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?

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.

+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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