Today I've spotted once again a question, that I thought I could write an answer to, but now it has already an accepted answer (which I quite like and +1ed by the way). So I am again thinking about the issue under what conditions it would be reasonable or "constructive" to add my new answer anyway. I guess it could in principle be not completely pointless to add a new answer if it

  • brings in alternative valid points of view or explanations

  • complements the accepted answer by mentioning additional points

  • gives more (technical) details about what is already said in the accepted answer

But it often happend to me that when adding a new answer because one or more of the points mentiond above apply, it got no votes which I interpret as it has not been useful for anybody, which makes me feel like a fool. I then think I should at most have left a complementary comment and better delete the useless answer again ...

What do other people think about this?

  • $\begingroup$ BTW I often think I should "clean up" my null result answers to look and feel less like a "tumbleweed" too. But I am not sure if that would trigger some automatic bans if done too vigorously in too short a time ... $\endgroup$
    – Dilaton
    Mar 3, 2013 at 10:35
  • $\begingroup$ Thanks @becko ! $\endgroup$
    – Dilaton
    Mar 13, 2013 at 10:26

2 Answers 2


it got no votes which I interpret as it has not been useful for anybody

That's the wrong way to think about it. Just because an answer doesn't get voted on, it doesn't necessarily mean it was not useful to anyone - and perhaps more importantly, it doesn't mean it will not be useful to anyone in the future. If you post answers solely to get votes, you're on this site for the wrong reason.

If you can answer a question in a way that doesn't just duplicate an existing answer, then go ahead and post it as an answer. Don't post such things as comments, because that's not what comments are for. (They are limited in length and prone to deletion, remember.) And also, don't go back and delete answers just because they haven't been voted on. As I said, they may be useful to people in the future. There are preventative measures that the system will take against people who delete too many answers, for precisely that reason.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Thanks David for this helpful answer. Of course I am NOT here just for the votes. The issue is rather about feeling stupid if I think my posts on the main page are not helpful ... :-/ $\endgroup$
    – Dilaton
    Mar 3, 2013 at 11:55
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ I know for a fact I've read good answers, found them very useful, and completely forgotten to upvote them, so I echo David's point that NULL_VOTES != USELESS $\endgroup$
    – twistor59
    Mar 5, 2013 at 13:14

I came over to Physics SE on a lark from clicking a link in the sidebar on another SE site I spend time on. In Stack Overflow, I often will answer already questions with accepted answers to help add my point of view. Specifically, I'm Googling for something and the question and answer help me figure out my situation. So, I'll add my answer in the event someone comes back to the question for the same reason you have. I have found my own answers helpful before.

And I'm here now because I saw this in the sidebar to a question I am debating internally whether to answer.


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