I frequently run into questions which have multiple answer posts, two or more of which are saying the same thing. Sometimes this is valuable. Each post might contain a nugget that another doesn't, or they may say the same thing from different perspectives, or even just use different words to describe the same thing — but which one reader might find easier to understand than another reader.

However, sometimes the answer truly adds nothing new to the existing posts.

What is the community standard here? Ignore? Downvote? Flag (maybe as low quality)? ...?

2 Answers 2


Good question, and you might be interested in What to do when someone posts an exact same answer after your answer? over on the SE-wide Meta.

Although I don't have a one-size-fits-all answer, I do have two general approaches:

  1. Try to be generous and understand how this answer might offer something new. If there is—maybe an explanation as it pertains to a different genre, a different way of explaining it, connecting it to another concept, etc.—then I'll typically upvote and move on my way. I think this is one of the strengths of SE: the ability to have multiple good and correct answers.
  2. Otherwise, if it doesn't apply to the above point or any points in the linked Meta post, I'll downvote it. This is especially the case when it's a one-sentence answer from a long-time user that should know better. Depending on the circumstances, it could be best to flag it and treat it as a comment to an existing answer.

If it's a word-for word copy, extract, or close to it, downvoting/flagging may be appropriate.

If not, I don't think such a post generally needs to be viewed negatively. As you say, different perspectives - or different explanations of the same thing - might be valuable to a given reader.

If the two similar posts are close together in time, who is to say that the 'second' author didn't start their answer first, and just took a little more time over it?

If the apparently similar post is much later than the 'original', it's unlikely to benefit from much upvoting, as earlier posts gain a significant visibility benefit.

One further benefit of multiple similar answers - at least if they are apparently useful or correct - is that give confidence to the asker that the information in this answers is correct. Of course if there are multiple answers that you feel are similar and wrong, that creates a problem!

(I think this answer is substantially similar to Richard's, so please feel free to downvote / flag it...)

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