While browsing the review queues, I'll occasionally come across an answer by a new user to an old, highly-trafficked question. The new user's answer ostensibly answers the question, but is short and only includes information already covered by other answers in greater detail.

Here is an example of such an answer that came up in the review queues recently. I can't help but feel that answers like this miss the spirit of this site, though they technically follow the rules.

In review, what should I do about such answers? I don't think I should flag the answer as a non-answer, since the answer is in fact an answer. I'm not sure I should always downvote, since such an answer considered in isolation might actually be a good answer. At the same time, the answer doesn't actually contribute anything new, so it doesn't seem necessary to keep the "duplicate" answer.


4 Answers 4


I delete those answers; as you said, they don't add anything, and it doesn't really matter how good an answer is in isolation since it isn't. If the queue has a delete option, you can vote for that directly, or flag it "needs mod attention" and mention it doesn't add anything new


Sometimes those answers add value when they provide a quick "tl;dr" summary of existing longer answers (possibly even referring to them for more detail).

But usually not.

  • 1
    Short tl;dr answers only provide value if they are on the top. They won't help someone who made it to the 10-th answer. Dec 12, 2016 at 17:53
  • 3
    @DmitryGrigoryev Vote them up, then. :)
    – mattdm
    Dec 12, 2016 at 18:21
  • 2
    @DmitryGrigoryev they do help. when then top answers seem to complex i tend to scan down for a simpler solution. so even if it's somewhere down below, i'll find it.
    – eMBee
    Dec 14, 2016 at 6:53

How I would treat such an answer depends on whether it is plagiarism or not.

If it is a verbatim copy of another answer to the same question or just a part of another answer, I flag it for moderator access and explain that this is plagiarism and provide a direct link to the original answer.

If the text of the new answer is original, but doesn't provide any new information compared to older answers, I write a comment to the answer pointing out that the same information is already provided in an earlier answer.


I like duplicate answers.

First it gives me more confidence on the correctness. On some special topic, we have from time to time only one, and BTW wrong answer.

Usually the duplicate answers are written with other languages (other choice of words), so the search engines will bring more users to the better answer.

  • The voting and acceptance system should be proof enough of an answer's correctness. Incorrect answers should be downvoted or commented on.
    – jayhendren
    Dec 20, 2016 at 17:29
  • 1
    Indeed, sometimes duplicate answers add value by providing an alternate wording or a tl;dr as mattdm mentioned, but I find this to rarely be the case.
    – jayhendren
    Dec 20, 2016 at 17:30
  • @jayhendren: on unpopular topic, it is often the case, and if I'm looking for an answer, I cannot judge it. Dec 20, 2016 at 19:13
  • @jayhendren: when I google some problem, I usually land on a "secondary" answer. Dec 20, 2016 at 19:15

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