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I feel that I have a tendency to provide answers that contain more than one viable solution to a question being asked. I'm fairly sure I've seen other occasions where a user will answer with multiple solutions, but I do feel that this is rather uncommon.

I did a quick search here on meta, and through the help section, but didn't find anything specific about this question.

So, assuming that there are multiple viable solutions for a given question...

  • do we have a preference for a single user keeping all solutions in a single answer?
  • does each solution warrant a separate answer?
  • does it generally not matter?
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    If you are posting an answer with multiple possible solutions, I feel one post is appropriate. However, I think the general stack exchange philosophy is to encourage many answers, though we're not very good at that here. So multiple options posted by separate users is a good thing if it happens that way. Perhaps it depends on level of divergence. – Adrian Larson Jul 8 '16 at 1:16
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    Adrian is right about the general Stack Exchange philosophy being for multiple answers to pretty much all the questions, but that is more with different users posting the answers. I'm not sure how the community here would see it with multiple answers from one user, so it is worth us having the discussion. It would help though if we had less new users posting repeated questions so that there was less noise to cut through. – Dave Humm Jul 8 '16 at 9:37
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    Ironically, I did this for the first time today based on this meta discussion: – cropredy Jul 20 '16 at 0:27
  • I have done this now - salesforce.stackexchange.com/questions/140880/… - is this the right or wrong way to do it? – Dave Humm Sep 16 '16 at 14:09
  • @DaveHumm I hardly think I'm an authority on this matter. That said, it depends. Those two answers are a bit different, but related (they're both Salesforce-provided tools). Two separate answers follows the general SE way, but I've started to use the very distinct answers guidance myself. I think I would've kept that in a single answer. I personally don't see a need to consolidate your two answers now that they're there. – Derek F Sep 16 '16 at 14:55
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I usually post multiple solutions in one answer, but I believe I probably have been broken this convention once or twice. My usual reasoning has been that I don't "need" any further rep, as I'm not here for the points, I'm here to help as many people as I can; the score just follows logically. However, I believe that posting multiple answers with one solution each would solve a problem that I've noticed with multi-solution answers: if the answer is accepted, you don't know which solution the original poster decided to go with, which reduces the value of that answer for future visitors. I believe that the site would benefit from a one-solution-per-answer policy, and it's one that I would adopt for future answers if the community agrees with me. This meta question appears to agree that we should generally encourage multiple answers if the question warrants it.

  • I thought of that too. Based on my observations, however, there is a strong present resistance to multiple answers from one user. Another point: often when I post multiple solutions there is a common element, so DRY philosophy does tend to encourage consolidated posting. – Adrian Larson Jul 8 '16 at 16:39
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    I think the key there to keep in mind is they should be very distinct to be posted separately. – Adrian Larson Jul 8 '16 at 16:40
  • @AdrianLarson I agree. 99.9% of the time, one answer per user would suffice, but there's always that once-in-a-thousand question that would have benefited from distinct answers. – sfdcfox Jul 8 '16 at 16:43
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    For me, I can see benefits of both approaches; so I think the very distinct bit in Adrian's comment is useful for guidance. I'd suggest, as a method to mitigate the loss in value issue, guiding users to add a comment to clarify which solution they used if they accept an answer with multiple solutions; however, my experience in community administration, and as a dev, makes me less than optimistic about the majority of users following it. It may work if we encourage the more constant users to comment on which is better practice (in addition to upvoting). – Derek F Jul 8 '16 at 17:26
  • I've done multiple solutions within one answer but only when the solutions are bulleted outlines of potential approaches rather than working code samples. – cropredy Jul 9 '16 at 1:50
  • I would say they don't even have to be very distinct, just different is enough for multiple answers. The 'I don't "need" any further rep' argument falls flat when you consider that you get reputation from people expressing preference, agreement or disagreement with an answer. Combining multiple answers in 1 answer disguises that or prevents people from expressing an opinion on any single of your solutions through the vote mechanism. – Samuel De Rycke Jul 9 '16 at 23:07
  • In the interests of succinctness and readability, I agree with you - a couple of short sweet answers is a lot easier to navigate that a long rambling one with several answers contained therein. – Caspar Harmer Jul 13 '16 at 17:26
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Of course we get a very timely example. I had two wildly divergent answers to the same question, so as per our discussion so far, I posted separate answers. The recommendations could not be much further removed from each other, so I think it makes sense here.

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    Looks like an excellent example to me. Perhaps a more concrete guidance would be to ask ourselves If I were a different user, would I make this (additional solution) a comment on the answer? or Would I be ok with seeing another user post this as a separate answer? If it would make a good comment, just roll it into one answer. The idea being that expansions on answers and similar, but complimentary solutions would otherwise be considered a duplicate answer. – Derek F Jul 8 '16 at 20:46
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Answers are great, community-backed answers are even greater.

Limiting answers to one main solution allows the community to express a vote on individual solutions, giving a stronger indication to the OP or future readers what the truly community-backed answer is.

  • I think this is key. By having separate answers, we can vote on the most appropriate solution, and potentially comment 'threads' are related to a particular solution. – Nick Cook Jul 19 '16 at 15:57
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I have mixed feelings on this issue. Quite often with Salesforce, there's more than one way of solving an issue. To me, that's a good thing! It's one of the positive things about the platform. It doesn't always mean that one solution is "better" than the other. It may mean that for a particular situation or a user's skill set, one solution may be easier to implement or more appropriate, but not necessarily "better". For another user in a different org that either has far more resources available or operates at a much higher capacity/load, an entirely different solution may be a much more appropriate one for them to implement.

To me, these variations need to be taken into consideration. It's why I'm frequently uncomfortable with the phrase "best practices". Often, there are "unwise, "barely acceptable, "good", "better" and "ideal" practices, plus a range of practices in between them. What one uses depends on what an organization has the budget and manpower to implement. That's the reality of economics. Not every org is a large enterprise with a fully staffed and skilled IT support department. Many are lone Admin/Developers who are doing their best to keep their orgs afloat and their heads above water.

Apologies for drifting a bit off-topic there. My point being that when I answer a question, I don't know what resources are available to the person asking the question. With some questions, there are genuinely no "best" solutions, but instead simply options. I can express my opinions about which ones I'd have a preference for implementing if the circumstances permitted while acknowledging that the other options also exist and should be considered as well.

I don't see it as my place to "judge" which is "best" for an org that I'm not familiar with. That's the role of an architect who's familiar with the trade-offs that frequently need to be made when developing a solution. It's been my observation that users often don't consider that other users frequently live and work in environments that are far less than ideal.

Do I have an issue with multiple posts by the same user, one for each option? Absolutely not. The more posts and answers the better. Do I feel a user must post separate solutions as separate posts? No, I don't. I think that should be at their discretion. If they feel it fits the question, then go for it. I don't feel that voting has anything to do with, especially when you look at the statistics on the number of users who actually do vote on questions and answers in this forum.

My $0.02 on the question. I hope it's added something to the discussion.

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