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I have noticed, in my time on all the Stacks, but RPG.SE especially, a tendency for some users to collect all the answers already given for a question, and post them as one big omnibus answer.

These answers usually don't add much, if anything, new. They usually just collect the wisdom, or bad ideas, of everyone else in one space.

I do not like these answers; I feel they are a lazy attempt to earn fake internet points. But are they problematic? Should there be policy about them?

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I think voting is sufficient to take care of it. The downvote tooltip is

This answer is not useful.

If you find omnibus answers actively not useful, go ahead and downvote.

On the flip-side, the upvote tooltip is

This answer is useful.

On the (rare?) occasion that you find yourself saying "well, it really is nice to have all the stuff I just read together in one post," that sounds like an upvote =)


The answers you're talking about, meanwhile, are probably the dozenth-or-later answer in the long tail of "meh" answers coming after the top few excellent and thoughtful ones. They're going to attract attention/votes from regulars the day they're posted, then languish in that long tail.

Unless they're somehow particularly excellent, garnering a dozen upvotes their first day and rising above hoi polloi. So the only easy points someone's getting out of them is in proportion to how useful others find having that omnibus answer in existence.

I, personally, don't find them problematic, nor do I feel they need concrete policy. Voting will out.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I have been downvoted by people with the explicit comment that I did not repeat what others had already said (which I think is superfluous, that's what the other answer is for). I get the feeling that with your reasoning, I would get downvoted no matter what. We should at least find a community consensus. \$\endgroup\$ – nvoigt Dec 5 '16 at 13:20
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    \$\begingroup\$ @nvoigt “Copying one person is plagiarism, copying many people is research,” as they say. Repeating a single answer doesn’t add much value (usually; if yours says the same thing but explains things better, I might upvote that), but synthesizing several answers has (can have, anyway) value. \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Dec 5 '16 at 14:43
  • \$\begingroup\$ @nvoigt I believe you're referring to our expectation that answers are independent of each other: that when answering a question with material not covered by other answers, we still expect the answer to answer the question itself instead of assuming people have/will read the other answers. That's not contradictory with omnibus answers getting/earning downvotes and doesn't create a catch-22. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Dec 5 '16 at 15:59
  • \$\begingroup\$ @SevenSidedDie I wasn't answering to another answer. My answer stood on it's own. Had all other answers been deleted it would still have been a valid answer. \$\endgroup\$ – nvoigt Dec 5 '16 at 16:03
  • \$\begingroup\$ @nvoigt I don't mean replying to other answers either. Can you give an example? From experience, without an example this will be unproductive. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Dec 5 '16 at 16:04
  • \$\begingroup\$ @SevenSidedDie I know, but I cannot, sorry. This was a while back, I don't remember the question and the comment has probably been purged. I only remember the absurdity of being downvoted because I didn't ctrl-c/ctrl-v another answer into mine. I'm not complaining, that was a one time occurrence, I'm just saying please let's agree on something, I don't want to get freak downvotes no matter what because some say do and some say don't. \$\endgroup\$ – nvoigt Dec 5 '16 at 16:07
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    \$\begingroup\$ @nvoigt Since there isn't and never has been enforceable policy on how to vote (and there is lots of evidence that even when there are suggestions for how to vote, they're significantly ignored or contradicted by actual voting), I think that concern is probably well taken care of already. This post isn't suggesting how to vote, note; it's suggesting that existing voting patterns and the voting mechanic itself are already sufficient, without alteration or voting instructions, to handle omnibus answers organically. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Dec 5 '16 at 16:13
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    \$\begingroup\$ It is the in the very nature of the voting system that the "some say do some say don't" problem evens itself out towards the general community opinion. Downvoted aren't somehow more valueble than upvotes in this regard. \$\endgroup\$ – Weckar E. Dec 7 '16 at 18:16
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I've been accused once or twice of this even when I do add new content. My goal is to give a complete answer, which will contain content already said, but offering clarification or addition. I won't answer if one answer or the thread of answers is/are already complete, but upvote the answer(s) I agree with. If I roll up other answers into my answer, the content I add from other posts will typically be paraphrases and may mention the other post I rolled up (but not depend on them being read).

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