 at 16:47
  • I think we are missing each other point, because the useful purpose is mentioned right after I say that bit: "because it connects to the concept you introduce". Forming a uniform, standalone answer is necessary to comprehend it. – Ooker Mar 28 at 2:32
  • @Ooker: We're not missing each others' point; I don't believe your point is valid. You see some value in repeating a point; I do not. Especially when the repetition happens due to sheer laziness rather than legitimately having something to say (which would have to be different). – Nicol Bolas Mar 28 at 2:40
  • do you think it is reasonable to call matching a pattern and making quick judgement is sheer laziness? For example, I see that making quick judgement without careful reading is a "norm" in here. By "norm" I mean people don't agree with it as well, but accept it as something we cannot do better. For example, see closing a question as "only applicable to one specific site" because it's a general question stems from one specific example. – Ooker Mar 28 at 3:45
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    @Ooker: "For example, I see that making quick judgement without careful reading is a "norm" in here." Do you not see that you're casting yourself as being equally as bad as they are? They were "matching a pattern and making quick judgement" too; by your reasoning, that's perfectly fine behavior and your question should have remained closed. Prioritizing you "having something more efficient to do" over "doing the right thing" leads to making mistakes. So the question is this: do you want to be better than they are? – Nicol Bolas Mar 28 at 4:48
  • I think we all agree that if I want to be better than them, I should do the right thing. My concern is that they shouldn't expect others to be better than them, and critique others when they are just the same. – Ooker Mar 29 at 3:14
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    @Ooker: Clarification: many of the same folks who would decry careless close- or reopen-voters (rene, myself, etc) would also decry carelessly answering without reading previous answers. Just because there exist some folks with CV privileges on MSE that use them poorly (even to the extent of forming a recognizable pattern) does not mean they are the ones critiquing you here. So you don't need to be concerned about hypocrisy. – Nathan Tuggy Mar 29 at 9:47
  • @NathanTuggy well, this question was quickly closed by one mod (see the first revision). I don't intend to talk about hypocrisy, I'm just saying that making judgement by pattern is not careless, but a rational behavior. We should include it in our discussion, not exclude it. – Ooker Mar 30 at 3:54
  • @Ooker: Disagreement is not carelessness. What you describe is genuinely careless behavior. – Nicol Bolas Mar 30 at 4:07
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    @Ooker: Accepting a modest risk of mistakes in exchange for substantial time savings is rational. (Not always wise, but rational.) Doing that and then getting surprised when mistakes are actually made is not rational at all. So, in your particular case, you gambled (by skimming the other answers and guessing they were irrelevant) and lost (because they actually were relevant). You have to expect taking risks to sometimes backfire, and be ready to accept all the consequences accordingly. Don't expect anyone to say "oh, well, you were just trying to save 5 minutes, have an upvote anyway!" – Nathan Tuggy Mar 30 at 4:14
  • @NathanTuggy actually I just say that they shouldn't criticize me for taking gamble when they allow others to gamble, or even themselves. I also want to point out that with this specific kind of question, the win rate is 90%, and even if you lose, others still win. (The specific answer I link is deleted because of this critique, not because it actually contains duplication. FWIW, after posting this post I did return and read the answers there, and see no relevance in my answer (so I win?)) – Ooker Mar 30 at 7:06
  • @Ooker: "I just say that they shouldn't criticize me for taking gamble when they allow others to gamble, or even themselves." First, you have no idea if any particular "they" who is criticizing you is supportive of others who take that gamble. The system allows them to, not any individual person. Second, even if they would take that gamble, do you know if they would not be willing to be criticized for it? That they'll think something is wrong if they get called out for being incorrect about their assumptions? Because it isn't hypocrisy if they're willing to take the consequences. – Nicol Bolas Mar 30 at 13:20
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Tip 1

If life's too short to skim through 20 answers. Don't post the 21st.

Without a shadow of a doubt, you will be repeating what someone else or several other users have already said and regulars will have lost the willpower to read your contribution, unless you have a massive rep then lucky you! A user with a high rep might attract a few more readers.

Tip 2

Ctrl+F is your friend. Use it.

On the IPS question link posted by the OP, I searched for the following keywords: confirmation, kindness, sincere, sincerity = 0, insecure, validate = 1 so those bits I read; feeling = 15 results (OMG!) but I skim through them quite quickly. I now have a rough idea of what advice or what was said by other users, and they don't replicate anything I want to say, so I'm pretty sure my answer will be relatively "original".

P.S I didn't read Nicol's answer before posting mine.

P.P.S. Actually, I did.

P.P.P.S. Did I miss the point? That's because I didn't read the question carefully and instead went straight ahead and posted an answer.

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