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When reading answers I often find myself in the situation, that all my thoughts are already taken up in various questions, but never incorporated into one answer. Frequently the answers are of this kind:

In addition to @Xs answers, I want to add that ...

In my opinion, this is cumbersome for somebody visiting the site and looking for an answer. Thus I would write an answer containing aspects from different other answers, obviously attributing to the original answers. But my answer will only contribute minor differences from the originals and will essentially be a summary. As mentioned in the following question on meta.SE this might be offensive, as I might steal upvotes:
https://meta.stackoverflow.com/questions/269396/copy-pasting-the-contents-another-answer-to-the-same-question-with-attribution

So in short my question is:
Are summarizations of answers (with just minor changes) good practice or unwanted duplication?

EDIT:
From the question linked above and the reactions here so far, it is clear that summaries are not wanted, rather editing existing answers (writing a new and better answer is of course the best, but not what I aim at in this question). So as an example:
https://outdoors.stackexchange.com/a/8104/3602 The inputs in this answers are in my opinion absolutely relevant, but the reader has to search for the referenced answer and read it, to fully understand it. A full quote of the referenced answer by Michael Borgwandt would solve that, but its cumbersome.
What is the "good" way of writing such an answer that is based on another answer?

  • If you have something new to add, best plan is to edit an existing answer. That meta.so post you linked to has the right guidance: posting a summary post will not add anything and may just snog people and get down votes. – Rory Alsop Apr 6 '15 at 17:54
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In my opinion, it is not constructive to summarize other people's answers in your answer, even if you give attribution. It's better to edit their answer, provide a comment (you could even plausibly sum up the answer in a comment), or re-write the info into a new answer of your own and provide external sources.

If you check up on the project in Area 51, one of the areas where outdoors.SE still needs some improvement is in the number of answers each question receives, we're still a bit shy of healthy answer ratio for our site:

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A lot of times there are questions asked on this site that don't necessarily need more than one answer, but as Area 51 states:

"On a healthy site, questions receive multiple answers and the best answer is voted to the top."

To me this means that even if there's already an answer provided that already adequately answers a question, someone could still provide a better answer that could be voted to the top. This could be accomplished by either providing a simpler, more direct answer, by providing more details, or simply by doing a better job of communicating your answer to the OP and the community.

I've given answers that weren't received well by an OP, and had someone provide an answer after me which literaly acknowledged that their answer was essentially the same technique that I explained, but the OP understood their answer better and accepted it instead of mine. I could have gotten offended, but instead I acknowledged that the second answer simply did a better job of communicating the information to the OP. This instance and others like it should encourage people to leave better quality, well constructed answers in the future.

There may be cases where it's appropriate to reference another answer, but in those cases I would recommend hyperlinking it and directing people to that answer instead of summarizing it within your own.

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