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I've noticed a user on Aviation SE that regularly responds to questions with a response and then continuously edits his response to include the gist of later answers that other users have posted in the same post. He often does this multiple times.

It ain't the end of the world but just curious whether this is acceptable / encouraged behavior or iffy?

I do find it annoying because it's in one way trying to leech off other users' answers. OTOH I'm wondering if Stack Exchange Philosophy encourages this kind of thing to make single posts more self-sufficient and independently standing?

I guess at least from an empirical / utilitarian viewpoint this sort of strategy seems to work because from what I can see this user has a ton of points......

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  • $\begingroup$ Related? $\endgroup$ – fooot Dec 7 '15 at 16:35
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    $\begingroup$ @fooot Yes, related in more than one way. :) But one small point is this: I think I'm OK if a user edits his answer to clarify a point made in another answer that contradicts his own answer. The sort of editing I find iffy is mostly unrelated edits to sort of incorporate other peoples distinct explanations, much different from your answer, into your own. It seems like this is often a strategy to gain points, nothing more. $\endgroup$ – curious_cat Dec 7 '15 at 16:41
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    $\begingroup$ I remember reading in the SO help or meta (don't remember which) that this is actually encouraged so that you have the "one best answer possible". They even said something along the lines of "one easy way to get reputation is to combine all of the existing answers on a question, taking the best of each to create an even better answer that is useful to future visitors". $\endgroup$ – Lnafziger Dec 7 '15 at 18:31
  • $\begingroup$ @Lnafziger OK. Thanks. This is exactly what I wanted to know. And I guess I was afraid of. i.e. What sounds to me like an iffy practice is actually not frowned upon in the guidelines and , in fact, encouraged. $\endgroup$ – curious_cat Dec 7 '15 at 18:38
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    $\begingroup$ @Lnafziger I found a few similar comments on meta.SE, apparently it's been mentioned a couple of times in the podcasts $\endgroup$ – Pondlife Dec 7 '15 at 18:47
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There's a discussion of this on meta.SE. The conclusion there seems to be that if someone creates better answers by combining information from other answers then that's a good thing (as you said). One person suggested that answers made in that way should be flagged as community wiki to let multiple people improve the answer without gaining rep.

This question also discusses it, and one answer quotes from Jeff Atwood to show that he considers combining answers to be valid and potentially very useful.

It seems to me that this is all fairly subjective and a little like the exam question issue: many people feel it's 'unfair' or 'cheating', even if the end result is actually useful. SE is all about quality answers and if the best way to get them is to combine other answers then why not?

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    $\begingroup$ why not? because the fake internet points below the username will bias the reader in trusting the information provided, possibly removing a healthy amount of skepticism that would otherwise prompt other useful questions (for example). $\endgroup$ – Federico Dec 7 '15 at 19:04
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    $\begingroup$ Community Wiki sounds like a good solution. In this particular user's case on SE-Aviation I feel pretty certain that he does it purely for rep. If we did make them Community Wiki I've a feeling he's going to stop pretty darn soon. Incidentally, I'd feel less bad if his combination posts were high quality edited compilations but they mostly look like a Cut-n-Paste drive by with very little Quality Control or value addition. $\endgroup$ – curious_cat Dec 7 '15 at 19:07
  • $\begingroup$ @Federico I guess I missed your point, but if an answer has a lot of points then it should be considered trustworthy because multiple people have found it useful. At least in theory, if the 'derived' answer has more votes than the 'original' ones, then the derived answer is actually better. $\endgroup$ – Pondlife Dec 7 '15 at 20:24
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    $\begingroup$ @Pondlife I am speaking of the effect poster has points -> this answer must be good, irrespective of the current point count of the answer. $\endgroup$ – Federico Dec 7 '15 at 21:40
  • $\begingroup$ @Federico I understand now. That question has been discussed at length on meta.SE (check out some of the linked questions too) but there's no obvious 'solution' and even defining what the issue is is difficult. $\endgroup$ – Pondlife Dec 8 '15 at 18:39
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    $\begingroup$ Another +1 for it should probably be community wiki in cases like this, especially if substantive portions of the answer were 'borrowed' from other existing answers. I'm personally not really convinced that, at least within the context of Aviation.SE, grabbing stuff from other existing answers and adding them into your own, too, is really benefitting the community. I'd argue it's more unnecessary redundancy. $\endgroup$ – reirab Dec 17 '15 at 23:12

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