Sometimes I want to answer a question that looks like it will take me a good amount of time to answer....it will involve a bit of research, writing some code, experimenting, etc. I'd like to make an attempt to answer it (both for the reputation points and for the challenge), but I feel that if I try, someone will likely beat me to it and I will have wasted my time. While it's often great that the current system encourages quick answers, I think the site would be better if it wasn't always so much a speed competition, and people weren't always stomping all over each other to post first to "win the prize"....and instead were encouraged to take the time to answer questions well.
I think the current setup can discourage more thoughtful answers -- answers that might be better overall. I also think it discourages a certain type of question....those that really require a more lengthy solution (e.g. the "help me write this challenging algorithm" or "help me design a good object model" type of question). People sometimes don't bother answering them, or answering them well, because the last time they put that kind of time into it, someone beat them to it and got the points. Finally, I think it discourages a large percentage of users from participating at all, because it can be so hard to earn points, unless they have super encyclopedic knowledge -- even if they are willing to put in the time and effort.
I wonder if any thought has been put into ways to address this. For instance, one way might be for someone to post something that says "I'm working on this, I'll be done in an hour" . Then when done, they could edit the post with their answer. Although this is possible with the current site, it seems like really bad form. I wonder if there is a way to do it through the UI that would label the question as "being worked on" and by whom, so people can take that into account when choosing whether to put the time into trying to answer it themselves. Note that if someone does this, but then lets it expire without posting, it would cost them a few points.
Even the person who posts the question could influence this, by somehow saying "I'm in no hurry for an answer, take your time, I won't select an answer for at least X hours" (but not having to spell it out like that...just by selecting some UI control).
I know this would add complexity to the site, (I prefer the term "sophistication" to "complexity" though :) ), but I think it is worth discussion.