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Motivation

Some questions collect a considerable number of nearly identical correct answers within a short period of time. On questions like that, this clearly wrong strategy sometimes pays off:

  1. Post a barely useful placeholder answer within seconds
  2. Go back and replace your placeholder with a good answer

While you are working on step #2, other answers may flow in; you can use them to provide additional inspiration for your corrections. If you finish within 5 minutes, your answer would look like the quickest correct answer to the OP, even though others may have provided correct answers faster than you did. The OP subsequently accepts your answer, at the expense of someone else who was more diligent.

Suggestion

It may be desirable to automatically close the grace period window, and mark the question as edited when one or both of the following conditions are met:

  • You replaced more than 90% of the original text from your answer,
  • You clicked [Load new answers] while editing your post during the grace period.

This will arm the OP with enough information to choose which answer to accept.

share|improve this question
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I wonder: How much does this really happen? It seems to me that in such a "post then edit rush", the last thing someone could effectively do wwould be to keep up to date on other incoming questions to copy them. It seems much more likely they are just improving their answer... and the basic nature of the question, which caused so many quick answers in the first place, is causing those answers to come out similar. –  Andrew Barber Dec 30 '11 at 18:00
    
@AndrewBarber I suspect that I have seen this strategy in action more than once in the last few week that I've been actively answering questions. That is why I decided to bring it up on meta. The only way to know for sure would be to measure how many answers are edited in this way: if it is one in a thousand, it's probably not worth implementing, but if it is one in a hundred, I think this would be a worthy addition. –  dasblinkenlight Dec 30 '11 at 18:08
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Welcome to Meta! The problem you describe is related to what Meta users used to call "Fastest Gun In The West." (Well, I guess it's still called that, but it's not talked about much anymore. Some people don't even consider it a negative thing.) See, for example, this existing question. –  Pops Dec 30 '11 at 19:55

1 Answer 1

While you are working on step #2, other answers may flow in; you can use them to provide additional inspiration for your corrections.

There is nothing wrong with being inspired by someone else's answer. You also assume that the answerer does not know anything more about the subject than his initial placeholder answer and that he had to copy from someone else, which is not necessarily correct.

More over, most questions that get several answers within a very short span, all of which can be edited to perfection in under 5 minutes, are ones that can be answered simply by pointing to the correct documentation or <insert favourite toy example here>. So in essence your question boils down to saying:

He just fooed the bar from memory to answer first and then copied my answer which I carefully copied from the documentation. Now he's getting the all points and he should be stopped from doing this!

Why is a copy of a copy worse than a copy? Eventually, you'll realize that the low hanging fruit is called low for a reason – every Tom, Dick and Harry can easily reach it. If you want to avoid frustration, either be a faster gun slinger or become a sharp shooter (i.e., aim for the harder questions which require good, solid answers).

In the meantime, please do not indulge in pettiness by downvoting competing answers so that yours can float higher.


Coming to your specific suggestions, here's my rebuttal:

  • You replaced more than 90% of the original text from your answer

So? How do you know that the OP didn't get it wrong the first time and corrected their answer, completely independent of the other answers?

  • You clicked [Load new answers] while editing your post during the grace period.

This will penalize the user even if the other new answer was crap/spam.

There is no way to algorithmically determine any of these and will end up causing more butthurt to the community than is worth.

share|improve this answer
    
You used "algorithmically" and "butthurt" in the same sentence. I'd +1 if I hadn't already. BTW; you didn't copy the later part of your answer from someone else, did you? ;) –  Andrew Barber Dec 30 '11 at 18:24
    
I strongly disagree with your assertion that "most questions that get several answers within a very short span [...] can be answered simply by pointing to the correct documentation": although there is a good number of such questions, I find the "what's wrong with my code" kind a lot more prolific a starter of "speed-typing contests" than the "read the documentation for me" ones. This more or less kills the rest of your argument about "a copy of copy". –  dasblinkenlight Dec 30 '11 at 18:31
    
Moreover, there is no "assumption that the answerer does not know anything more about the subject than his initial placeholder answer": it does not matter if the answerer corrected his initial placeholder answer after looking at others' answers or not: what matters is that the OP has no way of knowing that the original answer was incorrect. Although I agree that there is no way to "algorithmically determine any of these" with 100% certainty, I am sure that you can get pretty darn close to make it usable. –  dasblinkenlight Dec 30 '11 at 18:37
    
@dasblinkenlight You conveniently chopped out the latter part of my sentence... " or <insert favourite toy example here>". Re: your second comment, there is no need for the OP to know if someone was initially incorrect for 1 minute before they corrected themselves. All that matters is that the OP found the answer helpful and it solved their problem. Everything else is just your frustration at not being able to cope up with fast gunslingers –  Lorem Ipsum Dec 30 '11 at 18:37
    
P.S. It goes without saying that the note about "indulging in pettiness" is both unwelcome and misaddressed, in addition to being off-topic. –  dasblinkenlight Dec 30 '11 at 18:38
    
"You conveniently chopped out the latter part of my sentence" I was coming at the hard limit of 600 characters, so I needed to chop something off. Inserting a toy example is still copying, as opposed to spotting errors in the code, which is not copying by any stretch of imagination. –  dasblinkenlight Dec 30 '11 at 18:42
    
@dasblinkenlight I think the point is that the type of question which gets lots of quick answers is generally a really simple one. I think that is the reason the answers tend to come out looking alike, personally. –  Andrew Barber Dec 30 '11 at 19:07
    
@AndrewBarber There is no doubt that these questions are simple. There is also no doubt that "fast gunslingers" (to borrow yoda's term) should get rewarded for being faster than others. The issue that I am bringing up is of closing the loophole that lets one pretend to be faster a "gunslinger" than he or she proved to be at answering this particular question. Ultimately, it should result in reducing randomness of measuring everyone's performance, which to me sounds like a goal that may be of worth to the community. –  dasblinkenlight Dec 30 '11 at 19:28
    
@dasblinkenlight Well, just from my perspective; when I do post an answer to a question like that, I usually end up just deleting my answer and moving on when two or more equally good answers get posted quickly. I try to spend more time looking for richer, higher hanging fruit. I'd recommend you should do the same, and leave the quick draw folks to their stuff. Just IMO. –  Andrew Barber Dec 30 '11 at 19:31
    
@AndrewBarber Yes, this is a good strategy. I delete my answers too when I discover that I have lost "the quick draw" contest. I also discovered that answers to harder questions have a higher chance of being accepted from among the set of all answers (no surprise here, given their lower number of answers). My current strategy to max out at the daily 200 is to try getting a mixture of both, because hard questions also tend to not score as many votes as the easy ones (again an obvious observation, given the amount of work it takes to decide if an answer to a hard question is good or not). –  dasblinkenlight Dec 30 '11 at 20:11

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