Suppose that you once wrote a very comprehensive answer to a question, and the contents can actually answer several other questions.

Would it be appropriate to copy and paste your answer, revising as needed? Do you need to "cite" yourself if you do? Would it be appropriate to post a link to your answer, with some brief quotes?

2 Answers 2


No -- copying and pasting the exact same answer is frowned upon and should be avoided, in every context.

It's OK to link them with hyperlinks, but it really implies the questions should all be closed as duplicates of each other.

It's also OK to edit the answer and customize it to different answers, so long as it is materially different in a meaningful way.


The C tag on SO becomes an interesting place at the start of every semester. We get hordes of beginner questions that are asked just differently enough to not be duplicates.

I find myself digging through my old answers to find the example code snippets I used before, then re-cycle them into something that fits the exact problem being described. Then I link to my original answer.

Still, I've effectively done what Jeff likes us to avoid, duplicating content. My snippet is basically the same, it's showing someone how to operate on a pointer, illustrating precedence or something else very simple. Yet, the question remains open, was re-opened .. and technically 'deserves' an answer, even if it's basically the same darn answer I've given three times.

It makes me think that, if you could recycle an answer with little effort, the question at hand should probably be closed or merged. But then we're also told that a little duplication is a good thing.

Sometimes, ideals are confusingly conflicting :)

  • 1
    Why sell only one book when you can sell thousands copies? ;-) Maybe a better system would be explicitly answer recycling where you could reference your previous answer you though answer the new question too.
    – user2567
    Jan 5, 2011 at 11:12

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