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Sometimes, when you comment on a solution with a suggested improvement (either independently derived or using the existing solution as a starting point), for whatever reason, the author might not take that suggestion on board.

If it's a significant enough improvement, I've occasionally felt tempted to post the it as my own solution after a month or so has passed. Is that long enough to wait or should I wait longer?

As an example see this solution and my very quick improvement in the comments, which I've since golfed down further.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ You can post it immediately (but you do not have to), see codegolf.meta.stackexchange.com/questions/11710/… \$\endgroup\$ – flawr Jan 10 '18 at 12:26
  • \$\begingroup\$ Thanks, @flawr; that question is certainly related to this one but I don't know if it answers it. In that question, we're dealing with different approaches from the original solution, whereas here I'm asking about improvements without changing the method. \$\endgroup\$ – Shaggy Jan 10 '18 at 12:36
  • \$\begingroup\$ What I would do is: give credit as far as the other method is concerned and then highlight your contribution. By doing this, I don't find it necessary to wait any time. \$\endgroup\$ – clark Jan 16 '18 at 9:58
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Technically, there is no rule stating that you have to suggest an improvement with a comment instead of posting a new answer in the first place, so in that light you could post it as your own answer immediately.

However, as, even if not mandated by a rule, it is commendable to comment an existing answer to suggest an improvement instead of posting the improved version as your own, there probably should be, as suggested by the question, a guideline on how long to wait before answering if the poster doesn't edit their answer in response to the comment.

I think a week, or even a few days if the improvement is very straightforward (easy to verify as correct), should be sufficient. If by then the poster has not edited their answer or responded to the comment in any way, they're probably not very interested in doing so in the future. (If the poster hasn't visited the site during that time, it's better to wait a little longer; perhaps another week.)

You could, of course, ask the poster if it is OK for you to post the improved answer. If they don't respond to that in a couple of days either, just go ahead and post it.

All that said, if the improved version doesn't differ by more than a couple of bytes from the answer, it's probably better just to leave the comment there instead of making a new similar post, even if the answer never gets edited.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ if the improved version doesn't differ by more than a couple of bytes from the answer it depends, that "couple of bytes" may actually be a very significant improvement or changing part of the approach altogether. \$\endgroup\$ – Erik the Outgolfer Jan 14 '18 at 14:45
  • \$\begingroup\$ @EriktheOutgolfer Yes, that's true. I only meant it as a rule of thumb. \$\endgroup\$ – Steadybox Jan 14 '18 at 14:48

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