A question was recently asked, and then answered.

The orignal answer given was not quite right, and so the answerer went and edited for clarification. During the next several hours, other answers were given from other members. The original answerer has then gone and made additional edits - some of which included the answers from other members. At last count, there were 7 additional edits to the original answer, some of which clearly were intended to expand using comments/answers from other members.

Coincidentally, all the other answers have been given a down-vote.

I'm not suggesting any of this is wrong per-se - just leaves a little sour taste in my mouth. Is there any guidance on this?

  • 2
    Adding a data point: I provided a response to this question, and the same person posted what's basically a rephrasing of my information, hours after. (No downvote on me, though).
    – Su'
    Commented Mar 11, 2012 at 8:02
  • Hi Mike, I took part in that question both with a brief answer and quite a few comments. I'm not sure if my answer came first or the big long edited answer after mine or my comments. They asked quite directly does it count as a back link. I stated no it would not count as a back link and explained the reason. The answerer seemed to have gone off on hidden content which I thought had nothing to do with the original question asked. So I commented a few times. I had to state my case, i've built links since 2007 for small businesses to farmers insurance and know a thing or two about back links.
    – Anagio
    Commented Mar 12, 2012 at 21:38
  • Thanks @Anagio - The big long edited answer was first :). I agree with your other observations and comments. Commented Mar 13, 2012 at 3:37

3 Answers 3


The number of edits is pretty much irrelevant I think, but sniping information that's already valid in others' answers is questionable, unless some significant expansion, clarification, or even refutation is being made. (And the fact everybody else has a single downvote definitely smells off.) Even then I'd tend to work in a back-reference, eg. "[Other user] said [whatever] but also look at..." Minor corrections should probably just be done in-line with the original answer; that's what the edit links are there for.

But also consider this from a less suspicious perspective, though: maybe this sort of behavior comes about from people attaching too much ownership to answers, both theirs and others'. The SE system combining a point system(my answer, my points) with wiki-ish edit links(everybody working toward one great answer) does create a bit of a conflict.


When you see someone doing something you do not approve of, please let them know in the most civil fashion possible - e.g. "-1 this answer was already provided at (time) by (user)"

The example Su' provided would be an opportunity to downvote and comment on the latecomer's answer if the latecomer has not added any material information (though, in the example Su' provided, the addition of the Twitter link makes things less clear) - if the latecomer cannot improve upon the answer, it's fairly obvious what is going on (and I would expect other voters to take note, as well).

Looking at the first linked question, it seems fairly obvious who was responsible for the downvotes on answers (check asker's reputation history).


If you suspect that someone is downvoting all the answers that compete with their own, I'd suggest just going and upvoting those downvoted answers. The net result will then be that:

  • the answers will have the same score as if neither votes had happened,
  • the users who posted them will each have gained +8 rep, and
  • the user who downvoted them will have lost 1 rep per vote.

In fact, simply upvoting any answers that you feel have been unfairly downvoted (and not upvoting answers that you feel are overrated) is a good approach in general. The StackExchange rep system is pretty good at ensuring that irresponsible downvoting will just backfire on the downvoter, at least as soon as someone else notices it.

  • Thanks, I've verified using @danlefree's method that there was no apparent systematic single down-voter, so i'm somewhat appeased. Commented Mar 13, 2012 at 3:37

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