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This is a continuation to Is it OK to answer old questions?:

What should we do with new but redundant answers to old questions that already have very good accepted answers?

Obviously, if the new answer adds something to the existing answers, all is well and good.

My question is about a recent activity by a specific new user who keeps adding redundant answers to old questions that are just a rehash of the existing answers. If others take up the trend, we risk becoming a second quora - with dozens of almost identical answers.

Obviously, we already have the mechanism: if one thinks that the answer is poor for whatever reason, one can downvote it or flag for moderator attention.

My question is about the community attitude to such activity: should we actively discourage such answers - and ask moderators to remove them - or should we ignore them?

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If the new answer adds nothing that's not already covered (in appropriate detail) in other answers and is therefore entirely redundant, then I would say that a downvote (with comment) is normally appropriate. I'm not sure flagging for moderator attention is suitable in this kind of scenario.

The complicating factor is whether all answers should be treated as stand-alone. There are plenty of answers on the site that are actually supplemental (i.e. they're adding information to existing answers) rather than full, independent answers to a question. So how should we treat consolidating answers in these cases?

For example, a question has two or three existing answers that between them cover the topic in depth but which individually don't answer the whole question, then a new answer is put together that clearly and concisely combines these into a single "answer" to the question. Should this new answer be treated as a duplicate or actually as a better, more complete answer?

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    Might have to ask @T.E.D. about that many downvotes against a single individual, it might trigger some anti-vendetta voting response. The individual also does not respond to source request comments, several of us have tried. – – justCal Oct 27 '17 at 16:08
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    From what I've read about the voting system, you'd only trigger a voting rollback if you downvoted multiple posts by the same user in a short amount of time. If you downvote in response to the post (at the time it's made) then this would only be an issue if the same author does multiple posts in a short space of time (which I don't believe is the case here). – Steve Bird Oct 27 '17 at 22:13
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    We may be speaking of different users (i can think of three right now). The one I was considering usually does several answers, one after another. By the time I see them there may be 10 new answers (to old questions). I suspect badge issues again. Maybe we need to eliminate badges, then we might reduce the swarms of meaningless actions just to get a badge. – justCal Oct 28 '17 at 21:39
  • @user2448131 - You'd probably need to ask an actual SE employee about such a thing. I'd guess if you downvote (presumably unworthy) answers as they are made, rather than just going to the users' profile and engaging in a single down-vote orgy, you wouldn't trip it. – T.E.D. Nov 6 '17 at 13:42
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I think just ignore them. They might get some cheap points, but who cares? You don't get any special access to moderator tools or any influence until you get to about 2000. If their answers are downvoted, they won't be able to get that far anyway.

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@Steve-Bird opposes moderating redundant answers and asks about consolidating answers and summary answers.

I don't see how we can consolidate answers. I think it's okay for an author to edit their answer to incorporate ideas from other answers (with acknowledgement as appropriate).

However, I don't think answers can be viewed as stand-alone. I think an answer added when there are already existing good answers should explicitly acknowledge their existence and explain what it adds or refutes. Otherwise it merely adds noise and makes a reader re-read the ideas they have already seen, wasting their time.

  • I'm not sure that I'd represent my viewpoint as "opposing" moderation. I just don't think, given that we have just one active moderator, that this is something that needs to be dropped in his lap. – Steve Bird Oct 27 '17 at 22:17
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    As I understand it, the aim of this site is to produce the best answer possible for a given question. This is what the voting system & the 'accepted answer' mechanism is supposed to provide. That is, for a given question, a visitor should be able to read just the accepted answer to get a satisfactory answer. Now for various reasons that doesn't always happen but that doesn't mean that we shouldn't be aiming for that ideal. When you have interdependent answers, the reader has to read multiple answers to form an overall answer. – Steve Bird Oct 27 '17 at 22:30

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