To clarify, this is not a question about summarizing or plagiarizing, or on answers that repeat comments. Three of us responded to Word for "parents with children who have moved out"? ; I think Mitch's comment and coleopterist's and my answers were posted all within about 30 seconds, and I don't think any of us were aware of the others.

My answer was the last to be posted by 5-10 seconds, and if it were a total duplicate I'd simply delete it. In this case, however, I think my answer is more complete and links to a more reliable reference; regardless of voting/accepting, I would want that information to be included somewhere in the thread. What is the accepted etiquette?

  • Keep the answer and move on
  • Delete the answer and add the additional information as a comment on the accepted answer
  • Delete the answer and add the additional information by editing the accepted answer
  • 3
    I don't think any of these would be a breach of etiquette, although you'd want to be most careful with the third option. I've done the first two, and sometimes #2 has morphed into #3, usually after some dialog in the comments running something like this: "@helpful_commenter: That's a good point! Thanks. - answerer" "answerer, Free free to add it to your answer, if you want. - helpful_commenter" "I just did; thanks again - answerer" (then those comments are sometimes subsequently removed).
    – J.R.
    Commented Mar 20, 2013 at 18:22
  • 3
    Keep the answer and move on. Let people vote which one is marginally better. People know that they can vote for more than one answer, don't they?
    – Mitch
    Commented Oct 11, 2013 at 0:09

2 Answers 2


Important caveat: The accepted answer isn't by any means the 'best', merely the one that OP felt met his specific requirements.

Actual answer: I would consider it impolite to edit somebody else's accepted answer merely to expand on the point, though others certainly disagree. A specific link would probably fit best as a comment, but there really is no need to delete an answer you feel is good merely because somebody else posted the same information a minute earlier; leave it to compete for votes on its merits (unless the question is so cluttered than a viewer won't have time to read all the answers before moving on). If in a few weeks your answer has no votes and somebody else's has several, then it may be best to delete yours and put the factual 'improvements' in a comment on the other.

(Full disclosure: exactly this happened to me on A (highfalutin) word for a highfalutin word? : my answer was fuller (and typo-free), so I didn't even consider deleting it because a comment and a competing answer had appeared while I was composing it. I wouldn't expect anybody to do so for one of my comments/answers.)

  • 4
    I agree: If the answer is not a CW, editing it to add something its author didn't say is not correct. Edits should be used to make the post clearer (e.g. fixing typos), or eventually to add links to relevant resources.
    – avpaderno
    Commented Mar 24, 2013 at 10:11

I agree with TimLymington's answer: similar answers should stand on their own merits. This came up in a couple of recent posts, where a user posted criticism of “repeat” answers.

Does 'rhythm' have one or two syllables?
Is there a word for the act of clearing one's throat?

In those cases, the criticism attracted down-votes that made it difficult for good answers to rise to the top, even though Jon's answer (in my opinion) was the best and most ELU-appropriate response. I discussed this in chat with KitFox and we agreed that, for users encountering similar posts like this, it's better etiquette to flag a moderator than to post critical comments.

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