I found a couple of similar questions. But don't think any of it answers my query. But if this is a duplicate I apologise and please point me towards the original.

On a couple of occasions now I posted answers that are almost identical to one that was posted minutes before me. This happens due to a poor internet connection that goes down without notice and I don't realise it is out till I click "post answer". At this point I would realise another answer has been posted a couple of minutes before me and it is very identical. This happened today too (although in this case I was 10 minutes late!!).

Should I delete mine?

Thanks in advance.


While your issue happens due to a poor internet connection, mine happens because I am slow, methodical, and given to working the problems out on the paper before posting. I am not the fastest gun.

I gave up on being fastest, and have a slew of deletes either due to rushing to an embarrassing response that you will never see (early on in my experience here), or deleted precisely because my answer added zero value beyond that which was provided in other answers.

My norm now is that I pick a problem I like, and I solve it. If someone topped my potential response, and I do not respond myself, I walk away richer for the experience with another delay in brain atrophy due to lack of work on random problems in my swing set.

What Gerry Myerson said is my standard protocol. More often than not, I just never post my response due to redundancy.

You may however consider an alternative. If your response to a question really excites you, and there has been no other activity on the question, then you may consider improving your post to a level that supersedes the quality of all other posts. You are allowed to edit your post, and if you have the time and desire to modify your rushed response into a thing of top notch mathematical clarity, then you should do so. In the end the poster, this community, and the world will thank you for the effort.

  • $\begingroup$ Thanks for that. I will keep this in mind. I agree with you. Like you I'm not here to earn reputation I'm here to learn. So I have no issues working on a problem and not getting credit for it. I shall delete duplicate answers in the future. But I think I should keep the one quoted in the question since I think it adds something of a better explanation. What do you think?? $\endgroup$ – Ishfaaq Mar 2 '14 at 6:12
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    $\begingroup$ In any case, I would say don't delete a post like that immediately. Wait some time. This is not a time trial. You are allowed to post your content regardless of timing issues. If after a day or so you feel compelled to delete, then do so. You may consider that the OP still has not even read the responses, and you are free to improve your response to a higher level. In the end, you are under no obligation to delete anything, it is your call, and the rep comes naturally from doing the right thing, that being providing great answers. :) $\endgroup$ – J. W. Perry Mar 2 '14 at 6:17

If your answer adds no value beyond what is already provided by earlier answers then I would say, yes, delete it.

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    $\begingroup$ It is worth emphasizing that the judgement "adds value beyond what is already provided" is often a highly subjective one. So it is advisable to explicitly say what your answer adds if it is very similar to another. This not only helps to guide readers, but also avoids downvotes issued due to duplicity. $\endgroup$ – Bill Dubuque Mar 3 '14 at 16:02

My opinion is: If you see a questions that already has a good answer and you don't see anyway to add anything that might be beneficial to the questioner, then I would refrain from answering.

If you see a question that, in your opinion, does not have an adequate answer, and you believe that you can provide one, then just start writing one. If you see an answer that looks good, but you believe that you can say it a bit better, then just post an additional answer. In these situations I might (might not) also acknowledge the other answers. So you could say: "To say things a bit differently from the other answer ..." or "X has already given a great answer, but to point out another angle on this ..."

If you are writing your answer, and someone beats you to it, then just continue writing your answer and post it. I wouldn't worry about having two similar answers. Note, for example, that some people will very quickly give an answer that is vague or lacking after which they will edit it multiple times to make it better. That way they "get to be first". I wouldn't be discouraged by this. Now, of course, if you have just been working on your answer for 2 sec. when that other answer shows up, then you might consider not giving your answer. But if you have been working on it for a while, then just keep going if you want. You can of course also ask yourself if there might be a different way to answer the question. The smartest hint to a question isn't always what helps the questioner most.

I say all this partly so that new people who are starting out providing answers wouldn't feel discouraged just because they aren't fast. Maybe when one gets a bit more experience your approach to when to / when not to answer questions might change.

  • $\begingroup$ Interesting. Although this contradicts what other users had to say. I'll think about it next time.. $\endgroup$ – Ishfaaq Mar 3 '14 at 14:54
  • $\begingroup$ I would supplement this by noting that it is a good idea to add to the answer that it says essentially the same as another answer, but you did not notice the other one until too late. This will make it clear what happened, and means that people will not be confused by answers that seem the same. $\endgroup$ – Tobias Kildetoft Mar 4 '14 at 8:40

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