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I've seen this a couple times now: a question gets asked, answers come in and an answer gets accepted all within a couple minutes.

This is great, really, but it does have the small downside that the accepted answer is often really quickly written and isn't as fully covered/thought-out/written-up as it could/should be.

If the question were without an accepted answer for a little longer — even another five minutes — it would provide encouragement for either new answers to be posted or the existing answer to be improved/expanded upon. As things stand, "quick and dirty" is as far as the answer goes, because it's accepted.

How about increasing the minimum time from question creation until an answer can be accepted? Fifteen minutes, a half hour, a half day, whatever. Just force a little more time for answers to accumulate before one can be accepted.

I'll bet many of you are now thinking: "Yeah, what a great problem to have!"

Personally, I think I would use an average session time as the initial minimum question time. Adjust with usage. We should try to encourage a usage pattern of "ask a question during one session, accept an answer for it in the next session."

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Historical perspective: there used to be no time limit at all. Then someone showed Jeff some data, which prompted him to say "Anyone who accepts an answer within, say, 15 minutes of posting their question is almost by definition being lazy in a bad way." (emphasis original). –  Pops Sep 9 '11 at 19:57
    
So the problem has already been fixed and I'm just looking at questions that are older than the fix. Well, never mind then. 8 ) –  Task Sep 9 '11 at 20:05

3 Answers 3

Let's say you were to ask a complex question about the Microsoft Structured Exception Handler. Perhaps you registered your own exception handler with it, and everything was working fine until your application started crashing and your handler wasn't being invoked and you weren't even getting a crash dump.

After hours of debugging you find that they exception being thrown is an exception of type X and, sure enough, the MS libraries aren't passing exceptions of type X on to your handler. You rewrite your code to not produce or rely on this exception being thrown here, but you want to know what's going on so you can fix your exception handler and avoid the problem in the future.

I can answer this question in 2 minutes because I've solved this problem before. The explanation isn't simple, but the workaround/fix is. You can get it up and running in another 2 minutes. Complex problem solved fully in 4 minutes! Why should you have to wait another 10 minutes, two minutes, half day, whatever before accepting my answer? And remember to come back and do so?

Now imagine what happens when you have people like Jon Skeet on a site. The mysteries of the universe get unraveled in mere seconds. Why wait? Especially consider unregistered users and drive-bys. They're not going to come back, and forcing them to wait longer just means that we'll have more fully solved questions without accepted answers.

Use your votes to push the good answers ahead of the quick and dirty ones. No one should be discouraged by the green checkmark because it's a very minor thing. It's simply to denote what helped the OP, and it is always up to them who to award it to. Community votes reflect the real quality of the answers. If the OP doesn't need a complex explanation then even if they wait before accepting, the complex answer may fare no better.

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There is already a minimum time.

An OP cannot select an accepted answer until after the question has been in existence for 15 minutes.

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Excellent! So all the questions I've seen where there's a minute between the question showing up, and the answer showing up, and the answer being accepted are old questions from before that was in place. That explains things. –  Task Sep 9 '11 at 20:03
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How are you "seeing" this, exactly? This policy has been in place for nearly a year and a half. Are you viewing the revision histories for all of the questions you visit? –  Pops Sep 9 '11 at 20:05
    
@Task: This is just a notification of Popular's comment. (I have the same question as him.) –  Hendrik Vogt Sep 10 '11 at 7:01

I disagree. 95% of my questions were answered as-I-wanted in first ten minutes and I was pretty sure it's the best one. When one and better answer appears, I can always reaccept it, it's not a problem (yes, it is for user who answered first, but he has to know that the best one wins)

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Well that's great for you then. But does being able to accept an answer within the first couple minutes of asking a question give you anything? If there was a bit of a delay, would you be losing something? –  Task Sep 9 '11 at 19:10

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