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When should you delete your own answers? I'm not asking for only the case where your answer is wrong (which is discussed in this topic), but more generally, when it would be good practice to delete your own answers.

For example, consider the case where you have posted a correct answer, but there is another answer which is entirely similar and gained way more upvotes or has already been accepted. Would it be good to delete your answer then? On the one hand it would cause less clutter, but I'm not sure if deleting a correct answer is standard practice here.

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Pete Clark made a remark in another meta thread to the effect that often he believes two answers to have the same content, but the OP finds one answer much clearer than the other. In general, I think there is value in having two answers which explain things in a similar way as long as they are not actually identical. Even small differences in presentation may make a large difference in understanding; some users may find one clear and the other abstruse, whereas others may find that the opposite is true.

So I would recommend that you not delete your own answers unless the content in them really is actually identical to content in another answer (e.g. a computation which is exactly duplicated by part of a more complete answer).

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  • $\begingroup$ This sounds very sensible. It still leaves some room for interpretation, but I guess that's unavoidable. Thanks. $\endgroup$ – TMM Sep 12 '11 at 15:03
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    $\begingroup$ Also, when you delete an answer, you kill all the comments to that answer. Some of the comments may still be interesting, even if the answer is a duplicate. $\endgroup$ – GEdgar Sep 13 '11 at 14:45
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Pete Clark made a remark in another meta thread to the effect that often he believes two answers to have the same content, but the OP finds one answer much clearer. In general, I think there is value in having two answers which explain things in a similar way as long as they are not actually identical. Even small differences in presentation may make a large difference in understanding; some users may find one clear and the other abstruse, whereas others may find that the opposite is true.

So I would recommend that you not delete your own answers unless the content in them really is actually identical to content in another answer (e.g. a computation which is exactly duplicated by part of a more complete answer).

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    $\begingroup$ Ah-ha-ha-ha... :D $\endgroup$ – J. M. is a poor mathematician Sep 12 '11 at 15:47
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    $\begingroup$ (+1) I find this answer much clearer (than the other) ;) $\endgroup$ – TMM Sep 12 '11 at 16:54
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    $\begingroup$ Moreover, is simpler, and more to the essence of the matter. $\endgroup$ – Bill Dubuque Sep 16 '11 at 22:45
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    $\begingroup$ Now where have I heard that before? I guess it was some other thread on some other site. $\endgroup$ – Mateen Ulhaq Sep 27 '11 at 0:06
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Well, obviously when your post or comment is in error, you should delete it if only to spare yourself embarrassment. Of course, a deeper reason is to keep some amateur math student from being led awry by it.

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    $\begingroup$ The other thing to do is leave the answer, but insert an addendum saying it is wrong. $\endgroup$ – GEdgar Sep 16 '11 at 12:34
  • $\begingroup$ I agree with GEdgar here; sometimes I find it useful to see the way of reasoning, even if the result is not good, but the ansatz/Point of view is worth of considering. (Clearly this meets only such answers which contain some interesting exposition worth to consider) $\endgroup$ – Gottfried Helms Sep 18 '11 at 7:50

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