Often when going thru the First Posts and Late Answers queue, I find that people frequently will give an answer that is completely covered by the other answers, like this one:

I have found that if I don't "skim the scum", my stock is somewhat cloudy, not clear, and it tastes better if I skim it.

(quoted here since it's now deleted)

This is someone who has gotten to the site, read the question, signed up for an account, and given an accurate answer that is totally unnecessary.

I normally assume these people are used for forums and assume this site is also just a forum where everyone and anyone should just jump in with their own answer.

Is there a nice way to let these people down? Do you think the FAQ will help them understand why their answer isn't useful?

  • Interestingly, that new answer says skimming improves the flavor, which agrees with the second answer ("will be ruined by strange flavors") but not the top ("harmless and flavorless"). If that second one weren't there, then the new answer would actually be adding a dissenting viewpoint. – Cascabel Dec 7 '17 at 22:25
up vote 4 down vote accepted

I don't know that a FAQ link is needed, but you can always link them to the tour and general help pages in a comment... something like:

Welcome {username}! Thanks so much for contributing to our site. We welcome your participation. Unfortunately, your answer is the same as an existing answer, so it will probably be removed. Please don't take this personally, it's how we work here. New answers must provide a new angle to solve the issue in the question. Please consider viewing our [help] pages and take our [tour]. Hopefully you can find a new question to share your expertise on.

This is welcoming, hopefully lets them know that their contributions are generally welcome but fail to meet the guidance of the site's policies that answers should be different and encourages them to try again after reviewing those policies.

Of course, you can word this naturally for you. I tend to have an odd way of phrasing things that others may find better ways of saying.


Note: You'll need to fill in a username (or just omit the {username} entirely) but the [tour] and [help] are magic links that will automatically create links to those pages.

There's a bit of a continuum here:

  • On one end we have answers that share a core idea, but are written very differently, possibly including different details, explanations, and so on. These are generally good: it gives us a chance to vote on the best way to present the information to readers.
  • More commonly in the middle, we have answers that don't really add anything new, usually because they repeat the core answer and leave the details out. These don't have as much value to future readers. They're especially problematic when they're on questions that already have plenty of probably somewhat repetitive answers; more clutter makes things even worse for voters and for future readers.
  • Far on the other end, we have copy-paste duplication. This is definitely not useful, but it's very rare.

With the middle category, it can be pretty tricky to decide which way to lean - is it effectively as useless as copy-paste duplication, or does it possibly provide better phrasing or a more concise summary that makes it actually useful? So as moderators we may or may not delete these unilaterally; we try to use our best judgment. (Users with enough reputation can vote to delete posts themselves as well, but I haven't seen this happen much on this site.)

Personally, I'm unlikely to delete if the answer seems well-written and there aren't too many other answers, and I'm more likely to delete if the answer is too short to be fully useful (possibly poorly written) or there are a ton of answers.

Given that, as a non-mod, you can still leave comments, and if you think deletion may be warranted, feel free to vote to delete and/or flag.

When I see late duplicate-ish answers from new users that I don't intend to delete, I generally write something like:

Welcome to Seasoned Advice! While this does answer the question, the existing answer(s) gave the same advice with more detail. I think you'll find your answers better received if you add new information!

and if I intend to delete, I might tweak slightly:

Welcome to Seasoned Advice! While this does answer the question, the existing answer(s) gave the same advice with more detail. Since there are already so many answers, in the interests of keeping the page organized and concise for future readers, I'm afraid I'll have to remove this post.

You could also sneak in variations on "thank you for your answer", and tweak it to say "it may be removed" if you're just flagging.

Sometimes it may be useful to point them to the tour/faq, but it's not too specifically focused on this issue, so I'd think of it more as a new user welcome thing. Sometimes it may also be useful to suggest that they suggest an edit to an existing answer (or to just do the edit for them).

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