This happens to me all the time on Ask Ubuntu:

  • Question from JB: How do I accomplish exactly X on my machine?

  • [1] Answer by AZ: Here's a tutorial showing you exactly how and even more useful related stuff.


  • [2] Answer by AZ: Here's a clear general answer for which your answer is an example; still written clearly enough that it's obvious how to answer your question, though.

  • [3] Answer by JB: This is just me using the knowledge AZ gave me to write out explicitly the precise answer to my original question.

Who do I upvote? Who gets a checkmark?

I intuitively want [1]/[2] to get the checkmark, but [3] is the exact answer that somebody would want to find on a quick search. I'd like to give upvotes to both anyway. But who cares what I want? What's the right thing to do?

2 Answers 2


The best thing might be to first comment on the answer and ask for what you feel is missing in hope that the answer will be changed by editing. Make sure to be specific in your comments, e.g.

Have you thought of writing the solution as a numbered list that covers all the steps? It might be easier to follow then. Also you forgot to mention step x which I had to figure out myself using your solution.

Also, remember the wiki aspect of the site. You can edit (or suggest an edit for) the answer to clarify it and make it more complete.

These ways of handling the issue are good in that they do not "steal" credit from the original answer and in that it does not flood a question with answers.

However, given that these approaches fail, I think there are situations where writing up your own clearer and more complete answer is justified.

  • To be clear, my problem is that AZ's answer is most clear and perfect. It doesn't need any clarification. But it's nice to have a box of code that specifically addresses the exact question. However, you've hit the nail on the head with the wiki thing. I should edit AZ's answer to contain the good code at the bottom, which gives him all the points. Bingo! Hmm... can I remove the first two paragraphs of your answer? No I can't. Maybe it requires more reputation. Commented Apr 9, 2012 at 11:36
  • @JohnBaber I think editing works differently on meta. However, I changed the first paragraph a bit. Even if it is not completely relevant for your particular case it might be relevant for the general question you raise.
    – N.N.
    Commented Apr 9, 2012 at 12:22

There's nothing wrong with writing up your answer that solves your exact problem by deriving from other answers.

You should make it clear in your answer that AZ's information was important to your success. This will credit his work and is a tip for those of us voting that you guys solved this together as a team and will encourage us to vote you both up. So I would just mark yours as the answer and then give the guy an upvote.

Here's an example of how I did it when I ran into this:

How can I cache NFS shares on a local disk?

(Note that you should edit your question to include a link so that we can vote on it as well!)

  • So, as in your example, you think JB should have a distinct answer to the precise problem and get the checkmark? Commented Apr 9, 2012 at 15:36
  • Not sure, I don't know which question you're referring to so I can't figure that out by myself. Either way it's your question, whatever you feel works for you. Commented Apr 9, 2012 at 16:24
  • 1
    I was referring to the made up JB vs. AZ question above. An example of where this came up is this question where I just placed a block of appropriate code at the top. This feels most reasonable. I'll make a separate answer when the code I get seems non-trivial, but in the case I linked, it's just copying and pasting from the tutorial the answerer linked, which seems fine to have credited to him. Commented Apr 10, 2012 at 12:51

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