The OP raises an important point here and I quote " i'd like to reward all of you because all answers are nice and helpful, but this is not possible".

This got me thinking, since for that question in particular, I found that all the three answers were helpful. I have also had dilemma/confusion in the past whenever I wanted to choose one particular answer. I also believe that this will also drastically decrease the FGIW phenomenon. I would like to know what the community thinks about this. It would be good if answerers can highlight the pros and/ or cons of accepting multiple answers.

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    $\begingroup$ It will be ironic if I accept only one answer to this question. :) $\endgroup$ – user17762 May 24 '12 at 23:52
  • $\begingroup$ If you are concerned about the FGITW phenomenon, you can do your part to discourage it by bestowing the check mark of acceptance upon the later, more comprehensive answer over the quicker, shorter one. For example this vs. this :) $\endgroup$ – Rahul May 25 '12 at 5:54
  • $\begingroup$ @RahulNarain My concern is more with the fact that sometimes it is difficult to choose one particular answer. But true, I have too been guilty (on many occasions) of FGITW :). $\endgroup$ – user17762 May 25 '12 at 5:58
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    $\begingroup$ This is in pleasant contrast to some questioners who get a perfect answer (as attested by votes), and don't accept it even if no other answer is given. On the other hand it is relly heart-warming to see the lengths to which most users go to show their gratitude, as this very question illustrates. As an aside, apart from the amusing "reputation" game played here, I ( and probably many others) get private emails proving that reputation in the real sense is impacted by behaviour on this site. And the relationship between both notions of "reputation" is quite interesting... $\endgroup$ – Georges Elencwajg May 25 '12 at 9:36
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    $\begingroup$ It will be even more ironic if you don't accept any. ;) $\endgroup$ – Jonathan Gleason May 29 '12 at 4:08
  • $\begingroup$ Is it too late for me to reply to this post? $\endgroup$ – AlanH Mar 26 '13 at 8:48

This has been proposed on MSO over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over again (and possibly, even more). The answer is, ironically, always one: no.

I think this is because of the SE structure where usually one answer is what is being looked for. If you really want to give some nice feedback to those users, you could up-vote their answers and/or assign a bounty.

About the FGIW problem... It's true that the first answer sometimes gets upvoted more, but I've often seen answers being posted after the first one being upvoted much more, even answers posted by me.

Jeff has also suggested a blog post once: Mixing Oil and Water: Authorship in a Wiki World.

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    $\begingroup$ If you think I missed some points in my answer, let me know, I'll edit it. :) $\endgroup$ – Alenanno May 24 '12 at 23:49
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    $\begingroup$ Unfortunately, bounty-giving is very limited too. $\endgroup$ – user23211 May 25 '12 at 17:27
  • $\begingroup$ @ymar Upvoting is not a bad way to reward people. Accepting is not intended as a simple reward, but also as an extra one because it was the answer that helped you the most. $\endgroup$ – Alenanno May 25 '12 at 18:08
  • $\begingroup$ Sometimes there is no way of deciding which answer helped me the most. I'm not advocating multiple accepts though. I'm just saying that the bounty solution does not always work. $\endgroup$ – user23211 May 25 '12 at 18:12
  • $\begingroup$ @ymar It depends on the answer, but luckily on a site like Maths, you can decide what helped you the most. I don't think there are that many solutions to your kinds of problems, even though it's not my field. :) $\endgroup$ – Alenanno May 25 '12 at 18:19
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    $\begingroup$ Well, it has happened to me that I was unable to decide which answer to accept and to finally accept at random. $\endgroup$ – user23211 May 25 '12 at 18:21
  • $\begingroup$ @ymar Try not to accept at random. Remember that you are responsible of the answer you accept, because future visitors will also rely on that. :) $\endgroup$ – Alenanno May 25 '12 at 18:23
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    $\begingroup$ I did try. It's not true that mathematical problems always have one solution. Also, some questions are manifold and it may happen that one answer contains the solution to one part of the question and another answer to another part. It's difficult to decide in some cases. $\endgroup$ – user23211 May 25 '12 at 18:28
  • $\begingroup$ @ymar Ok, but the solutions are quite limited. If the answers are not complete, comment and ask them to improve their answers. You're not forced to accept if the answers don't satisfy you. $\endgroup$ – Alenanno May 25 '12 at 18:31
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    $\begingroup$ It may not be possible for them to improve the answers if they don't know how to do it. I don't think there's anything wrong about partial answers. When I have two answers that complement each other to give me a full solution to my problem, I'm happy with it. It doesn't seem right to ask one of the answerers to copy the other answer and put it in theirs to make it complete. $\endgroup$ – user23211 May 25 '12 at 18:36
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    $\begingroup$ In that case you can also ask them both permission to get the content into a CW answer, attribute it properly (inviting to upvote those answers too) and then accept it to show the complete solution. This is one of the few cases where the CW is a very good solution. $\endgroup$ – Alenanno May 25 '12 at 18:46
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    $\begingroup$ That seems like too much trouble. If the answers are already there and are reasonably formed, the benefits of such an action (although obvious) would not outweigh the necessary effort. We're all volunteers here. I try to do my best to make my questions and answers good. It often takes me more than an hour to compose a post. I don't think I have the motivation necessary to merge two different answers, which may use different notation and be on different levels on generality into one. $\endgroup$ – user23211 May 25 '12 at 18:55
  • $\begingroup$ The benefits will outweigh the efforts but... what efforts? If the answers are good, all you need to do is copy-paste and fix here and there. You don't have to re-write it from the start; it won't take you an hour. $\endgroup$ – Alenanno May 25 '12 at 20:12
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    $\begingroup$ Copy-pasting and fixing here and there for the sole purpose of having an answer to accept doesn't seem a good idea to me at all. (1) It doesn't make sense to post the same text twice on the same page; (2) copy-pasting and fixing here and there is very unlikely to create a good post; (3) a self-accepted self-answer is not displayed as the first answer. What would make sense is creating an entirely new post incorporating the ideas from the partial answers in a logical way. But that, as I said, is not an action you can require users to take. $\endgroup$ – user23211 May 25 '12 at 20:29
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    $\begingroup$ Sorry but you're mistaken. It is a good idea. It's exactly what the Community Wiki is for: collaboration among users. The content is not simply posted twice, it's ri-elaborated into a single answer so future visitors don't need to explore the answers. You 're not forced to do it, it's a favor you do to other people. If the answers are good, the CW is going to be good too. That said, we can simply agree to disagree, we don't need to discuss this further, but I can assure you I know what I'm saying. Other mods will probably say the same thing. $\endgroup$ – Alenanno May 25 '12 at 20:59

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