If, after some personal investigation, I find that my own answer to a question overlaps an existing answer by "85%" or so, is it preferred that I edit the existing answer? Or, is it preferred that I provide a new answer that is 85% similar (not word for word, but in meaning) to an existing answer?

Any difference if the question is mine versus not mine?

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up vote 10 down vote accepted

Here's my mental flow chart:

  • Am I excited about writing an answer in my own words?

    • Yes?

      Then write my own answer and acknowledge the overlaps either in a comment or somewhere inconspicuous in your answer.

    • No?

      • Can I reference my additions in a comment?

        • Yes?

          Simply comment and optionally offer to edit in the additions if the author cares to include them.

        • No?

          Submit an answer that fills in the details you'd like to add. Optionally offer to edit the additions into the other answer.

Personally, I think editing should be primarily limited to correcting minor mistakes, adding supporting links, cleaning formatting, etc. If you have an entire new point to suggest in answer, I think you ought to provide an alternate answer. Because I sometimes feel the need to write about something, I occasionally submit an answer without reading the existing answers. It's a bit of a case-by-case judgement call, in my opinion.

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+1 your opinion is my opinion and I don't feel like adding anything else to this or writing my own answer, so in cases like this it's better to just let your +1 do that talking and not leave a comment, but I figured I'd say that as a comment instead of editing it in there or adding my own answer. – Peter Turner Nov 15 '12 at 20:15

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