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I've noticed several instances where an answer for one question can apply equally or nearly as well to another question with some modification.

For instance, there are multiple questions by men asking about how to write an authentic female character, with minor variations in the question.

What do you consider to be the best practices for disseminating existing answers as information to new/other questions?

  • Is it okay to copy-paste an answer so that the information is readily available as an answer to the new question, or does this lead to undesirable repetition of content clogging the SE?
  • Should we instead quote extensively for easy access to the content and proper attribution, including even if it is our own answer?
  • Should be keep it short and sweet with a sentence or two and a link to the existing post, since answering questions takes the valuable time of the answerer?
  • Or should we try to call attention to the existing questions for reference without repeating answers?
  • Do not copy-paste an answer written by some other member. While we all publish our answers here under a CC license, few of us will forgive you for pretending someone else's effort was your own. And even if you do cite the original author, that other might begrudge you the repuation you gain by reposting his effort. – user40570 Aug 9 at 8:55
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    I have no intention of simply copying others' work, particularly without attribution, but I have written several of my own answers that could be copied and pasted. – wordsworth Aug 9 at 14:58
  • That's when you know the site well enough to start closing things as dupes (which they all are these days), but there's no free internet points for that. I used to link stuff like crazy but it took me about 5y to get the badge for it, so apparently that was all a waste of time. 99%: there's only two types of questions: ill-phrased and duplicates. Qs that can be edited into better phrasing and not become a dupe are few and far between. - Your title is basically the guideline for duping. – Mazura Aug 20 at 0:25
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There is a preferred way to handle this.

First, if you can copy-paste an answer from one question to add it to another. The second question is probably a duplicate and should be flagged as such. That is the purpose of dupes on SE. They serve as signposts that point to the answer you need. This is why some communities tend to point questions to the best quality answers wherever possible, regardless of chronology.

If the question is just similar then the first thing you can do is make sure the tags are helpful. Anyone searching for similar questions is either going to try string matching, tag matching, or both.

Then a well-placed comment can be useful. The convention seems to be to post the word related followed by the link. The word related differentiates it from suggesting a duplicate. While comments are ephemeral, this can point an OP and others who come by to additional material. There's no guarantee that the comment will last, but they often do.

If you want to mention material from another answer, by all means, mention it and link to it. You should probably quote anything important to the point being made in the current answer. Answers on StackExchange should be self-contained. Write any questions and answers under the assumption that any material or outside source you link may very well not get clicked and the reader needs to understand your post.

And yes attribution is the reasonable thing here. So definitely attribute any quotes, even if they are your own.

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    "The convention seems to be to post the word related followed by the link. [...] There's no guarantee that the comment will last, but they often do." I can't speak for the other moderators, but I'll usually take care to leave such comments around even when cleaning up comments, assuming that it actually looks at least moderately relevant. Links from one question or answer to another question or answer also causes the respective question to show up in the "linked" sidebar of the other, thereby further increasing discoverability. – a CVn Aug 9 at 8:45
  • One thing I'd also suggest is that, if the question or answer linked to is your own, state such directly. I'll usually add something like "full disclosure: my own question" or "full disclosure: the accepted answer is my own" or some such, but the exact phrasing is obviously up to the person posting the link and the context for it. It can still be relevant even if it's your own content, which is why you'd add the link in the first place, but that way, it looks a bit less like rep-whoring. – a CVn Aug 9 at 8:48
  • @aCVn Instead of "full disclosure: my own question" I'd just write "I already asked this here" (where "here" is a link) or "I have answered this here". – user40570 Aug 9 at 8:52
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    @B.L.E. That certainly works too. The point is to make it clear that you're linking to content that you have a personal stake in. – a CVn Aug 9 at 8:54
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    I've written "this answer is heavily based on my own answer to another question, linked here" (and then linking it), but the new answer is its own thing. Adapting my own relevant work to a new question is reasonable. – Lauren Ipsum Aug 14 at 16:09
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    Great answer and I agree with it. But searching is a bit more complex. One of the reasons I focus a lot on tags is that I've discovered that if you search for a word that is a tag, it will not pull up any posts that contain that word if it doesn't also have that tag. (You can kludge it but it's not straightforward.) Also, I'm pretty sure comments are not searchable (except on the page itself via the browser)...just tested with a phrase from above and, nope. – Cyn Aug 20 at 5:35

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