# What qualifies as “enough difference” in posting similar answers?

This user likes to copy people's ideas and translate literally into other languages. For example, this post: https://codegolf.stackexchange.com/a/23951/9498 from my post: https://codegolf.stackexchange.com/a/23822/9498 (note that I golfed mine more after he copied it).

His code was in TI-83/84 Basic:

Input X,Y:ln((e^Y)^ln((e^100^-1)^ln(e^X


Mine was in TI-89 Basic:

Input y:Input x:Disp ln((e^y)^ln((e^100^-1)^ln(e^x)))


The important part is identical, except TI-83/84 allows for left off parentheses: ln((e^y)^ln((e^100^-1)^ln(e^x))) vs ln((e^y)^ln((e^100^-1)^ln(e^x)))

According to this user:

There was enough difference to claim an answer for myself though

What is enough difference?

• At least he gave you credit for it. – user10766 Mar 13 '14 at 0:45
• At least now I understand that Golf-TI-BASIC answer he submitted that appeared to open 10 parens and close only one of them. So 83/84 lets you get away with that, but not 89? – Jonathan Van Matre Mar 13 '14 at 1:37
• @JonathanVanMatre I know 89 does not let you get away with that (I've tried) – Justin Mar 13 '14 at 3:00
• @JonathanVanMatre Correct. – Timtech Mar 13 '14 at 10:49

In my opinion this is up to the voters to decide. If they think it is copied from other answers, or are very similar, they should cast a downvote.

Side note: I once flagged an answer for moderator attention because it is very similar to another answer, but it was declined, so I wonder what we can do besides downvoting them.

• I'd say that those two could very easily be the result of independent discoveries. Many questions lead to specific ternaries and similar things. IMO, only when it is clearly largely copied is it wrong. – Justin Mar 13 '14 at 5:28

According to the Terms and Conditions of the site:

Since all the content we give to the site is under a cc by-sa 3.0 license, any copyist of this sort has two obligations:

1. Give proper attribution, and

2. Share alike

Therefore you are free to yoink their solution as well, golf a few bytes out of it, and claim it as yours once again. Frontier justice!

According to a Higher Standard:

It's debatable whether we can enforce anything that contravenes the site terms, but we are certainly each free to hold ourselves to a higher standard. There are the rules of the game, and then there is the Olympic spirit.

Sportsmanship has never been about legalism. It's about encouraging the best in others by bringing the best of yourself. Tim has reminded me that I, at heart, repudiate the flippant wit of my first answer (seen above) and believe strongly in a spirit of fair play.

I have personally abandoned answers I was about to post because I felt I had nothing to offer but a couple of bytes reduced from an approach already submitted in the same language by someone else. That's not required by the rules, but it's required by my own sense of what is right. And I think the majority of the community shares that sense, because I see people frequently commenting to improve one another's answers. Or to ask permission to borrow part of an algorithm for their own answer.

An interesting thing happens to us as we age. As adults, we adopt a "play to win" mindset, but if you look at many of the games played by children, children often play to continue playing. No one wins at freeze tag or hide and seek. You simply continue the game.

Obviously the individual challenges here on the site have winners, and must do so because the accepted answer is a core principle of Stack Exchange. But beyond each individual game there's the meta-game of the community itself, and you can play that game to win, or you can play to continue playing.

Which, stated another way, is playing to continue the enjoyment of the community instead of merely enhancing your own enjoyment. And I'm glad that style of play is in ample supply here. It may not be universal, but it feels like the prevailing spirit.

• While this technically is correct I don't think the play fair spirit should allow this. – TimWolla Mar 13 '14 at 1:42
• In principle I agree, and I think the community does too. I see attribution given in cases where little more has been borrowed than a couple of magic number values. I see one user deferring to another who has already posted and just commenting with a tip to save a few bytes if that is all they can do to improve on the answer. I think that's the essence of fair play and good sportsmanship, and it's what I aim for. That being said, by the strict letter of the site terms anything you post here is free game for others to reuse. – Jonathan Van Matre Mar 13 '14 at 1:52