I am referring to this question:

Given $1/x<E$, how to get an inequality of the form $x>$ something?

I started to answer the question, but as I wrote my answer, someone was commenting with the OP and I changed my answer as new information came to light (instead of two cases, only one, so just deleted one case). It is obviously a simple question that the commenter could have answered. When I realized that the commenter was getting more information, was it wrong of me to continue to write my answer and post it? I almost feel like I "stole" the question, but I started before I realized the person was gathering information. I debated deleting it for a couple minutes before posting it.

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    $\begingroup$ Refreshing the question, someone else has a very similar answer, I guess we posted it at the same time (looking at the time stamp). $\endgroup$ – zagadka314 Dec 5 '15 at 15:17
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    $\begingroup$ Ask yourself: Am I here to help people? Or am I here for the useful and worth-having reputation points? If the latter then no, you should flag the comments instead. If the former then yes. $\endgroup$ – Alec Teal Dec 5 '15 at 16:09
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    $\begingroup$ I like to answer questions because I would like to help others, especially since I have asked so many questions, and I feel I must do that to be an ethical member of the community. The only thing I wanted enough reputation for was to thumb things and comment anywhere. Now that I have that, whats the point of reputation? It seems kind of pointless to me, honestly… $\endgroup$ – zagadka314 Dec 5 '15 at 16:13
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    $\begingroup$ It is! SE has taught me that it is AMAZING what people will do for imaginary internet points. If you're interested in helping people though you may want to look for other mathematics forums and stuff, SE has this "idealised model" to be like a wikipedia for questions (but with ads) and discourages communicating with members (comments are often deleted, I disagree with a few people who flag side-topics or related questions in comments, and a few mods that delete them, all chat is public) so forth. $\endgroup$ – Alec Teal Dec 5 '15 at 16:18
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    $\begingroup$ Also don't feel obliged to help, there's a fairly large group of old users who have been keeping-up-the-pace with questions for years now. Asking questions is an important part of the SE model. $\endgroup$ – Alec Teal Dec 5 '15 at 16:19
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    $\begingroup$ @AlecTeal ...there are no ads on math.SE besides the community ads (for which you can vote, typically it's for other SE sites and useful tools like detexify or sage). Communication isn't exactly discouraged (extended discussion is) but there's a strong incentive in making sure that every useful piece of information eventually ends up either in the question or the answer. $\endgroup$ – Najib Idrissi Dec 5 '15 at 16:29
  • $\begingroup$ @NajibIdrissi oh it must just be SO then, adblocker here so I can't test. (for privacy reasons) $\endgroup$ – Alec Teal Dec 5 '15 at 16:30
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    $\begingroup$ @NajibIdrissi I can say that on most forums I frequent I have made a friend that I now have on some other IM, or email every now and then. In my years of SE and SO this has never happened, why? Because communication is discouraged. $\endgroup$ – Alec Teal Dec 5 '15 at 16:31
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    $\begingroup$ @AlecTeal I'm not sure what that's supposed to prove. It's not a friend-making website. I haven't made any friends on my bank's website but the site fills its purpose just fine regardless. $\endgroup$ – Najib Idrissi Dec 5 '15 at 16:43
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    $\begingroup$ @AlecTeal I feel it is quite possible to make friends on the sites here. Anyway that feels tangential. $\endgroup$ – quid Dec 5 '15 at 21:50
  • $\begingroup$ I have actually met people whom I encountered first on this site. There is a general frowning upon 'unnecessary' interaction but I can't say it has really affected any interaction I have had here. $\endgroup$ – copper.hat Dec 9 '15 at 20:18
  • $\begingroup$ Well, guys, the last 8 comments are off-topic, I just wanted to comment OP's question. So please ignore me, as this is unrelated to you. Personally, sometimes I am trying to guide the OP in the comments, and sometimes other users just post a complete solution, that clearly the OP will not understand fully at that stage of his/her own reasoning and just copy it. This upsets me for 5 seconds, then I stop caring. But I am glad someone is asking themselves this question. $\endgroup$ – Silvia Ghinassi Dec 11 '15 at 1:25

Don't worry; this happens all the time. An elementary question is posted, and 3-5 nearly identical answers and comments appear simultaneously. Someone compared the situation to the arrival of free pizza at an anime convention. It's only natural.

If there's an issue there, it's that none of answerers felt like improving the chances of this Q&A being found by others. Writing a more specific title than "basic question in inequation" would be a start.

  • $\begingroup$ Thank you for your answer $\endgroup$ – zagadka314 Dec 5 '15 at 16:13
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    $\begingroup$ +1 for answering a question that others were discussing in the comments. $\endgroup$ – Micah Dec 7 '15 at 15:39
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    $\begingroup$ Many with big scores are generously commenting... to feed into answers by those who may be building a score. It is within the rules, does not load borrower's conscience heavily. $\endgroup$ – Narasimham Dec 7 '15 at 17:25

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