pointer as second argument instead of returning pointer?

I noticed that it is a common idiom in C to accept an un-`malloc`ed pointer as a second argument instead of returning a pointer. Example: /*function prototype*/ void create_node(node_t* new_node, void* _val, int _type); /* implementation */ node_t* n; create_node(n, &someint, INT) Instead of /* function prototype */ node_t* create_node(void* _val, int _type) /* implementation */ node_t* n = create_node(&someint, INT) What are the advantages and/or disadvantages of both approaches? Thanks! **EDIT** Thank you all for your answers. The motivations for choice 1 are very clear to me now (and I should point out that the pointer argument for choice 1 **should be** malloc'd contrary to what I originally thought).

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