There is one mechanism currently that discourages too many answers on one question, and that is the autocommunitywikification after 30 (on some sites only 15) answers. This is an ugly and ineffective hack that abuses the CW feature solely for its reputation denial.
I propose a more effective and radical replacement, it should simply not be possible to add more than 30 answers to a question. There are several reasons why limiting the number of answers would be a good idea:
- A question with more than 30 answers is likely not constructive anyway, so no harm done
- Few people read beyond the first page, which means the later answers don't get as much review by the community as they should
- Because many users won't read all the answers if there are so many, duplicate answers are very likely to occur
Only undeleted answers should be counted for this, to prevent non-answers and spam from taking up spots.
To prevent bad answers from blocking a spot, it could be also designed in a way that negatively voted answers would be pushed out by new answers, or other similar mechanisms.