I recently answered this question, with an initial brief explanation. I then added the code and the additional clarification of what failed with the existing code. I saw that another person had posted a similar initial answer, a minute after mine. After another twenty seconds or so, their post soon had the exact same fixed code as mine. I'm not accusing them of stealing my answer, but isn't it a bit unfair that theirs was marked as correct? I don't care about the reputation aspect, but I know people posting essentially duplicate answers has been an issue brought up here in the past, and it upsets me a bit that even though mine was posted first, his was marked as correct though it contained duplicate information.

Perhaps there could be a way to mark answers as duplicate? Or split the checkmark into chunks?

  • Related, maybe duplicate (and famous question) - meta.stackexchange.com/questions/9731/… Jul 27, 2011 at 1:27
  • 1
    @Daniel: My issue is the duplication, not the speed.
    – Cyclone
    Jul 27, 2011 at 1:30
  • I was once going to ask for a feature to make questions say "There are (nn) people currently writing answers to this question" if applicable. I can't remember why I decided not to post it now.
    – user50049
    Jul 27, 2011 at 1:57
  • 6
    @Tim: So everyone backs off at the same time, and nobody answers. :P
    – user102937
    Jul 27, 2011 at 2:11
  • 2
    @Tim Post: That's a fun idea! Then people could make little zombie armies of fake users that "start writing" an answer and scare everyone else off to buy more time.
    – McCannot
    Jul 27, 2011 at 2:15
  • @Robert Harvey, Thanks, that's why I didn't post it.
    – user50049
    Jul 27, 2011 at 2:49

5 Answers 5


This is old territory in the general case, but I can say one thing about the specific question that prompted you to post this: If the same correct answer can be provided by several people within five minutes of the question being posted, it's probably a trivial answer and not worth fussing over. Even if he did copy from you, so what? To be blunt, you're not providing any really unique insight on a question like this. Sorry, but it's true.

Yes, I agree that it's unfair that you were first and the other answer got accepted, but really. This is popcorn. Take your upvotes and move on. The questioner can accept whatever they like, and it's only +15 anyway. Go answer more questions! Lord knows there's enough of them.

  • Like I said though, it's more the principle of the thing than the rep
    – Cyclone
    Jul 27, 2011 at 1:38
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    @Cyclone: Yes, but the first principle of accepting answers is a hard line in the sand that the questioner can accept anything they like, including nothing at all. This is why requests for community accepts on abandoned questions are shot down all the time. Some people use that privilege irresponsibly, yes, but them's the breaks.
    – McCannot
    Jul 27, 2011 at 1:42
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    I think the only real problem here would be if they accept a clearly wrong answer (which would still be well within their right). Jul 27, 2011 at 8:34
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    Even if he did copy from you, so what? Well, in that case it is plagiarism, if it is not tolerated in the "real world" why would it be here? IMO, the Flag option should be use, unless the answer is so trivial that it fits on one line.
    – ForceMagic
    Jun 21, 2012 at 7:36

Time difference between your answer and the other user's answer is only 1 minute. Most probably, you both would have typed the answer almost at the same time. I see this happening lots of times in questions tagged under .

When there are lots of people knowledgeable about a particular technology and there is only one or two options for a given problem. The answers might look exactly the same. That doesn't mean one person is copying the answer from the other.

I have posted answers to questions under and have immediately found an answer posted similar to my answer. Here is an example. This was under a question tagged under to which I happened to know the answer.

I usually delete my answers if there is an exact duplicate. There is no point in having exact duplicate answers. That's just my opinion. I am not here to gain the reputation points. I would like to enjoy my stay here and learn whenever possible. Most importantly try to help others, as much as possible.

So, if you are seriously not concerned about reputation points. Quit worrying about it. Just enjoy the feeling that you helped someone.

Hey, at least you have more upvotes than the accepted answer!

  • As an aside... even if you don't care about the rep for its own sake, gaining up to (currently) 20k will give you access to more things that may be useful for your goals of improving the site.
    – McCannot
    Jul 27, 2011 at 2:24

From a questioner's point of view, I have in the past asked a trivial syntax question, and got three, essentially identical answers within a few seconds. I did vote up all the answers, but in the circumstances there was absolutely no point at looking at the timing of the answers - all this showed was who was the fastest typist. I accepted one of the three answers because it gave a very specific reference to documentation in addition to the code answer. This represented value add to me, as I had not been able to find the information (again trivial, but I was just not seeing it).


Given that the time stamps on the two answers are slightly more than one minute apart, I am inclined to give duplicate answerer the benefit of the doubt. It is likely that he was writing his answer the same time you were writing yours (although a quick copy-paste and fixup is possible, the wording in his answer is different).

That said, it is customary to award the accepted answer checkmark to the one who posted the correct answer first. I upvoted your answer; that should take some of the sting away.


In cases of syntax errors, there is exactly one correct way to answer the question (e.g. "the parameters must be in the order foo, QUUX, bar, baz and no other way"), and it's well documented. Since all the correct answers will resemble the documentation, it is trivial to conclude that they will also resemble each other, especially if they are corrections to the OP's code.

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