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An example

This question was asked earlier today. The accepted answer by the user "mathlove" was posted within minutes of asking. Answer 1

Now consider this question. The user "mathlove" also has a very similar answer here on an effectively identical question. Answer 2
While it's totally plausible that the user forgot that they posted this answer earlier on this question (hell, I myself might have a few similar answers like this), but my (cynical) self says that they chose to ignore this on purpose to gain a little extra rep because of how similar the answers look.

The question

My question is this, should we still post an answer regardless of the fact we already have an answer on a particular question if we know it to be duplicate? I personally feel it's wrong that we get a little extra rep from the same answers. What do you guys suggest?

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    $\begingroup$ Sometimes people even repost verbatim their own answers. Apparently that's still accepted behavior... $\endgroup$ – Najib Idrissi Mar 6 '15 at 14:21
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    $\begingroup$ I suggest rewriting this post so that it's not about a particular user, but about the behavioural pattern you observed. $\endgroup$ – user147263 Mar 6 '15 at 14:22
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    $\begingroup$ Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by laziness. $\endgroup$ – Asaf Karagila Mar 6 '15 at 14:22
  • $\begingroup$ @Woodface It's serves as I good example IMO. $\endgroup$ – AvZ Mar 6 '15 at 14:23
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    $\begingroup$ I added the heading "An example" to emphasise that this just an example. Hopefully that clears things up. $\endgroup$ – AvZ Mar 6 '15 at 14:55
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    $\begingroup$ There are plenty of reasons why this may occur. First, it is often easier to post a simple answer than it is to locate a prior-posted answer (esp. for answers with little natural language). Second, many users apparently do not follow (dupe) links, and will often post inferior versions of answers already in the dupe. Third, some users "evolve" their answers to FAQs, gradually improving them as the site evolves, linking them to related posts, improving the exposition based on knowledge gained from feedback, etc. Fourth, the SE dupe feature has so many problems that users may choose to ignore it. $\endgroup$ – Bill Dubuque Mar 6 '15 at 15:06
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    $\begingroup$ @BillDubuque #1 is not an excuse. I don't understand #2: if there is a dupe link, then the question has been closed, so how can someone post an inferior answer? If it hasn't been closed, but a link has been posted, then that one's on the people who post an answer without following the link, and I don't understand how that would then allow people to repost their own answer. #3 The website has an edit function. #4 As often, many words but no concrete argument (regarding the duplicate system). Users may choose to ignore whatever, it doesn't mean there won't be repercussions. $\endgroup$ – Najib Idrissi Mar 6 '15 at 15:25
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    $\begingroup$ @Najib These (and related points) have been discussed here at length many times over the years. No need to duplicate them here (since it would be quickly closed by you as a dupe!) Use the search feature. $\endgroup$ – Bill Dubuque Mar 6 '15 at 15:27
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    $\begingroup$ @Bill You seem to be confused. Policy can evolve over time, positions can change, arguments can no longer apply, new arguments can apply... Unlike the case for math. Not to mention that you've been systematically unable to provide links to these discussions. If you have nothing but poorly thought-out one-liners to contribute, please do not pollute this thread with useless noise. $\endgroup$ – Najib Idrissi Mar 6 '15 at 15:35
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    $\begingroup$ If I had it my way I would delete such answers upon sighting. Alas, there is no universal agreement that this is BAD FORM, so as a moderator my hands are very much tied. Some very high rep users do this habitually. It is possible to also do it accidentally after 1000 posts or so :-/. If I catch myself doing it I usually convert one to CW or delete it. If I had it my way... Well. If in the mood I still downvote such posts. $\endgroup$ – Jyrki Lahtonen Mar 6 '15 at 16:25
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    $\begingroup$ Well, Asaf's point still stands :-) In spite of sloth being one of the seven. $\endgroup$ – Jyrki Lahtonen Mar 6 '15 at 19:11
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    $\begingroup$ @NajibIdrissi Yet more strawmen arguments and ad hominem attacks. And you wonder why I stopped responding to your nonsense? $\endgroup$ – Bill Dubuque Mar 7 '15 at 0:38
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    $\begingroup$ @Bill What are you talking about? I didn't reply anything after your previous comment. Any moderator can confirm. I'm not wondering at all why you stopped responding to me, considering that I didn't write anything for you to reply to. Please keep your promise and stop engaging in fruitless discussion. $\endgroup$ – Najib Idrissi Mar 7 '15 at 7:43
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    $\begingroup$ (And I understand that you're very proud of having read "On the art of being right", but please try to make actual arguments, instead of slinging around magical formulas as if they had any value outside a high school debate tournament. This is a math website, I thought logic was part of math... Simply writing" strawman" or "ad hominem" without explanation has the semantical value of blowing a raspberry) $\endgroup$ – Najib Idrissi Mar 7 '15 at 8:14
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    $\begingroup$ @NajibIdrissi Wow, he actually trotted out a pair of them for you. From personal experience, I had thought one at a time was the norm... $\endgroup$ – rschwieb Mar 8 '15 at 21:38
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Let's isolate the perceived and potential issues here.

  1. A user knows that the question is a duplicate, but does not vote to close.

Whether or not to vote is up to their judgment; nobody is obliged to cast votes of any kind. Abstaining is always an option.

  1. A user knows that the question is a duplicate, but posts an answer.

Also a judgment call. They may disagree with the question being in fact a duplicate; there are subtle differences concerning proof verification questions, for one thing. They may think that the new instance of the question deserves a more detailed answer than the first one received (e.g., it appears that the hint given previously would not suffice for this case).

  1. They get extra reputation for similar answers.

They don't give that reputation to themselves, it's generated by the votes of others. Perhaps the voters should consider whether upvoting answers to duplicates is a good idea. But it's their decision.

Summary

If you believe that it's wrong to post an answer to a known duplicate, then don't do it.


One instance where I would expect moderators to be involved is a user copy-pasting the same answer to multiple questions at the same time, after finding similar questions via search. This is something that happens on Stack Overflow, but fortunately not so much (or not at all) here.

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    $\begingroup$ Re: last paragraph, it has happened at least once on Math.SE (a user posted the exact same answer to three different questions within an hour). $\endgroup$ – Najib Idrissi Mar 6 '15 at 16:47
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    $\begingroup$ re 2 There is an additional point here, namely, do they mention the near-dupe/related post or not. If they do, I for one have little problem, and none of your points seems to go against this. (One could construct cases if the new instance is "hint only" while the old one is complete.) If they don't, well. Related to this re 3: "They don't give that reputation to themselves, it's generated by the votes of others. Perhaps the voters should consider whether upvoting answers to duplicates is a good idea." An issue here can be that the voters at least initially might in fact not know it is a dupe. $\endgroup$ – quid Mar 6 '15 at 19:23

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