Several times, there are questions that are not exact duplicates, but happen to have very similar answers. What is the correct protocol? Is it appropriate to cut-and-paste an answer and link to the original, so that if it doesn't get merged, it sticks, and if it does, it's clear how to clean it up? This just came up twice in 5 minutes for me, and I want to make sure I'm not "gaming anything" by posting an answer twice, today in particular to "my django thing isn't working" to which I respond with a checklist -- the problem is different, but the answer is similar. Cases in point for me today are this and this. Still absorbin' the culture here...

1 Answer 1


If the questions are completely distinct and not duplicates then the correct response would be to answer the question on the question page. You should also link to your previous answer and copy out the relevant information.

Something like

A similar issue was approached here:

I solved it by using XYZ

"When confronted with QRS, you should really use the < InsertPatternHere > model. It solves the issue by using < magic >. I have helpful and explanatory links here, here and here. I've also finished my answer with a < poignant yet witty rejoinder || cautionary note >.

In your case, there are relevant differences of Foo and Bar. However, the solution will still work because of < some brilliant reason >.

In this way, they are still separate answers. This is important because the OP may later reveal that one or the other question is actually not what you originally thought it was. Additionally, it helps users who found there way here from a Bing search because the answer they want will be right on the page in front of them, rather than requiring an additional blind-link-click to find some other page that might have the answer.

  • cool, this is what i was hoping was the case. blockquote \> the copy and link to it so that it's obvious, so that it can be cleaned up later if it does turn out to be a dup.
    – eruciform
    Jul 21, 2010 at 16:18
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    @eruciform You very much should not copy out the entire previous response. You should copy only the fix. The context relevant data (even if it could be helpful) should be left behind, and you should add new context relevant stuff.
    – devinb
    Jul 21, 2010 at 16:22
  • @devinb - of course, not the whole thing, just the relevant bit, and explain the difference and how it relates to the question at hand. i misphrased. however, it brings up a related question - what if there is no difference in the context or the answer. should i just post a link and say "solved here"?
    – eruciform
    Jul 21, 2010 at 17:33
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    @eruciform If the questions are the same, they should be marked as duplicate. If they are different but the solution is the same, then the contextual stuff is what makes the difference in the response, and that's why it should be handwritten each time.
    – devinb
    Jul 21, 2010 at 17:35
  • @devinb - what if the question is different, but the context and solution are identical. take my posted example in which i've given the same checklist to fix django-not-working problems of all sorts. totally different questions, different contexts, but the checklist remains basically the same... i'm probably nitpicking here, just trying to do The Right Thing<sup>TM</sup>
    – eruciform
    Jul 21, 2010 at 17:54
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    @eruciform you handled those perfectly. They are completely separate answers with the same (ultimate) content. That's what it should be. Each answer is a solution to the problem posed. Well done!
    – devinb
    Jul 21, 2010 at 18:00

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