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As a new user, I find that the 'unanswered' questions often get answered within a minute or two, meaning that my answer, even if correct, may be duplicative.

Is there some way to find questions that are both at least X minutes old and unanswered? It seems that that this would be useful to both question askers as well as potential answerers.

This is especially frustrating for new users, as more experienced users are more familiar with the interface and can get the points faster.

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I feel obligated to tell you that your goal shouldn't be to "get the points faster"... but that might be hypocritical. –  Austin Henley Jan 17 '13 at 17:29
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I personally don't care about maximizing points per unit of time, but clearly others do. My goal is simply to find challenging but answerable questions where I'll get some recognition for a considered answer. –  gbronner Jan 17 '13 at 17:38
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3 Answers

up vote 2 down vote accepted

The key is to be in the right tags. Take a look at for example. Its newest question is from Xmas Eve. It can take a question positively hours (and sometimes days) to be answered there. Now perhaps you don't know anything about C++ AMP, but there may be some corner of the world that isn't as thick with experts as the and corners are. When you see a question that is already answered, and you knew the answer, check the list of tags on it (to the right) and consider adding some to your favourites, especially if the count of questions in that tag is small:

tag counts

The pressure to play FGITW drops away when you know you have plenty of time to think about an answer. And you won't feel that sense of "oh, I could have answered it but someone beat me to it" that you do in other tags. As you gain experience you'll also be more comfortable saying "sure, it has an answer, but I have one that's better". If you look over at Area 51 where new sites get evaluated, you'll see stats like this:

enter image description here

Ideally questions will all have more than one answer. So when it's right, feel free to contribute yours.

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Not an exact answer to your question, but:

  1. Find unanswered questions
    • Questions with no answers: type in the search box: answers:0 is:question
    • Questions with no upvoted answers: Open the Unanswered tab
  2. Go to Newest
  3. Open the 2nd or 3rd page in that list

That should get you unanswered questions that are at least a few minutes old - depending on what page you open.

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You're right to avoid writing essentially the same answer, but if you think you can write a better answer than one of the existing answers, you should definitely go ahead.

The primary purpose of Stack Overflow is to create a resource of great answers. It's not designed to be a support forum, so it doesn't matter whether there's a solution, it matters whether there's a great solution. Perhaps you can explain something much clearer than the existing three-line quick answer.

The best way of getting rep is to write really good answers.

You can sort the Unanswered questions list by using the newest tab. Once a question has fallen off the front page or two, it's much less visible to the instant rep seekers.

You can also cut out a lot of the noise by searching a tag you're particularly expert in - you'll see older questions there that are off the radar of the front page. I tend to browse only one or two tags at a time and hardly ever visit the homepage. It's clearer then who's not getting an answer, and sometimes it's because no-one who knows can be bothered explaining or looking into it in detail. That's a good opportunity for you. (You can add favourite tags on the right hand side and they'll be highlighted in the general list so they stand out for you.)

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