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I came across a late answer by a new user to a question, which I link here; and I have a dilemma how to respond.

  • The formatting was pretty bad (read: non-existent), so I edited it and commented, suggesting the user to learn mathjax.
  • However, this is not the only problem. The answer essentially contains a replication of the work shown by the OP. There is no other new material, or any new ideas which could help people. I feel like I need to downvote, but at the same time, I also realise that a new user may be trying to gain confidence in using this site by answering some questions known to them.
    So my question is : should I downvote, or not? Just to note, the question is NOT a PSQ.
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  • $\begingroup$ I have added some tags to your question - I think that at least (new-users) should be used here. As far as the other tags go, feel free to remove some of them if you prefer - depending on how relevant you find those particular aspects to your question. $\endgroup$ Jun 21 at 13:38
  • $\begingroup$ Thank you @MartinSleziak. I have removed late-answers as they would have no bearing on my reaction. It just happened to be a late answer. $\endgroup$ Jun 21 at 13:45
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    $\begingroup$ But actually, insipid, any time a new user answers a question from years ago, they are held to a higher bar than when answering a more contemporary. When does this apply? It applies when the question being newly answered has already receive valid answers, years prior; hence an answer from a new user must say something not already addressed by the original answers. Bumping an old post can only be justified if the new answer adds a novel answer. So the tag: [late-answers], "So I came across a late answer by a new user to a question," is hugely relevant, and should be restored. $\endgroup$
    – amWhy
    Jun 21 at 15:27
  • $\begingroup$ The user may be trying to expand the first answer, except they've done it in a second solution: math.stackexchange.com/a/4477337/29335 $\endgroup$
    – rschwieb
    Jun 21 at 15:45
  • $\begingroup$ @rschwieb are they expanding it tho? Isn’t it literally the same thing, again? $\endgroup$ Jun 21 at 15:48
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    $\begingroup$ Ok @amWhy I understand now. Ty $\endgroup$ Jun 21 at 15:49
  • $\begingroup$ No problem, @insipidintegrator. :-) $\endgroup$
    – amWhy
    Jun 21 at 15:51
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    $\begingroup$ @insipidintegrator What i saw didn't seem to be verbatim, no, but regardless I was not commenting on the quality, just on the engagement. $\endgroup$
    – rschwieb
    Jun 21 at 16:01
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    $\begingroup$ Duplicate posts of answers in the same thread, separated by an hour, is no better than posting the same question an on site, an hour later. $\endgroup$
    – amWhy
    Jun 21 at 16:56
  • $\begingroup$ Leaving aside the late answer circumstance and quality checks thereof, I would say that the second issue alone (if it's as stated) is enough for making the case that it isn't an answer. For the sake of the answerer and of the people who will be reviewing the flag, I would write that you can't answer a question by just replicating a failed (or allegedly failed) attempt: you need to either use a different approach or explain why the attempt actually works. $\endgroup$ Jun 22 at 10:51
  • $\begingroup$ @SassatelliGiulio IIRC, it was exactly copy-pasted from after the line ‘I am trying…for the following’ till before ‘However…’, omitting the words ‘My work so far:’. Just some context. $\endgroup$ Jun 22 at 12:07
  • $\begingroup$ @insipidintegrator For future reference, with regards to amWhy's comment, changing the tags indicates a different focus for the meta question. If you left off the late-answers tag, that would indicate to me that you wanted a discussion about similar answers in general. From your wording, I think including the tag is correct, and you should also have included the specific-answer tag as well. Anyway, good first meta question! $\endgroup$ Jul 1 at 22:51

1 Answer 1

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MSE is a difficult site to use. You have to know a variety of soft skills to have any chance of being able to partake in this community with ease. With that in mind, I think we can be forgiving and also perhaps more rewarding to new users.

I believe there is really nothing much more this particular answerer could have done because the question is simply a solution verification. The maximum one could really say is "yeah your solution is right".

Due to the nature of the question, I suppose the optimal solution is to close the question, leave a comment on the answer informing the required and forget about it.

Tl;dr: I think you've mde the right move.

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    $\begingroup$ I suppose the optimal solution is to close the question, leave a comment on the answer informing the required In this case, closing the question as a result of viewing this answer is irrational. One would not normally spend time closing an extremely old question unless there was an exceptional reason to. Leaving a comment is indeed essential, downvoting is appropriate (it could be done whenever the voter was ready to) because nothing new was contributed ("not useful"). Then further monitoring can be done to lift the downvote, if the voter is of a mind the answer is likely to improve. $\endgroup$
    – rschwieb
    Jun 21 at 15:50
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    $\begingroup$ If it is closed then the probability of such situation occurring repeatedly in the future is 0. $\endgroup$ Jun 21 at 15:54
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    $\begingroup$ If we closed every question to prevent empty copycat-ish answers then we'd have to close all questions over a certain age. In a case like this the reasonable thing is to treat the solution, not the question. $\endgroup$
    – rschwieb
    Jun 21 at 16:01
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    $\begingroup$ This particular question is very special because it's a solution verification, I don't think there was any other way it infomration could be added into it. I'm sayingg to close old questions which are incompatible with the current notion of quality rather than trying to keep them a museum piece for lack of better description $\endgroup$ Jun 21 at 16:19
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    $\begingroup$ Wouldn’t reviewing (say) 300k old questions just to close, say, 20k or even less, be a potential waste of moderator time? $\endgroup$ Jun 21 at 17:13
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    $\begingroup$ Well a few things come to mind 1) (as insipidintegrator just mentioned) don't spend unnecessary effort closing/deleting old questions because it is a) harder to give rationale for and b) takes away from their time addressing the higher volume of new questions; 2) Nobody asked about the question anyway, the deal is that the answer is low-quality and by a new user. In view of the second thing, we should probably get back on-topic and forget about discussing the question. Closure of old questions and solution-verification are both messy subjects, and do not need to be mixed in here. $\endgroup$
    – rschwieb
    Jun 21 at 17:22
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    $\begingroup$ I'm not saying to go and do a search and destroy but rather should be closed as they are seen. For example, you brought this one up today, so it should be closed. If you keep it again open, then later it can be answered again.. @insipidintegrator $\endgroup$ Jun 21 at 17:32

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