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I have noticed some people in StackOverflow that make answers just for the sake of adding an answer, and maybe answering first. And when warned by others, and additionally flagging them, that's when they try improving their answers.

All these happen before the 5 minute mark where there is no "edits" history.

And so I wonder if anyone can see, especially the moderators, the "mistakes" within the 5 minute mark.

Situation: I flagged a poor answer (very short, or just a link, or totally non-sense) at one moment, when seconds later someone warned the poster and the poster changed it (stunningly with a detailed version). I flagged a "late correct edit" answer as poor - which could reject my flag.

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Nope. No one. Except probably devs. –  John Jul 2 '12 at 21:10
No warning needed. It's quite common to post a short quickie first and flesh it out immediately. Just hold back your flags until the grace period expired. –  Daniel Fischer Jul 2 '12 at 21:11
Indeed, @John. –  Arjan Jul 2 '12 at 21:16
Common or not, I'd just downvote, @Daniel. –  Arjan Jul 2 '12 at 21:17
@DanielFischer: This problem applies to all grace periods, not only the initial one. –  Dennis Jul 2 '12 at 21:17
@Arjan Even if it's correct, just terse? –  Daniel Fischer Jul 2 '12 at 21:18
True, then no, @Daniel, if not very terse. –  Arjan Jul 2 '12 at 21:19
Somewhat related question –  James Allardice Jul 2 '12 at 21:24
And also a bit related: Moderators should see the post as I flagged it, not the edited version. –  Arjan Jul 2 '12 at 21:27
The "situation" you describe has been discussed great many times in questions tagged fastest-gun here. Personally I can't see any harm in such method of answering as long as the final answer is full, good quality and helpful. –  Shadow Wizard Jul 2 '12 at 21:34
...and doesn't steal from existing answers (which has happened). Personally I think getting rid of the badges associated with up-votes/accepts and being "first" will eliminate most of this behavior, but not all. People still are strangely drawn to the "first post!" mentality. –  Aaron Bertrand Jul 2 '12 at 21:48
@Dennis but there are no badges associated with the other grace periods. From my observations the fastest-gun problem is perpetuated by the ability to get certain badges after being the first responder. It is not very honest to post a placeholder just so you can be a first responder, just like putting a mannequin in line to camp out for those concert tickets you really want... –  Aaron Bertrand Jul 2 '12 at 21:51
@AaronBertrand: I completely agree with you. I was merely replying to the suggestion to hold back your flags until the grace period expired. –  Dennis Jul 2 '12 at 21:54

2 Answers 2

Nobody, including moderators, and (probably) excluding developers, can see the edits done during the grace period; if you have flagged a post, the moderators would not see any evidence of what you are saying. This is the reason why it has been suggested to make visible the first version of the post, which means that when a post is edited at least once (during the grace period) after creating it, the revision page would show 2 revisions, instead of none as it is actually done.

Consider that the "very low quality" flag is probably going to be rejected in any case. That flag should be used for answers that cannot be fixed by editing them; if it is not possible to edit them to make clear what they mean, then the answer is not a real answer.

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(I hope you're okay with that link I added, though that feature request is not only about moderators not being able to see it, but just anyone. Otherwise you know where to find the rollback option!) –  Arjan Jul 2 '12 at 22:06

I typically down-vote and/or comment and give the user the opportunity to improve their answer (whether it is a "first post" placeholder or just a terrible answer). There is little point to try and punish someone after they've done this, and mods aren't going to delete an answer that is good even if it didn't start so good.

Rather than trying to punish the behavior, I think it should simply be deterred. As illustrated on a question already pointed out:

Make first draft of a new answer part of the permanent revision history

  1. if we get rid of the enlightened badge there will be much less incentive to rush in with a garbage placeholder and fill it in with a proper answer later. There will still be some incentive, as the earlier answers usually get a higher percentage of the votes, and it gets harder and harder over time to earn the enlightened badge anyway (only very simple questions seem to yield answers with > 10 up-votes anymore).

  2. barring 1., if the original placeholder garbage is part of the permanent history of a question, it becomes easy to demonstrate when a user has done this. Nothing needs to automatically happen because of this, and there shouldn't necessarily repercussions even if it is pointed out (unless it is outright plagiarism, and again, yes, this has happened). But the fact that the poster soon learns that their original cutting into line is clearly visible in the revision history, I would hope that is enough of a deterrent.

As others suggest both here and elsewhere, the end result is not the problem. These users usually end up posting a final answer that is decent even if the path they took there was not 100% honest (and clearly has motives outside of the spirit and intent of the site). So I do identify with the unfavorable opinion cast upon the behavior - it just feels scammy to cut in line with nonsense just to be first in line.

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Yes, perhaps we should stop issuing the "enlightened" badge, and create a new "no competition" badge for a first answer that is so good that nobody else has anything to add. When there are 10 answers within the first couple of minutes, it probably doesn't show true genius anyway. –  Bo Persson Jul 3 '12 at 9:51

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