Suppose someone asks a question. It has two solutions - one is easier than the other, but the other one has some benefits of its own.

For example, there was one question about imagemagick where the solution was either to re-build the package or to download and install the newer version from the website.

My question is which one is the better solution and also does the second answer need to be down-voted?

I was involved in the question you're talking about and I did as @Oli says - just upvote the answer I considered better. I've also left my comments on it. And yes, I'm downvoting quite often, but only in case I think it's either harmful, probably causing more/other issues, or posted later while a "better" solution/answer was already provided. (I was close to downvoting yours though) –  gertvdijk Feb 6 '13 at 14:47
@gertvdijk I've deleted the answer. I hope that'd be helpful. :) –  green7 Feb 6 '13 at 15:59
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1 Answer

up vote 19 down vote accepted

My question is which one is the better solution and also does the second answer need to be downvoted?

Not at all, no.

I save downvoting for things that are unhelpful, incorrect or just plain don't belong there as an answer. Just because it's another answer doesn't mean it's any less helpful to somebody else and it doesn't mean somebody else should lose reputation just because I prefer another answer.

This is your choice though.

Your example highlights the problem with some of the more technical answers we have here. It's not always entirely clear how helpful an answer is. If the answer is merely "Rebuild it from source", I'd probably -1 and be flagging it to turn it into a comment. If they stress the reasons why something so dramatic is useful and explain how to do it, that's a good answer.

Sometimes there isn't just one best answer. I'll often +1 several answers in a question because they all provide helpful alternatives.

Indeed! As you know (but some may not), there is even a badge for upvoting others' answers on questions you've answered. (No one should upvote answers they think are unworthy just to get this badge of course, but it encourages people to consider if some "competing" answers may be good too.) –  Eliah Kagan Feb 6 '13 at 16:01
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