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I know there is an "official" StackExchange meta-post already concerning this question, however I think it would be suitable to have our own post that reflects our position.

This really excellent question has provoked a number of excellent answers, one of which was self-deleted after the OP requested the answerer combine both answers into one.

In my humble opinion, this reduces the effectiveness of both the answers on this question, and the site in totality. It reduces the effectiveness of the answers on the question since you can neither upvote both answers (what would be two votes), nor can you upvote only the answer you like. Similarly, you cannot downvote one of the answers, if it appears to be incorrect or not very "good". It reduces the effectiveness of the site by not allowing the specific best answer to percolate to the top via upvotes.

Thoughts?

17

Related meta.SE question:

What is the official etiquette on answering a question twice?

My own view is that it should be pretty unusual to see multiple answers by the same author, but it can be appropriate when the answers represent very different approaches.

  • The site will benefit by allowing the better answer to float up
  • Future users can clearly see which was accepted by the asker (if any)
  • It makes voting easier when you agree with one option, but disagree with the other

The system warns when a user tries to post multiple answers, which should be a discouragement:

Add another answer

Warning

Multiple answers by the same author should be the exception rather than the rule, but there will always be exceptions.

Use common sense and your best judgement. Put everything in one answer if you can sensibly do so. If posting multiple answers would very clearly be better for one or more of the reasons mentioned on this page and on main meta, then do that, but be prepared to defend your reasoning if asked.

For the specific case in the question, my view is that separate answers would be appropriate.

If you see multiple answers that should be combined, invite the author to do so. If they do not respond within a reasonable period, make the edit yourself if you are able, and flag the obsolete answer for moderator attention.

On a slightly related note: Deleting an answer to remove downvotes then reposting the same answer is considered abuse.

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Yes they are A Good Thing if they both answer the question and demonstrate separate solutions.

If a subsequent answer is an extension of a previous one -- a clarification, points on implemetation, things to look out for -- then the subsequent answer should not survive. Its content should be edited into the original or made into commentary.

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