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I recently answered a question twice with two different approaches that would answer the question in different ways (i.e. offering different solutions to the same problem).

On the one hand, the OP might accept one answer over the other, but the other answer might be preferred by the community, or by a reader finding the question later through a search. Also one of the solutions might not be such a good idea, so suggesting them both in a single answer could cause confusion if it gets accepted. So it would seem to make sense to have separate answers. However, on the other hand it seems somewhat spammy, or like you're just throwing shit at the wall to see what sticks.

I sort of already know the answer to this... "It depends on the context". Some questions will have multiple valid solutions, and so long as both answers are valid and potentially valuable to future readers of the site, then I'd say it's a good thing. However, it would be nice to have some objective guidance on this to refer to, how to decide if a particular instance of it is good or bad?

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  • $\begingroup$ Here is the example I posted in chat of multiple answers by the same user getting way out of hand on Stack Overflow. $\endgroup$ – Air Feb 25 '15 at 17:30
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Multiple answers are OK in the right circumstances, but should be the exception.

The most important criterion is that each of the answers must be significantly different and independent of each other. Multiple answers with minor or moderate differences should be in the same post, possibly in a enumerated list. Only really truly different and independent answers should be separate posts.

In the case of truly different and independent answers, it is actually good to write them in separate posts for exactly the reasons you site. They can be separately voted on and the one that solves the problem best can be accepted.

If this got out of hand I might feel differently. It hasn't become a problem and people aren't abusing it, so there is no need for formal rules at this point.

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    $\begingroup$ I would add that if we observe more than one user leaving multiple answers to the same question, that is a red flag that the question itself likely has serious problems that need to be dealt with. Outside of Meta, of course. $\endgroup$ – Air Feb 25 '15 at 18:24
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    $\begingroup$ +1 for not formalizing rules about something that isn't a problem yet. $\endgroup$ – hairboat Feb 25 '15 at 18:53

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