In a recent question “Randomized algorithm that “looks” deterministic?” by arnab, he posted an answer directly communicated by Shafi Goldwasser with the following note:
Please do not upvote this answer, as it's not mine.
(This is not the first time I have seen this kind of note on cstheory.stackexchange.com, although I do not remember when and where I saw a similar note before. I use arnab’s post as an example.)
It is perfectly fine (and necessary for honesty) to state that the answer is provided by someone else. But the “please do not upvote this answer” part makes me hmmm.
I guess that he put this note because he considered that he should not earn reputation points by posting an answer provided by someone else. Although I understand his humbleness, I do not think that it is a good idea to say “do not upvote” for several reasons:
- In my opinion, this answer is good and it should be listed in a higher place on the page than score 0. In general, a good answer should be listed in an earlier place. That is how Stack Exchange sites work.
- Avoiding upvoting a good answer just because of reputation points seems missing the point, because reputation points are not of primary importance anyway.
- If we have this note as a norm, I am afraid that in the future, not stating “do not upvote” in an answer provided by someone else may be viewed as inconsiderate. This seems like a wrong standard to me.
I hope that people will not mind if an asker or someone else earns some rep points by posting a good answer communicated by someone else.
What is your opinion?
(As an aside, an answer can be marked as community wiki to avoid reputation gain (or loss). But note that the primary purpose of marking a post as community wiki is to let other users edit the post, so that is a slight abuse of the system.)
Added note about community wiki. As I wrote above, I am aware that a poster can avoid gaining (or losing) reputation points by marking a post as community wiki (CW). However, this has its own drawback if the poster does not intend to make editing easier. Moreover, this does not solve the item 3 above; I do not think that we should give a poster a pressure to mark an answer provided by someone else as CW.