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I just had one of my answers deleted because it was the same as an answer to another question. However, I do not believe the answer should have been deleted. Sure, it's the same answer, but it correctly answers both, very similar, questions.

Why can we not reuse the same answer, especially if it correctly answers the question?

screenshot of my answer

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    Well, the question here is did you write the answer your self? If you are reposing someone else's answer as yours, that is plagiarism and not allowed but if you wrote it and it fits both questions, then it should not of been removed, you would not be the first to do this. Some may think it is lazy but AFAIK (if the answer is your work) you did not break any rules. – Mark Kirby Dec 18 '16 at 10:22
  • Yes, this is my own answer. One of the moderators, Mitch, deleted the question. As far as I can tell, he commonly deletes duplicate answers. – Timothy Zorn Dec 18 '16 at 10:23
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    AFAIK, the best way is to mark as duplicate, and not post the same answer to different question. – Mitch Dec 18 '16 at 10:23
  • it looks a lot like this answer Is there anyway to enable system wide inverse scrolling? – Zanna Dec 18 '16 at 10:25
  • I think it would be better to merge the two questions in this case, since they really are identical. However, I'm sure there are cases where the questions are similar, not identical, and can have the same answer. – Timothy Zorn Dec 18 '16 at 10:25
  • Zanna, my answer is similar to that one, but that one has a lot of extra unnecessary steps and no way for it to only match touchpads. It's a bit awkward for me when I scroll on my mouse and the scrollbar goes in the opposite direction. – Timothy Zorn Dec 18 '16 at 10:26
  • If you think its better to merge, then please flag it that way, so we can take a look, and see if its applicable. – Mitch Dec 18 '16 at 10:29
  • @Mitch, I have flagged the question as a duplicate. In this case, I agree that they should be merged, but I'm sure there are cases in which using the same answer for similar, yet different, questions is correct. However, it seems that your policy is to delete duplicate answers even when they correctly answer the question. So, my posted question still stands: Why can we not reuse the same answer, especially if it correctly answers the question? – Timothy Zorn Dec 18 '16 at 10:31
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    AFAIK, Using the same answer to multiple questions requires attribution even if it is your own. Appropriate attribution is linking back to the original question. Answers should always be designed to the question and in fact, it's rare that the same answer would work for many questions. Constantly posting the same answer to multiple questions, may be considered Spam. – Mitch Dec 18 '16 at 10:40
  • I do not think doing it once can be considered constant. Should I wait for you to merge these questions, or should the answer be undeleted, so I can add a line linking to my other answer? – Timothy Zorn Dec 18 '16 at 10:41
  • The constant part was in general, and not intended in this case :) – Mitch Dec 18 '16 at 10:45
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    If I may add my personal $0.02, I agree that highly similar questions that can have the same answers should be flagged or voted to close as duplicate. However, I still believe it's better to have a question answered (and maybe closed later) than not answered. I see no problem with one person posting the same answer multiple times if it perfectly fits each question, or adapting that answer to multiple questions. After all from what I can tell, this was a valid, high-quality answer and as such should not be deleted in any circumstance, even if a flag or VTC would have been more appropriate. – Byte Commander Dec 18 '16 at 10:57
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    @ByteCommander not sure if I understand you correctly, but I see no point at all to answer a dupe question. What is good about that? Better maintain one good answer then creating a bunch of answers. Posting repeated answers is usually just a cheap shot. – Jacob Vlijm Dec 18 '16 at 21:20
  • @JacobVlijm The vote to close would be more appropriate than a copied answer in a dupe question - yes - but I still think that a quick (valid, high-quality) answer and getting it closed later is better than leaving it open for a while without reaction until someone finally closes it. Additionally, the OP who copied his answer here had 101 rep, so although he had the flag privilege (15 rep), he did not have the VTC privilege (250 rep) yet and might therefore not be familiar with the close reasons etc. Deleting such a user's perfectly valid answer just because the Q is a dupe is too harsh IMHO. – Byte Commander Dec 19 '16 at 12:52
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    I remember the two answers because I had to review the two questions for duplicate close voting... and the duplicate question flag was raised by OP here who posted the two duplicate answers. – WinEunuuchs2Unix Dec 19 '16 at 18:18
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There are three possibilities:

  1. The questions have the same answer because they're the same (or almost the same) question: vote/flag to close one as a duplicate of the other.

  2. The questions are actually slightly different and can't be closed yet both can be solved in the same way: modify your answer to address the specific difference in the question. Adapt it to fit each question asked instead of just copy/pasting.

  3. The questions are not duplicates and yet there is no change you can make to your answer that would make it fit one or the other better: post the same answer, OK. Note, however, that in the 4 or 5 years I've been using Stack Exchange, I think I might have found one such case. It really isn't very common and that's why identical answers are automatically flagged by the system.

  • Thank you for providing several scenarios and proposing solutions. – Timothy Zorn Dec 19 '16 at 9:36
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    Identical answers are automatically flagged!? o.O That's new to me, interesting. – Byte Commander Dec 19 '16 at 12:53

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