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I have read a number of posts on the "race to answer first" - something which I think does not encourage thoughtful and complete answers. I wonder if it would make sense to change the granularity of the time stamp on answers, so that all answers that are posted within 10 minutes of the question being posed are marked "answered quickly" instead of "answered 17 seconds ago". They could still appear as soon as they are submitted, and are likely to get more views, but it removes a bit of the "race to be first", and would discourage the OP from accepting the "first answer" even if it's slightly inferior, in an attempt to "be fair" to the fastest trigger.

In my two months on SO I have seen quite a few instances where a "quick and dirty" answer has three or four votes before the first "thoughtful" answer shows up - by which time the question is no longer on the front page, and isn't getting much attention (I believe once a question shows up as having an answer, many people don't bother clicking through to it. I don't have access to data at that level of detail, so it's just a hunch).

Other suggestions in this vein seem to be getting a lot of negative attention - I'm hoping that it's a little less unacceptable in this form...

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Don't worry about the FGITW; experience has shown that the thoughtful, correct answer garners the votes anyway, over time. –  Martijn Pieters Feb 28 '13 at 16:07
    
Is it your assertion that changing the way the timestamp is rendered will have an appreciable effect on how answers are voted on or accepted? I'd like to see you develop that argument a little more, because right now, I don't buy it. –  Rob Kennedy Feb 28 '13 at 16:16
    
The FGITW issue isn't usually that people say "this answer was posted 2 minutes earlier, I'll upvote this one." It's that the first answer gets one or two upvotes before the second one is posted, which leaves it with a marginal advantage. –  David Robinson Feb 28 '13 at 16:31
    
But we do encourage fast and complete answers. There's even a badge for that. –  Bo Persson Feb 28 '13 at 17:26
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1 Answer

up vote 2 down vote accepted

The timestamp itself is irrelevant, very few people will look at them before voting. The trouble is that if an answer is posted first, it is likely to be upvoted first, bumping it to the top of the list when sorting by votes (as most people do), and that gives it an advantage over later answers. And that problem would only be solved by keeping answers hidden for the first N minutes, but such a "solution" does more harm than good to the site in general.

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