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Today I came across a few edits that try to combine parts from two different answers into one by editing information from answer two into answer one.

This is done by a third party and not the original posters of answer one or two.

How should I handle this ?

It seems to me very inappropriate as it takes from one answer and bolsters another, which is of course taking away from answer two.

Here is an example from today where the user "tom" took information from the answer by "Steve Saporta" and pasted it into the answer by "oli"

enter image description here

Should I accept an edit like this ?

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If one of the answers is not an answer at all, then editing information from it into another answer (with appropriate attribution) is sometimes okay.

In particular, if the same author posts two answers but really intended to post one answer, and one of the two answers is intended as an edit or comment on the other, then editing information from the non-answer into the actual answer is appropriate.

In either of those cases, one should flag the answer that doesn't really attempt to answer the question on its own as not an answer.


Besides that, what you've described sounds bad. But you haven't given any specific examples here and I can think of ways to construe a perfectly reasonable situation as "combining answers."

For example, suppose one answer is posted, which contains a wrong part. This motivates someone else to post their own answer. A third person comes along later and fixes the wrong part in the original answer by editing it. If this conflicts with the clearly expressed intent of that answer's author, then it should be avoided (and the author could roll back such an edit). Other than that, though, what the editor did was fine--not just fine, but actively good.

If an edit to one answer would be appropriate in the absence of other answers, it is often appropriate in the presence of other answers as well.


Based on what you've described, I think there might be many combinations of factors that could militate toward or against the edits you've seen being appropriate. For anyone to give specific, reliable advice, more information is needed. I recommend doing one of the following:

  • Edit this meta question to provide information about the specific case.
  • If for some reason you don't want to publicly talk about the specific situation, and you do believe something bad is happening, flag one of the affected posts with a custom moderator attention flag and explain the situation.
  • Sorry I forgot my screen shot – Mark Kirby May 8 '15 at 18:50
  • @markkirby If possible I recommend providing links (and, if you think it's helpful, quotes) in your post rather than a screenshot. Then it will be easier to see the full context, users who cannot view images will be able to understand and participate in the discussion, etc. – Eliah Kagan May 8 '15 at 18:51
  • Sorry if I was a bit unclear, I don't nessecerily think its "bad" but im just confused about the appropriate action to take, as you say "there might be many combinations of factors that could militate toward or against the edits you've seen being appropriate" – Mark Kirby May 8 '15 at 19:04
  • @markkirby I'm not sure what should be done for that particular suggested edit (which I think is still in the queue--I don't think it's been approved as of right now). It does seem like it could improve the post, and there's no clear indication it conflicts with Oli's intent, but at the same time it significantly (by percentage) increases the length of an existing answer to add information that might be considered nonessential. If I were in Oli's shoes, I think I'd approve that edit on my own post. I clicked Skip when I saw that in review. Maybe Oli will decide one way or the other. – Eliah Kagan May 8 '15 at 19:07
  • Agreed, it is a strange one, I will skip it and let Oli decide what to do with it, thanks for the input. – Mark Kirby May 8 '15 at 19:09
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I just saw the suggested edit.
It was rejected by the community 2-1 and I agree with that decision.

I also agree with Eliah, but I'll add notes specific to the case:

  • My answer wasn't so long that somebody might not notice the second. That's one of the few cases where summarising other answers into a header answer might be acceptable... But there was simply no need here.
  • Proper attribution wasn't made.
  • Perhaps most importantly, it's a different answer. Streamlining an existing top answer using later answers' techniques might be appropriate, but this is adding an alternative technique. Again, no need for any of that here, that's exactly why we can post multiple answers.
  • Thanks for your feed back – Mark Kirby May 8 '15 at 22:11

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