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Go figure, no sooner do I write up a loving description of how answer permalinks solve the problem of linking to answers when there are multiple pages of them...

...than I discover this maddening game:

  1. Set your answer sort preference to "votes".
  2. Find a question with two pages of answers, where answers with no up-votes span both pages.
  3. Follow a permalink to an answer with no up-votes (this one works as I write this).
  4. Make a note of the author's name, or some bit of unique text (this will make step #5 somewhat easier).
  5. Reload the page until it no longer displays the answer linked to. You can search for the bit of text identified in #4 to verify this.
  6. Flip to whatever page you didn't land on. Note that the answer is there.

Depending on the number of answers and your current luck, #5 may take a fair number of page refreshes before the problem manifests itself. Be patient...


Caveats:

  • As Jeff Atwood points out, this won't happen if you're not logged in.
  • Occasionally, step #6 will fail, leaving you unable to find the desired answer on either page.

An illustrated journey:

The answer, at the permalink, as it should be

The permalink, but no answer!

The answer, after flipping to the other page

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Way too technical of a post for my brain at 2:30am...I got through #3 and then just blanked out. –  TheTXI Aug 29 '09 at 6:37
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The sad thing is, i've spent the entire evening grinding through bug reports - getting to file one feels like leisure... –  Shog9 Aug 29 '09 at 6:39
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LOL! Randomly changing the code without following engineering practices is always problematic. –  LeakyCode Aug 29 '09 at 6:41
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I am also incredibly disappointed that there are not more screenshots with freehand circles drawn on them. They would be incredibly helpful right about now. –  TheTXI Aug 29 '09 at 6:47
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Happy now? I am. I'm gonna go eat waffles and bologna. –  Shog9 Aug 29 '09 at 7:08
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BY-DESI.. hey, wait a minute.. an actual lucid, non-rant, backed-by-data, with-an-actual-example criticism of the new sort order? Are you sure you're really a so-meta user and not some sort of pod person? –  Jeff Atwood Aug 29 '09 at 8:44
    
I thought we all where pod people here... I mean... nevermind. –  perbert Aug 29 '09 at 11:29
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4 Answers 4

up vote 7 down vote accepted

randomization sub-order within votes is removed if there are more than (pagination limit) answers.

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Excellent :-) –  Shog9 Aug 30 '09 at 15:34
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I think that this is my new go-to "dazzle them with bullshit" answer. I have no idea what this means, but it sounds brilliant! –  gWaldo Nov 15 '10 at 16:00
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"If there's more than one page of answers, the ordering of answers with the same score is no longer random." –  badp Sep 7 '11 at 17:47
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It was always broken across multiple pages. Not everyone has Votes set as the default view and it was something to accept as done.

As one of those who sets Newest as the default answers view, never really paid mind to it.

One possible wish to the whole permalink thing is to force display the linked answer on the first page, regardless of view. Maybe with a little highlight saying that this has been pulled out of order. Or something.

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That last thing you wrote, that made sense. They should do that. –  Shog9 Aug 29 '09 at 7:10
    
3020 is another relaxing rep number. –  random Aug 29 '09 at 7:13
    
I seem to remember raising this on UserVoice back in the day... –  Rowland Shaw Aug 29 '09 at 7:14
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The force to top is an interesting idea. –  Jeff Atwood Aug 29 '09 at 8:45
    
@random and so is 3040? :P –  user132619 Aug 29 '09 at 10:03
    
3030 was fun while it lasted. –  random Aug 29 '09 at 10:14
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But doesn't beat making contortions to get 1337. –  perbert Aug 29 '09 at 11:31
    
FWIW, i hadn't noticed this bug before, and i follow a lot of links to answers. Link to a previous report, or it's new. ;-) Now that Jeff's pointed out that they drop the fancy random sort for unregistered users, i don't see why they don't just do the same for answer links... But the "force to top" idea is appealing for other reasons (having the answer you went to read and the question it's associated with together being the big one). I think you should post that as a separate suggestion! –  Shog9 Aug 29 '09 at 21:49
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In my opinion it is even worse: Just refreshing the page leads me to another answer. I am - to take your example, that still works - asking to see exactly answer number 856677, but pressing refresh am led away from it to another answer. The answer number did not change.

It even sometimes (following the perma link on the answer) brings me to the top of the question page, as the #856677 entry point does not appear on the page through random sorting. Hitting refresh only points to another question as refresh retains the positioning in the page.

I think it must be assured that following a perma link of an answer leads to the answer itself. All else is more then confusing.

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Suggestion: log out first, then try your experiment again.

Bear in mind that 99% of our traffic is anonymous users.

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Fascinating... So the randomization only happens for logged in users? Huh. Still annoying when i follow a link from someone's profile and don't see their answer. –  Shog9 Aug 29 '09 at 17:33
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the randomization is only relevant for people who have the ability to vote./ –  Jeff Atwood Aug 30 '09 at 13:30
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