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Discussed before:

But I have a different solution:


As I'm somewhat new, perhaps this is way off base, but...

I've noticed among those with quite a bit of rep to reserve a space for an answer and put something very small in, to answer first -- then edit and really answer the question as time goes along. It's appealing enough that I have gotten sucked into doing it a few times.

I feel like this is a crappy way to treat other answerers to the question, as you're attempting to make it appear to the asker that you are the first to provide an actual answer. If the user is not sitting there pushing Command+R on the page to watch for answers, it will look like you've written a novella before everyone else, and therefore deserve the accept.

A specific example:

On this question, the first answer posted didn't address of any of the original question's (multiple) questions. It was simply "C# does this, F# does this, big difference." Through a few revisions, Justin has gradually added more information to the answer, but his timestamp still says that he answered first. This is not entirely correct.

Aside: I tend to factor in first-to-answer when answers are very similar, and I am choosing an answer to accept. I did this here to Nadia, because she and another answerer actually hit the same thing, but the accepted answerer beat her by 2 minutes. Perhaps this is a flaw on my part, and I shouldn't take that into consideration -- I'd be interested to hear if others do when choosing an answer to accept.

So, to the feature request:

When an answer is edited, reset the timestamp on the answer to now.

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This "problem" has been discussed multiple times on meta, and rejected multiple times - see meta.stackexchange.com/questions/9731/…, among many. –  Dominic Rodger Oct 26 '09 at 17:22
    
@Dominic: The linked one doesn't exactly discuss what I'm proposing, it discusses changing culture to discourage people from doing it. Do you have another? –  Jed Smith Oct 26 '09 at 17:25
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3 Answers

up vote 4 down vote accepted

The new random sorting of answers with the same score was implemented to counter this.

The issue with your suggestion is this.

You post a good answer, someone else then posts an ok answer but good enough. You find more references and do your work in trying to improve the answer you gave so the asker would get his problem fixed and even learn something on the way.

You edit to add that information, and you get bumped down. Now this ok answer is at the top and people have a tendency to vote for the first thing they see. Maybe there are more ok answers and your good one is way at the bottom.

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It doesn't, though. The timestamp is still misleading. –  Jed Smith Oct 26 '09 at 17:28
    
Regarding your edit, I agree that it'll be hard to convince others that it's an issue -- but I'd rather wait 15 minutes for your good answer with a bunch of references than 30 seconds for an OK one. Don't answer until you're fully prepared and the answer is good, is what I'm getting at. Don't make me refresh the question a million times because everyone is editing their answers as they go. What I'm getting at is: When you push answer it should be a good answer, not a placeholder or an OK answer. Do your research ahead of time and wait. –  Jed Smith Oct 26 '09 at 17:34
6  
OK. So I'm merrily researching my answer to a question before I post it, since I don't want to edit it. I refine and polish it for 20 minutes. But at the 19 minute mark, the other six users who were answering finally get theirs done and post. I've just wasted 20 minutes of my life that I'll never get back, and IT'S ALL YOUR FAULT!! –  mmyers Oct 26 '09 at 17:42
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Sometimes I come across a question that has just been asked (in the last ~10-15 minutes) and I see a "placeholder" answer from a user with high reputation. It doesn't answer the question very well, but it is clearly a placeholder (e.g. mentions documentation without a proper URL). In those situations I will not bother taking the time to compose a reply myself, because it is clear that someone else already has this question covered. So in this case it is very beneficial to me to see these "placeholder" responses, because then I know I don't have to invest the time myself into replying in parallel.

I will probably come back in an hour or two and add an answer myself if there isn't a complete reply yet, but that's rarely happened. Placeholder responses generally evolve into good complete responses.

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I'm not convinced this is a problem at all. Yes, it encourages "gaming" the system, but it does it in such a way it creates one complete, comprahensive idea. SO isn't just about the users, it's about creating a repository of knowledge, and this is actually beneficial to that.

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Then you'd be okay with taking away reputation completely? Since it's not about the users, it's about the knowledge... –  Jed Smith Oct 26 '09 at 17:36
    
Nah, because rep is good fun and keeps people interested. Best answer gets the most rep (in a perfect world), so rep is good for both side of the coin. I'm not saying the community is unimportant, I'm just pointing out SO serves a greater purpose. –  Phoshi Oct 26 '09 at 17:47
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