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My question is inspired by an episode happened earlier today, regarding a question asked on the main site: TM - reject definition and complement.

A new user asks a legitimate but very basic question, which is shortly thereafter answered simultaneously by myself and two other users. It is somewhat comical how, in part due to the nature of the question itself, all three answers are almost word-by-word identical, covering exactly the same points in exactly the same way.

In situations like this, where the question is such that there is effectively only one answer, wouldn't it make sense, for the sake of clarity, to merge multiple similar answers into one?

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This phenomenon is well-known on Stack Overflow. When a question has an obvious solution, it's common that several people post near-identical questions at nearly the same time.

The accepted moderation behavior is to leave these answers alone. Moderators would intervene only if a redundant answer was posted markedly later than the others. If the answers are posted within a few minutes of each other, we don't look at the exact timestamp.

If the posters wish to remove their answer because it's identical to another answer, that's encouraged. But that only goes if the answers are truly near-identical: having answers that explain the same solution in different ways is perfectly fine.

See:

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