I've had this come up a few times, and found some older answers to similar questions on meta.
However I believe that the answer heavily depends on the current moderator staff, as they are the ones handling these flags.

When I see an answer in the late answers queue, I check if the answer already exists.
If the answer has been directly copied word for word from another answer on the same question, I flag it as in need of moderator intervention. As the other flags don't fit at all.
I then add a link to the original answer.

Usually these flags get accepted.
Other times the flags get declined, but the answer is still deleted.

As I am getting both positive and negative feedback on this way of flagging, I would appreciate some clarification.

Should I:

  1. Flag these
  2. Downvote them (seems counter-intuitive unless I also downvote the original)
  3. Ignore them (also seems counter-intuitive, they are not contributions, but bloat)
  • IIRC An exact copy (cut and paste with no embellishments) automagically raises a flag.
    – user9517
    Jul 15, 2016 at 5:52
  • 2
    @Iain - I have experienced the same inconsistent handling. Although the "new" answer is never an exact "copy and paste" if the predicate answer, the one's I flag never have any actual content beyond the cross-referenced first answer. Often, they are just abbreviated versions. Out of some frustration, I have just started ignoring them rather than bothering to flag, although IMHO they tend to clutter the site and make the answer "set" less clear.
    – Colt
    Jul 18, 2016 at 23:33

3 Answers 3


The two answers you flagged where somewhat different (links only visible with rep >= 10k):

So, flag verbatim copies, but ignore (or downvote) independent answers with the same meaning as older answers.

  • So if a user rewrites another answer, even mentioning that other answer in his rewrite, then I should just down-vote it? I agree that similar but slightly differently worded answers deserve to exist. But if you reference another answer and then write your step by step of executing the answer. That seems a bit redundant. I might be slightly miss-remembering the answers as I don't have 10k rep :)
    – Reaces
    Jul 14, 2016 at 14:05
  • 1
    I guess if it's really only an obvious rewrite without any additional benefit, I might treat it as a copy, but in this case, the user added a bit of it's own value to the problem by detailing the steps he did a bit more than the other answer. Deleting this would appear much to harsh to me. To quote: After trying to import the organization (state: pending) we changed the login name to the english one within mssql management studio unter Organization_mscrm -> security -> users, deleted the organization from deployment and reimported it successfully.
    – Sven
    Jul 14, 2016 at 14:16

I don't think I've knocked back a flag that was clearly labelled as "this is a clear dupe of <this other answer>", but at the same time I'm of the opinion that near-dupe answers that actually try, in some way, to be answers are really not diamond-smash targets. They're answers -- really bad answers, sure, but still answers -- and should be dealt with like any other answer, by downvoting to oblivion. Even pure copy-paste answers from the same question could arguably be dealt with the same way, because downvoting them buries them under the original answer. I'd definitely diamond-smash a flagged copy-paste answer, though, because I'm that sort of person.

On the other hand, if an answer consists of content flat-out duplicated from another site where it is not abundantly clear that the content is licenced for such duplication, that's definitely a flaggable/smashable answer.

  • 4
    The problem with downvoting a correct (but copied) answer is that it can suggest that the answer is not correct (without reference to the original answer), which is confusing to the reader. A comment should be mandatory in this instance.
    – MrWhite
    Jul 21, 2016 at 12:07

Why would one downvote a correct answer, even if it's a copy of another answer? Shouldn't we instead merge questions?

  • 3
    I think the question there is about two answer on the same question (not two same answer on two different question). (thus a merge is impossible there) :)
    – yagmoth555 Mod
    Aug 4, 2016 at 12:51
  • Two identical answers by different users on the same question? No I think that's not the case here. We're talking about an earlier answer to a different question that was found via google and copied. I think that if this unmodified answer is correct, then new question should be merged with an earlier one - maybe by adding section to the original question, which includes alternative variants of this question, which were added later by other users...
    – Anubioz
    Aug 4, 2016 at 13:19
  • 1
    To quote the question: "Then I see an answer in the late answers queue, I check if the answer already exists. If the answer has been directly copied word for word from another answer on the same question ...."
    – yagmoth555 Mod
    Aug 4, 2016 at 13:32
  • Why would anyone do that? I'm really lost here...
    – Anubioz
    Aug 4, 2016 at 13:49
  • To gain point :| As the 'review' queue only show one answer, not all. So it can be easy for someone to be tricked to upvote an answer that way. (review queue there if you want to see; serverfault.com/review/late-answers)
    – yagmoth555 Mod
    Aug 4, 2016 at 14:01
  • 2
    Like those points mean anything ;) I never saw more than 20-25 questions in review queue and it seems very unlikely to me that you can gain even 100 points with that technique, since I (as any author) would be a bit curious why anyone would copy my answer. The only reasonable explanation is that the double answer was made by a single man from two accounts (f.e. first time he posted he thought there was an error, so he registered second time and posted it again)
    – Anubioz
    Aug 4, 2016 at 14:12

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