Recently, without seeing a previous answer I posted essentially a duplicate of this answer, and that duplicated was accepted. I posted in error, yet apparently my mistake was appreciated by the questioner.

As an acting moderator I have the power to enforce whichever outcome I desire, but I feel that it would be disrespectful to the questioner to delete the answer he found most helpful. (It is also probable that such an answer is of value to others.) On the other hand to let is stand seems to go against the unwritten code of self-deleting near-duplicate answers when someone posts first, and therefore disrespectful the the original answerer.

Therefore I ask:

  1. What is the best way to handle a situation like this?

  2. Does a moderator have any role in this if he was not one of the actors?

3 Answers 3


I don't think a moderator should be involved in this, ever. Really, it should be entirely upto the individual (both, the answerer and the asker). I think that a gentle nudge pointing them to the fact that theirs is indeed a duplicate and that deleting might be the polite thing to do is sufficient. It is up to them to delete, and if they decide to, they can notify the OP to switch accepted answers so that they can delete. If the OP or the answerer refuses to, the matter should be dropped at that.

I do not think that users should badger the answerer any further or escalate it to a moderator flag, and moderators should not act (i.e. delete) if they receive any such flags. If there's visible evidence that the user has been notified and they chose to ignore, then they should do no more. If not, they can consider dropping a comment on the flagger's behalf if they feel it is indeed a duplicate.

Moderators deleting answers that are not spam/offensive/not-an-answer is terribly wrong. Moderators should never be the arbiters of what's a correct/incorrect/elegant answer, even if the sight of the answer makes them cringe.


Just because two answers propose the same solution doesn't make them your duplicate. Maybe the asker decided that your explanation was clearer.

If you think that the other answer is better, leave a comment pointing out to the asker in what way that other answer is better, and suggesting that they mark it as accepted.

Do not use your moderator abilities when you're an involved party and the case is not absolutely clear-cut.


Dear Gentle User,

I see that you have accepted my answer, of which I am quite thankful. However, it has come to my attention that my answer is in fact a mere subset/copy of user U's fine answer. I would appreciate it if you accept user U's answer instead of mine, so I can remove this answer. (Barring that, I have flagged a moderator to remove my answer in case you haven't already read this and unaccepted my answer.)

Thank you for your consideration.

(insert name here)

Make it more or less formal as seen fit.

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