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While reviewing first-posts and late-answers in Stack Overflow I find that I very often have to click through to the original post so that I can see existing answers to the question. This has been brought up in passing a couple of times ( Why don't questions shown in the review section show votes/answers/views like the rest of Stack Overflow? , reviewing answers, when answers are correct but duplicates) but hasn't received any satisfactory discussion or answers.

This seems to be a particular issue when reviewing answers... Anecdotally, I've that a significant percent of late-answers and first-posts that are answers look good when viewing the question and the new answer, BUT if you click through to the whole post you find that the answer is just a repeat or summary of answers posted earlier by other users. Give that SO clearly discourages this type of behavior, we should be downvoting/commenting the answer, but because we can't see existing answers at a glance (we can't even see if there are any existing answers) it's easy to miss this and give it an upvote or pass it by.

I'm of the opinion that you really can't judge the quality of a new post on SE without seeing earlier posts (at least for answers). If there's a four paragraph point-by-point explanation of a solution and someone comes by a year later and gives an answer that just rehashes the same answer (often with less detail), then the new answer doesn't deserve upvotes and the poster should be alerted that they should only post an answer if they have something to add.

Is there a reason to not allow the whole thread to show when reviewing an answer?

EDIT: Even more reasons to show answers to reviewers

It's been a few days since I posted this, and I've come across another common scenario which would be much-improved by having easier access to answers - this time concerning questions. I came across this question in the course of reviewing close votes. I couldn't tell what the OP was asking and I almost added the fifth "Not a real question" vote. However, when I opened up the full page to have a look, it appears that that another user understood perfectly and answered the question to the OP's satisfaction. In light of the answer it was obvious what was being asked. In this case, the OP was misusing a couple of words that made it hard to tell what he wanted to do and so I went ahead and edited the question to clarify. In the normal course of reviewing I would have probably closed the question as "not a real question" had I not seen this answer.

As it turns out, I ended up casting the closing vote anyway, but I cast it as a duplicate instead of not a question because once the question became apparent it also became apparent that the OP likely failed to find a solution because he didn't know the words to use to look it up. But this was the correct outcome. The question should have been tweaked and closed as a duplicate, not as "not a question". And there are cases where this same scenario unfolds but the revised question has merit in its own right, in which case showing the answers help prevent the closing of salvageable questions.

As the number of reviewers grows, the chance that five given reviewers might not understand a question that is comprehensible to others grows. Showing us other users' answers helps demonstrate when a question needs to be clarified (edited) vs closed as not a real question.

And yet more reasons to show answers to reviewers

Another scenario which I've seen a number of times going through the close review queue is where a seemingly legitimate question has been asked, with lots of details provided and relevant code posted, but the close vote is on "Too Localized" grounds because the OP subsequently posted an answer to the effect of "Oh, my bad, the error had nothing to do with this code and is because i didn't upload my changes to the server" - or some such thing. I probably come across this every other day, and not showing me posted answers off the bat creates a barrier to investigation and encourages lazy reviewing. At the very least, on questions up for closure on "Too localized" grounds where the OP has posted an answer, it should automatically show us the OP's follow-up post.

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I've inadvertantly posted a duplicate of this question which has a few examples in it you may be able to use for the feature request. –  slugster Oct 12 '12 at 10:11

1 Answer 1

NOTE: This was originally posted as a (dupe) question, as I didn't find this when I searched. (We're working on search quality.) I'm upvoting the question, but think the below, while overlapping the OP some, adds some supporting ideas.

In the review queue, you're often trying to determine what the most appropriate feedback to the poster is. Currently:

  • For questions under review, you see the question and just the number of answers
  • For answers under review, you see the answer to review, the question, and the just the number of other answers

Would it make sense to make it possible to see the question and all answers without leaving the review queue? This could be done by:

  • Including the full post with questions and all answers below the specific post to be reviewed, or
  • Having a button or link to "show all answers" below the post being reviewed

It's clear that the post to be reviewed should be up top and more visible than anything else, but sometimes the context, including the other posts are relevant to what review action makes sense.

At first blush, you'd think other answers aren't relevent; you're just trying to determine the usefulness of the post in question. But that's not always the case:

Example: Say an user's first post is an answer that you know is terse, but correct. You might elect to upvote it. Or even better, to upvote it with a note, asking for even a little more detail to be more useful to the OP. Or you might even make that edit yourself. But what if it turns out that that answer was a less-complete version of a previously posted answer, with all the additional detail. Any of those actions would turn out to be somewhat... unhelpful.

Obviously, you can currently click through to the question page, but this breaks up the review flow and takes more time.

Would something like that be helpful? Would it introduce other problems?

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5  
I get the point of hiding the other answers by default but personally I think an easy way to show/hide other answers on the post would be helpful –  Ben Brocka Oct 10 '12 at 16:49
    
You know, one of the reasons that users are reviewing too quickly is because it's such a burden to go and view the entire question and answers with everything being hidden by default. Consider that, by making it easier to view question and all answers, you may be solving that problem as well, making it easier for users to ask themselves whether or not a moderation action really needs to be taken.... –  jmort253 Oct 17 '12 at 23:15

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