As Arqade grows, we are attracting lots of new users. Many of these users will attempt to contribute to the site by providing an answer to an old question that has already been answered. The vast majority of these new answers will provide no additional information.
This especially happens during game promotion events, as participants try to meet the promotion goals.
Generally, we have three actions we can take on these answers:
Quoting @bwarner's answer on the original question:
I've had the same thoughts. Part of me thought that we should purge them with fire. But then I started thinking about what things must look like from the perspective of these new users.
They find a new gaming site. It looks like it might be kind of cool. So they start searching for their favorite games. Finally they find a question that they know the answer to. Mustering their courage, they decide to de-lurk, create a login, and actually participate in the site. They answer the question (which happens to have a duplicate, already accepted answer). What happens next?
A) The user gets an upvote. They think "Cool, now I'm earning rep. I want to find more questions that I can answer. This site is great!"
B) The user gets a downvote and a polite comment. They think "Oh, I guess I don't know what I'm doing". They go back into lurker mode, eventually finding the courage to try again, or moving on to some other site.
C) The user's answer gets deleted. Maybe the same result as B. Or maybe they get confused, wondering what they did wrong. Or maybe they get defensive and say "Who needs this site anyway? It's just a bunch of elitist jerks."
Clearly B and C are not the end result we want. So we need to decide whether the duplicate answers really cause problems, or whether it might be an acceptable price to give people a "safe entry" into participating in the community.
He missed the current scenario: We do nothing. The user sees no response to his attempt at contribution, and decides the site has nothing to offer him.
Three of the four scenarios result in the user leaving or otherwise not contributing to the site.
We have an option available that indirectly deal with this issue: protect the question, preventing new users from contributing. Perhaps we want to auto-protect questions after a certain time period, to prevent resurrection of questions that have served their purpose. This is already being done by @agent86 on dragonvale questions to prevent poor and low quality answers, so we do have a precedent.
We have a few actions we can do:
- Edit the answer to be better quality - We would have one or more answers that provide the same information.
- Delete the duplicate answer - The answer provides no additional value, so the deletion of it will not devalue the existing answers. We would most likely lose new users, however.
- Protect the question pre-emptively - Essentially doing #2 before we can garner poor or duplicate answers.
- Continue to do nothing - We can continue to accumulate duplicate answers and not encourage or discourage them.
I foresee that this problem will continue to grow. A clear consensus on actions to take would benefit the site and provide a policy that we can use to continue improving the site.