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Recently on this question

How to bend chipboard into a cylinder without tearing it apart?

A user answered the question twice with 2 different suggestions. I originally thought this was in bad form as an attempt to get extra votes for what should have been one answer containing multiple solutions. To which I added a comment:

I would just merge these responses as one. You don't really need to have two answers for this.

And the user responded with an acceptable motivation:

It was two different approaches, so I figured it's two different answers. Each can get up/down voted independently.

In that same question another user has one answer with 2 suggestions. I'm sure we have all seen, or even ourselves, answered questions with single answers that contain multiple solutions.


I think that this is not the approach we should be taking. I see multiple answers from the same person as one response. I would only entertain multiple answers if each one is of great length and vastly different. Is this something we should be discouraging.

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Having multiple, distinct answers has the advantage of allowing the community to vote on which is best, and the question author to select which they want to use. I think it's more common in woodworking than other SE sites for a question to have multiple valid solutions, and a good Q&A would provide all of them (provided there is little to no overlap between the answers).

I disagree with Jeff Atwood here. If it's perfectly fine for a question to have multiple answers, than it should be fine for some of these answers to be written by the same person. What difference does it make who the authors are?

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  • I don't follow the logic of your last paragraph, but maybe I'm missing something. The reason a question can have multiple answers is that there is no guarantee that the first answer will be a good one, or even a remotely helpful one. Multiple users are able to post distinct answers because this site is a gamified Q&A forum rather than a wiki, and the way to reward contributors is to upvote good answers and play to our egos by listing the author's rep publicly on each answer. It does not follow that each person should be encouraged, or even allowed, to post multiple answers. – rob Jul 2 '15 at 6:52
  • @rob, I think our difference is a matter of perspective. You see different answers as having varying quality and completeness levels, whereas I see different answers as providing distinct approaches to answering the question. From my perspective, it doesn't matter if questions have the same author, but from yours, I can definitely see how it does matter. – drs Jul 2 '15 at 11:41
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    Your logic is perfect. One answer per answer. When more than one answer is given, it becomes a bit difficult to vote up if one of the answers is lousy. Personally, I am turned off by the answers that take on the nature of term paper where a litany of possibilities is presented in detail, thus shutting down participation. Especially as a beta site, we want to encourage a broad range of participation by all reputations. – Ast Pace Jul 3 '15 at 4:50
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We've discussed this before in Do we have a mechanism for getting pertinent background details on someone asking a question but we didn't come to any sort of concensus.

That said, I think it makes more sense to post one answer per person in almost all cases. Remember, the idea behind Stack Exchange is that there should be a single "best" answer for any question, in addition to the answer that was marked "accepted" by the question author.

Jeff Atwood agrees that there should be one answer per person, per question:

If it is possible for a question to have two valid answers from the same person, the odds are high that it's a bad question.

(in other words, it's a poll question.)

In general there should be one answer per person per question; if you need to amplify your answer, edit it!

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  • On SO i have only done this twice I think and it was because the answers were too frigging long to be together. – Matt Jul 1 '15 at 17:34
  • Where did that discussion go, rob? I remember it too and I can't find it. I remember you disagreeing with me back then too... – drs Jul 1 '15 at 22:19
  • @drs I found the earlier discussion and added a link in the answer. – rob Jul 2 '15 at 5:47
  • I don't think your Jeff Atwood reference is good. 1) That question was about SO specifically when Jeff answered it, other sites aren't always as strict or concrete, and most importantly 2) the community generally did not agree with Jeff (compare to highest voted answer, which endorsed posting twice when appropriate) and it is the community, not Jeff, that defines what is acceptable on a given site. What you do here on woodworking is up to the community here but I respectfully consider your Jeff Atwood link to be cherry picked and a bit weaselly. – Jason C Nov 20 '15 at 16:30
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My gut feeling is that everyone should attempt to answer any question as fully and as completely as they are able to, precisely because the site is geared towards promoting the one best answer.

Sometimes this will involve suggesting radically different solutions to the problem at hand, but I see that as part and parcel of a thorough Answer and I can't see any good reason why two or more possible solutions should go into two separate answers if written by the same person under normal circumstances.

My particular worry would be that allowing multiple answers as a matter of course could so easily be abused — doing this habitually, as a means to artificially gain more points for example. This would lead to friction, both between users and with the moderators if they then decide to merge responses.

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  • My concern exactly. – Matt Jul 3 '15 at 10:24
  • If you suspect abuse you could flag it and request a mod to CW it. – Jason C Nov 20 '15 at 16:37
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I just finished posting an answer and noticed that I was presented with the option of giving another answer. Seems SO is meant for multiple answers by a single user.

Sure enough; For this answer "Post Answer" was replaced by "Add Another Answer". (I chose to edit instead.)

