Sometimes, while answering questions on SO, I've noticed myself falling into a pattern that goes something like this:

  1. Post quick answer that cursorily addresses the problem at hand (let us assume for argument's sake it is an accurate if incomplete answer, although this is by no means always the case). Quickly delete this answer.
  2. Do some research/revision and come up with an example that compiles/runs; edit this in
  3. Undelete my answer and profit from the fact that my answer is the oldest one there

Lately I've been feeling like this is a form of gaming the system, and it should be somehow disincentivised or curtailed.

My question is whether any one else does this, or feels strongly about those that do.

My opinion is that the practice isn't really non-constructive, it just lets me hog all the rep and makes me sort of a dick.

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Nobody is even gonna notice or care that it's the oldest answer. The only thing this matters at all for is the Enlightened badge. –  Mysticial Nov 11 '12 at 21:01
@Mysticial Very frequently identical answers that are newer receive fewer votes than the first ones. I suppose this has partly to do with the human factor of giving credit where they believe it is due, and partly because answers are automatically sorted in chronological order. –  Asad Nov 11 '12 at 21:03
THis is basically FGITW, I am not sure what purpose the deleting serves. Opnions are varied on the dickishness of FGITW strategies.… –  Kate Gregory Nov 11 '12 at 21:04
@Asad No they are not sorted by chronological order. They are by votes. If there are ties, they are randomized. However, you can override the order with the one of the other tabs. –  Mysticial Nov 11 '12 at 21:06
@KateGregory The delete basically makes the answer inaccessible to review, so even if it is a poor answer I get no downvotes and can fix it at my leisure. –  Asad Nov 11 '12 at 21:06
It must also be said that sometimes you genuinely realise a major flaw in your answer and you do this to avoid down-votes before you manage to fix it. –  Alenanno Nov 11 '12 at 21:09
@Mysticial Didn't know that. I assumed in the absence of any votes questions were sorted by order. –  Asad Nov 11 '12 at 21:11
@Mysticial disturbingly enough many people do seem to care about posting the oldest answer. They shouldn't, but that doesn't stop everyone. –  Ben Brocka Nov 11 '12 at 21:14
Just a note: your having deleted and undeleted it also becomes a permanent part of the post's revision history (example linked). It's not like people can't see what you did. –  animuson Nov 11 '12 at 21:18
I consider this "not-cool" practice very similar as when a user "Post something incomplete very quickly, then edit the post with other answer's informations, finally post a code example 5-10 mins later." This user has a really high rep > 70k (for instance), then "edited" mark won't show, so it looks like he filled the whole thing in like a minute after the question has been made. Pretty nasty IMO. –  ForceMagic Nov 11 '12 at 21:22
@animuson Even if you do it within the grace period? –  Alenanno Nov 11 '12 at 21:23
@animuson: not if it's within the grace period. (I did that once today, realizing I missed part of the Q. There's no revision history on the post.) –  Mat Nov 11 '12 at 21:25
@Matt: A deletion shows up in the history no matter when it is done. The grace period is only for editing. –  animuson Nov 11 '12 at 21:32
@animuson: I posted an answer today, deleted it ~30s after posting realizing it had an incorrect part, edited and undeleted. Took less than 2 min. total. There is no revision history on the post. Try it yourself here if you want. –  Mat Nov 11 '12 at 21:33
@animuson: you're right. It is recorded. But it's not visible on the post itself. / –  Mat Nov 11 '12 at 21:37
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1 Answer

up vote 13 down vote accepted

There is a valid, non-dick, case where that kind of thing might happen:

  • Post an answer with untested (but likely correct) code quickly because you think "hey, totally easy"
  • Either notice that your answer is incorrect or not detailed enough to he helpful or receive a comment telling you about that => delete it.
  • Improve it and undelete it when done.

No matter why you do so - it will not let you "hog all the rep". The answers are sorted by score and in case of equal score in random order. The only advantage of having the first answer is having the chance of getting the 10+-first-answer-accepted silver badge for it.

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+1 for describing all jQuery answers I have ever posted –  Asad Nov 11 '12 at 21:53
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