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Quite often I see general or simple questions attracting many answers in a few minutes time.

Often this is because many people see the question at the same time with no anwers, and jump to the resque. They either don't see the other answers before they submit, or don't want to stop at 90% of the answer. Finish what you started, right?

This is of course very competitive and democratic, but I still think this is a bit of a waste of effort.

What I thought of was this: Suppose that if a new question is posted, it is initially only visible to a randomly selected 10% of SO visitors. This random audiance gets a headstart of 5 minutes to type in an answer. The question is visible to the other 90% as soon as the 5 minutes are over, or when the first answer is posted. The other 90% can then see the question, and verify that it makes sense, and post their own view if they don't agree.

The plus is that we will spend less time duplicating each others work. The downside is a delay in answering questions. But I don't think 5 minutes is a big deal. I would expect that the person asking has already spent hours to investigate, and somthing like 20 minutes to seach for duplicates on SO, and typing in a properly phrased, tagged question.

You might also not like the idea that you will see 90% of the questions with a delay, but for all questions combined you have the same odds as everyone else.

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Hi, I think it is totally OK that people don't agree with me... but why does the question get voted down as "unclear or not useful"? –  jdv-Jan de Vaan Feb 19 '10 at 14:14
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Don't worry. The tooltip is baked into the system as is, but on Meta it's often wrong. Votes on feature requests on Meta are to be understood as "I agree" or "I disagree". You have a valid suggestion; it's just that it doesn't have many fans. –  balpha Feb 19 '10 at 14:17
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Also, to the close voters: @random's link is related, but definitely not a duplicate. –  balpha Feb 19 '10 at 14:20

2 Answers 2

  1. SO wants good answers to questions, preferably as fast as possible.
  2. Duplicate answers can be deleted, as often happens.
  3. If you fear duplicated effort, just don't answer any question posted in the last hour (or so).

I say there is no problem.

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Quite often I see general or simple questions attracting many answers in a few minutes time.

What is the problem? In each of these cases the answer probably took less than a minute to write so there is very little wasted time. Most of the time I post a answer that takes less than a minute to write and then try and improve it if needed (Or delete if there is a better answer)

What I thought of was this: Suppose that if a new question is posted, it is initially only visible to a randomly selected 10% of SO visitors.

This doesn't solve the problem. What happens if no-one in that 10% sample knows the answer? The same problem occurs 5 minutes later. It just slows down answers which is not what users want and it also slows down or stops some of the good answers. If you have a better answer it is a pain when there is a upvoted Ok answer as most of the time the Ok answer just keeps getting more upvotes and your good answer just sits at the bottom just gaining one or two up votes. A couple of times at this and answers will learn that if there is an answer with 4 or so upvotes not to bother writing a better answer as no rep is gained.

Another issue, suppose someone answers the question but not that well. The user accepts or the answer gains an upvote and it no longer appears on the "Unanswered Questions" page. Hence, the user doesn't get the best possible answer as I only really look at the unanswered questions (and I assume I am not alone).

Often I find that multiple answers have subtle but important differences. Take for example, this answer which incorporated my (deleted) answer as my answer took into account the fact that not all hosts allow you access outside the public directory.

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