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    Of course you are capable on the Stack Exchange platform to do this. If you hit the button you will see a message basically asking "Are you really sure you want to do this". Just because the option is there does not mean it is a good idea. Purpose of the question is should we allow or even encourage this practice here on WW – Matt Jul 13 '15 at 22:06
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    @Matt the existence of the button looks pretty encouraging to me - you would suggest eliminating the button from all of SO? – Ast Pace Jul 13 '15 at 22:08
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    I will assume SO was a typo. I am not suggesting we remove it. Merely that its presence should not be assumed as acceptance of it's use. – Matt Jul 13 '15 at 22:10
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    @Matt Round and round we go. I say its presence implies endorsement of its use. – Ast Pace Jul 13 '15 at 22:22
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I don't think this will be an issue, even in the future, especially as the reputation of more serious users increases over time (making variations from multiple answers even more negligible) and the number of knowledgeable users increases (raising the signal-to-noise ratio in question and answer scores).

If wildly inaccurate scores or greatly inflated reputations ever does become an issue it won't be because multiple answers aren't discouraged, it'll be because the site failed to attract and maintain a good user base, and multiple answers or not it'd be a different problem to solve.

I'd focus on more important things like staying respectful, welcoming knowledgeable new users, spreading the word, etc. and generally setting a good example in conduct and knowledge. I think that your attitude of genuine concern is a good attitude, and that is the kind of thing that helps a site succeed.

I don't believe this to be a significant issue to focus on.

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  • I has asked this months ago for something that happened once. After all the reading I have done on this here and on MSE...... you are right. It is a non-issue. – Matt Nov 21 '15 at 15:45
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I have had some of my questions answered twice by the same user and from an asker's and later reader's point of view it is very valuable.

An asker is notified when the new answer is posted, there is no notification on edits. This is very useful when the answerer thinks of a separate option later.

Also the community can separately judge the quality of two different answers, as drs mentions. This is also helpful.

Plus, it lets comments stay specific to one of the answers, keeping them cleaner, easier to follow, and more organized.

The only negative as I see it is the concern that some people may be abusing the system. I've never really observed this to be a major issue on other sites. Besides, the general rule of thumb is always ignore the user name, vote on the post -- e.g. two answers are two answers no matter who posted them.

If you want to sacrifice the usefulness of allowing multiple answers just so a few people don't end up with a couple extra points here and there, to me this shows the priorities are wrong and that you're more concerned with internet points than quality community-judged content. Boooo.

If you consider multiple different answers to indicate unacceptable poll style questions then you might want to blacklist and , among others, and start dishing out the close votes. I don't think that's what you want. It is sort of the nature of this site's topic.

Note that I'm not saying I think one post shouldn't contain multiple answers either. What I'm saying is answer however you want, if it adds quality content to the site then everybody wins. If you make a single great post or you make multiple separate posts and they're all great, more power to you, you're helping to build a good site and you deserve some internet points.

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  • Definite split on this topic. I just see people trying to game the system. Thanks for you input. – Matt Nov 20 '15 at 16:57
  • since there are so many already. The community is too large to have a single unanimous approach towards these types of things. I'm sure we can find evidence to support both our views. – Matt Nov 21 '15 at 5:14
  • @Matt Correct, I am suggesting that, in reality, there is zero downside to a person who has posted good answers gaining a few extra points. You haven't identified any downsides aside from being irritated that somebody got some extra points. Can you think of a concrete downside? Are you worried that e.g. a person who contributes good material to the site may receive tag wiki edit privileges a bit sooner than they normally would, for example, and that that may have some negative effect on the site? – Jason C Nov 21 '15 at 14:29
  • (Remember: The only people with something to gain from this are people who are posting decent, upvote worthy answers anyways, which is a good thing. Multiple bad answers would be double the loss.) – Jason C Nov 21 '15 at 14:32
  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. – rob Nov 23 '15 at 6:23
  • @JasonC ha, thanks; that's my first time using that tool and I didn't realize I had to remove the ones to delete after the tool copied (not moved) them to chat. Thanks for catching. – rob Nov 24 '15 at 18:12
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I originally thought this was a black and white issue. That was made clear that is not that easy as the answers here are divided. Much the same is the case of MSE's so many posts on this very topic. The main parent one that links to many other is....

What is the official etiquette on answering a question twice?

There is plenty of discussion there. I think what while the option exists it should not be perceived as a 100% green light. What I mean is there should be some consideration involved when making a second answer. As long as each answer can

  • Stand on its own, in terms of general post quality,
  • Not rely heavily on a partner answer.
  • Be unique and distinct enough.

then I suppose there is no general harm.


I could see a couple of issues with multiple answers. Most would have to be handled on case by case basis.

  • Many woodworking questions, like questions, will always have several answers. and others are no different. I don't think we need 3+ answers, from the same user, when some could easily be grouped together.
  • Too many answers, for some, can be harder to read and good answers can get buried. (As long as the as the earlier points for good additional answers are met this should be a non issue). This speaks to the behavior of the user on the site. Not everyone works this way. Plenty will read everything but there is a reason, in new at least, there articles are structured the way they are.
  • Weak answers that might answer the question but could just be cases of rep farming. This is usually behavior that happens over time and I have not seen this here at WW yet.

For now we should allow multiple answers and treat them like we should any other post.

If the Community suspects a user is acting outside of the sites best interests then down-votes and flags can help mitigate the situation.

There is only a couple of cases for multiple answers now and nothing bad has happened yet.

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