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I've noticed several instances lately, though I suspect it has always been the case, that someone will give a new answer that adds nothing new. The worst cases are when someone just gives a subset of the recommendations of an earlier answer. The new answer is just a bit of noise. Sometimes it will be ideas from several answers, but still, nothing new.

I wonder if it is desirable and possible to "discourage" such posts without seeming too heavy handed.

One possibility would just be some advice in the help pages. Not every new user seems to get the point that this site isn't just a bunch of discussion threads. That may be related.

We have mechanisms already in voting and comments for people to express agreement with the advice in an existing answer.


Here is an example of this. Another user posted while I was writing. This has happened a couple of times. (Rep needed to see my deleted answer.)

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I downvote answers as "not helpful" if they are nothing but a superficial repeat of existing answers, especially when they are particularly low-effort. However, it's worth taking care that sometimes there are multiple ways to say the same thing, and some of those ways can be better than others. That can include answers that are brief and direct, even when other answers provide more context and detail. Synthesizing multiple other answers into one answer can also be useful. I've frequently added my own answer to a question that's more or less the same as other answers but I feel needs to be more clear on a key point.

Mods can "protect" questions to prevent no-rep users from answering; often HNQ-featured questions get this protection (though it isn't supposed to be a reason to protect by itself, HNQ tends to go hand-in-hand with the reasons a question should be protected) which helps avoid these answers. High rep users can also protect questions (with a couple limiting criteria), and I think you can be fairly loose with this option when it is available to you and you're seeing people chime in with non-answer answers.

If an answer consists of "I agree with Buffy's answer, but (wanted to make a side comment or contribute to discussion)", you can flag as "not an answer" and it will likely be converted to a comment or removed. Answers should stand on their own, and while it's fine to reference other answers in your own answer, it shouldn't be necessary to read other answers to get to a complete one. Feel free to flag outright plagiarism of other answers, as well (better to use a custom flag for that so a moderator knows what to look for); these can be machine-automated attempts at gathering rep to use for spam or other nefarious purposes.

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  • How about "let me repeat that" as a descriptive?
    – Buffy
    Commented Dec 15, 2021 at 15:38
  • @Buffy Sounds good to me. I don't think the original was wrong, either, just didn't want it to lead to confusion. I had trouble searching MSE for broader guidance on this issue because it's interlocked with the other one there.
    – Bryan Krause Mod
    Commented Dec 15, 2021 at 15:39
  • I generally limit downvotes to posts I think are actually harmful if the advice is taken. I've been (a bit) tempted to comment on the "repeat.." answers asking "why bother", but feel it is a bit too negative. But somewhat experienced users also do this on occasion.
    – Buffy
    Commented Dec 15, 2021 at 15:40
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One possibility would just be some advice in the help pages

The best help page to give this piece of advice would probably be in How do I write a good answer? However, this page is the same network-wide and not customizable by site moderators. Within the pages that are customizable, I don't see a good place for that addition. Furthermore, help pages are likely only read after someone points out issues with a post.

About what to do, I agree with Bryan's answer, but let me stress that flagging could be particularly useful in case of repeated instances from the same user, so that in case we can advise them with a moderator message.

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    Notice how in the last paragraph I'm doing exactly what the OP wants to discourage :-p Commented Dec 15, 2021 at 16:18
  • Actually, I often do something similar when I think an answer has many good points but needs additional advice. As you do here, I link to the question I want to extend rather than just phrasing it as "an earlier answer" or similar. But, also as you do here, there was a new element. On at least one occasion I got more rep than the answer I pointed to, but that wasn't the intention. In fact, such linking can, I hope, boost the answer linked as well as making it obvious and easy to find. So, this isn't what I really mean. It is answers that really don't add anything.
    – Buffy
    Commented Dec 15, 2021 at 16:25
  • Pointing to a help page after the fact might actually be a benefit, even if not the main page. Better than a personal complaint to a writer, I think.
    – Buffy
    Commented Dec 15, 2021 at 16:27
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    @MassimoOrtolano For what it's worth, the general guidance is that for this sort of thing Meta should be treated differently than main sites, so you're forgiven this time :)
    – Bryan Krause Mod
    Commented Dec 15, 2021 at 17:30

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