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Is it acceptable for a single user to post more than one answer for the same question? Or should all answers be consolidated to a single post?

For example, in this question I had posted an initial answer using one method. I then later posted a second answer pointing to an alternate approach. My thought was that both approaches may be of interest, but the two are really distinct answers.

Is there a protocol for this?

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Merely discussing more than one method doesn't really justify posting a separate answer for each, especially as a great answer would compare & contrast them. There isn't usually much sense in seeing votes as measuring the relative popularity of different methods.

As an example see https://stats.stackexchange.com/a/68917/17230. The compare & contrast aspect is admittedly rather meagre: but it's there, & constitutes such merit as the answer has; & surely a better answer is going to go into more detail about the suitability of the different methods for different methods, & the relationships between them, rather than give some eighth method that trumps the seven already listed. What'd be the use of splitting this into seven answers so that people can vote up their favourites?

If, for example, on occasion, you wanted to make all the arguments for a point of view in one answer, & the arguments against it in another; I'm sure no-one would mind, & perhaps it'd be rather fun. So I wouldn't say multiple answers were unacceptable; but they should be exceptions, for some particular purpose, & not just because you've got more than one thing to say (which is the case for many, if not most, answers).

[Note also that in this case your second answer is just a reference, which would be better as a comment anyway unless you intended to expand it.]


As @Glen_b & @kenorb have pointed out, the highly upvoted answer to What is the official etiquette on answering a question twice? says:—

When you have two distinct answers, it's better to post two different answers than to put them both into one answer.

I think this begs the question. Of course two different answers should be distinct: but you don't just have answers; is it better or not to write a single comprehensive answer? For the reasons above I say it's normally better.

Some comments on that answer are interesting: one from a moderator on Seasoned Advice:—

[...] in general we definitely don't want multiple answers on cooking. Yes, there are often a lot of facets or different ideas, but they're also often all connected, so it doesn't really make sense to split them up. It's much more useful to readers to have things presented in context in a well-organized way. It's also often true that the multiple parts of an answer aren't better or worse than each other, but simply different and all useful.

& another from a Stack Overflow user:—

[...] from my understanding of SO, multiple answers lead to confusion since as both answerer and asker, I expect the solution that worked to be accepted, the act being proof that it did, even in (so often) cases when from the question it's not clear (yet?) which one is most relevant.

Statistics must be more like cooking than programming.

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  • $\begingroup$ OK, good to know. I kind of thought my first answer was really pretty weak for a general answer, but reasonable if the goal was 2-3 dimensions vs. high d. The second answer I was thinking that the reference actually exactly answers the question, but is hard to summarize briefly (and the Google Scholar link is probably stable). $\endgroup$ – GeoMatt22 Aug 26 '16 at 3:43
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    $\begingroup$ I have now updated my second answer to include context and explanation for the reference. $\endgroup$ – GeoMatt22 Aug 27 '16 at 3:03
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When you have two distinct answers, it's better to post two different answers than to put them both into one answer.

If you put two very different answers in one, then one could be a great answer, and one could be a terrible way to do things, but the upvotes (or downvotes) on the good (or bad) answer will drag the other along with it to the top (or bottom).

Source: What is the official etiquette on answering a question twice?

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    $\begingroup$ (-1) See my edit. (On Meta, if you're not already aware, a down-vote means "I disagree with this", not "This isn't a useful answer" - of course this is useful.) $\endgroup$ – Scortchi - Reinstate Monica Sep 7 '16 at 9:01

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