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When answering a question that already has answers, the other answers are between the question and the answer box. This can be annoying when you want to refer back to the question as you formulate your answer.

I am not sure what would be a good way to fix this. The obvious solution of moving the answer box above the existing answers has the major drawback of discouraging users from reading the existing answers before they post their own. I also thought of collapsing the previous answers once you start writing an answer, but I have recently discarded a written up answer after deciding it was basically the same as an existing answer (though I thought before writing that it would be different), so seeing the existing answers even as you write your own can be useful. Moving elements around when the user starts writing an answer could be annoying, but perhaps something could be made to work?

share|improve this question
I am not sure if the feature-request tag is right for this, as I don't know exactly what feature I would like to request to address the issue, and at this point I am looking for ideas on that. But ultimately I would like some feature to address it. – JGWeissman Jun 14 '12 at 20:19
I just open another window. – Dave Newton Jun 14 '12 at 20:19
In chrome you can right click on a tab, and choose "Duplicate", this allows you to have the page open twice for easy reference. – Kyle Trauberman Jun 14 '12 at 20:20
Wouldn't it be nice if users had to scroll through all of the answers before getting to the "Post Your Answer" button, so that they could get a feel for whether or not posting their answer is even needed? – Robert Harvey Jun 14 '12 at 20:26
Status by design...I can't think of any "fix" for this edge-case that doesn't harm usability for either everyone not answering (answer box first) or people just answering normally (moving elements around) – Ben Brocka Jun 14 '12 at 21:10
This also is true when editing an answer, which before the inline editing actually was enhanced to Display the original question beneath the answer edit form. One can still get to that when opening the "edit" link in a new window. But that doesn't change anything for new answers. (Except for posting a placeholder text and then editing that, but be prepared for downvotes then...) – Arjan Jun 15 '12 at 5:42
@RobertHarvey yeah that would be not only nice, that would save me quite a bunch of Programmers rep I lose now by downvoting answers that mindlessly reiterate what has been stated before – gnat Jun 15 '12 at 11:46

I don't think the current layout should be changed for the following reasons:

  • As you already said yourself and as @BenBrocka confirmed in the comments, it's more important to encourage reading existing answers than shortening the distance between the question and the answer field.

  • Pressing Tab, Home to jump to the question and Home, Shift + Tab to jump to the draft is easy enough for me.

  • There are several ways to show/hide existing answers yourself:

    • All mayor browsers:

      Install a user script that adds a button that executes $('.answer').toggle() when clicked.

    • Chrome:

      Visit javascript:$('.answer').toggle() in the same tab. You can even bookmark it.

    • Internet Explorer:

      Visit javascript:$('.answer').toggle();window.scrollBy(0) in the same tab. You can even save it as a favorite.

    • Firefox:

      Open a scratchpad (Shift + F4), enter $('.answer').toggle() and press Ctrl + R.

share|improve this answer
Really, Home and End don't take you to the start and end of the input? That would be something like Tab, Home but even then needs one to click in the answer box again after viewing the question? – Arjan Jun 15 '12 at 5:33
I guess toggle would be better, to allow for seeing the answers again. That said, nice answer. Even more: using (Tab and) Home, and End (and Shift-Tab) is not possible when the Answer box would be moved up, as then End would get one to an unrelated answer. – Arjan Jun 15 '12 at 5:52
Those are two very good points. I shouldn't post answers when I'm that tried... – Dennis Jun 15 '12 at 11:13

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