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Reading good questions with lots of answers can be a lot of fun, but I always feel, that there must be so many good answers buried in there, written by people that simply came too late.

When there are so many, then any answer that wasn't posted early on, is almost equally likely to be a good answer, so I feel that there should be something that gives them a chance.

Because unfortunately I don't have nearly the time to read all the answers, I'd like to sort them in random order, to give them that equal chance - no matter how many votes they currently have.

It's great, that we already have random sorting among answers with equal votes - so I can start reading from the ones with the lowest votes. But following this strategy almost guarantees, that such an answer won't be voted above 1. Sorting by "latest answer" also doesn't solve the problem, because good answers can hide somewhere in the middle.

Short version: I would love to have a random sorting link for answers (next to oldest/newest/votes), because it would add an additional bit of fairness to SO, and it may result in more great answers bubbling to the top.

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You can already sort answers by date posted in either ascending or descending order. Is that insufficient? –  Jon Seigel May 9 '10 at 17:00
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@Jon Yes, as explained above: 'Sorting by "latest answer" also doesn't solve the problem, because good answers can hide somewhere in the middle.' What I want is, that it shouldn't matter at all, when the answer was posted. Currently, the answers that were given just a little bit late - and still got a few votes - always end up somewhere in the middle (which is the worst place), no matter if you sort by date or by votes. –  Chris Lercher May 9 '10 at 17:16
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@Chris: Okay, I see what you're getting at now. FYI: if a question has enough answers to go to 2+ pages, I believe randomness on equally voted posts is disabled so pagination works as expected. –  Jon Seigel May 9 '10 at 17:20
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@Jon: Good to know (that the randomness is disabled)! In that case, it would be even more important to have a tab for random ordering (otherwise, there's an extreme bias towards the answers that are shown last!) –  Chris Lercher May 9 '10 at 17:22
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@Chris: Maybe in such a random view, the post scores should be hidden as well. You should still be able to up/down vote them -- just not see the total score. –  Jon Seigel May 9 '10 at 17:27
    
@Jon: I think that would be really interesting! –  Chris Lercher May 9 '10 at 17:49
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As an aside: the random ordering for equal votes is only used when there's no pagination, so: 30 answers or less. (And hence I can only assume that true random ordering will be a pain to develop, if at all useful.) –  Arjan May 9 '10 at 17:54
    
At least without pagination a greasemonkey script that does random ordering and hides the scores (maybe also the reputation, nicks, post-date?) shouldn't be too difficult. –  Georg Fritzsche May 9 '10 at 18:48
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1 Answer

I think the "Newest" is much more useful than random order. That shows you any answers that were "late to the party" so to speak. And besides, when coming back to a question you want the new answers, not just a random sample.

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I'm sorry, but I must say, that you haven't read my question. I mentioned the "Newest" tab twice in my question. And I also explained, why it doesn't provide what I want. –  Chris Lercher May 9 '10 at 17:19
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I still say that random ordering doesn't solve the problem at all. –  The Unhandled Exception May 9 '10 at 17:30
    
I would say, that both "newest" and "random" ordering make sense - different algorithms for different situations. "Newest" makes it possible to stay "on top". But I want to give all answers an equal chance, and "newest" doesn't provide that, because it buries the ones in the middle. –  Chris Lercher May 9 '10 at 18:01
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