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I keep seeing questions where one or more of the “answers” (often from drive-by, 1-rep users) is of the I have this problem too variety.

I just checked Meta and was not surprised to see a bunch of mentions of this, but was surprised at the lack of proposed solutions.

To figure out a way to prevent this requires getting into the mind of the people who do it. Ostensibly, these people are Googling around for a solution to their problem, then stumble upon the SE page and find that there is no satisfactory answer, so they just scroll down to the bottom of the page and type into the big text field as they would normally do on FaceBook, blogs, and the like where responding to a post/thread means entering the response into the big text field at the bottom.

One solution then becomes to not show the big text field by default. That way, the—novice—user is forced to look around for a method of text-entry, and will be much more likely to see the add comment links. Then, whomever wants to supply an actual answer can simply click an answer this question or provide solution link that expands and displays the Your Answer section. Not only would that have almost no impact on answerers, but it leaves the page looking cleaner by default since most people are not going to be providing an answer anyway.

Further, the answer section could be automatically collapsed for users with 1-rep (or

This would be a low-impact, easy-to-implement way to prevent answer-comments.

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Drive by 1-rep users don't have an option to comment; see New users can't ask for clarifications except as answers. (And as an aside: for new question askers, the comments area is auto-expanded on every answer and their question, so they should see it.) –  Arjan Feb 3 '11 at 14:44
    
True, but then again, a me-too comment isn’t very useful either. (Although adding a comment could very well allow new user to provide more detail that could help in resolving the problem, therefore allowing new users to comment is something that should be considered more.) Actually, the FAQ for Meta says that you only need 1-rep to leave comments. Why is it okay here, but not on the other sites? –  Synetech Feb 3 '11 at 15:35
    
On Meta one needs to be a registered user, maybe that matters. But the difference between registered and unregistered is not too clear to me either. :-) Also, there's less Google traffic of course. (I did upvote this request, but just wanted to ensure you know that be much more likely to see the add comment links won't be true for drive-by users. Your last edit is incomplete?) –  Arjan Feb 3 '11 at 15:44
    
For @Arjan and Synetech, Meta only requires 1 reputation for comments because discussion is necessary here - they represent not full lifeblood like questions but are still a core aspect of handling our stuff. Other sites, as explained in various Meta posts, should focus on the actual Q&A. The rep requirement thus discourages the concept of joining just to sit and chat, but that one must become a productive contributor to the community. –  Grace Note Feb 3 '11 at 17:30

2 Answers 2

Interesting, however I think this is destined to become [status-declined].

One of the key benefits to Stack Exchange is that it has very low barriers to participation.

The barriers for asking questions are higher as we've had increasing numbers of bad questions being posted. However, the barriers for answers need to be lower as the whole point of the network is to get answers to your problem and get them fast.

There are procedures in place - the /review page for new & low quality posts, moderator flags and even the low user edit suggestions as well as down-votes which can and do deal with bad answers. Questions can also be Protected (users need at least 10 rep to post).

It's right that this is discussed periodically as the situation does change and if ever there was seen to be a large problem with these answers then your suggestion - along with all the others - will (hopefully) be considered.

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Excellent answer. Let me just add that the first answers list to me looks like the low barrier to participation is a good idea overall. –  balpha Feb 3 '11 at 14:25
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I don't know - I think this could work if it were only implemented for page views when the referrer is google (or bing/yahoo/etc), because the vast majority of the time these people are looking to get help rather than answer a question. –  Joel Coehoorn Feb 3 '11 at 14:32
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@Joel - interesting idea. That might be the answer. If referrer = search engine (Google, Bing etc.) then hide the answer box. Hmm. –  ChrisF Feb 3 '11 at 14:36
    
One extra click is considered a “barrier”? If that were true, then I would assume that answering the question at all is a barrier. –  Synetech Feb 3 '11 at 15:28

I really would not like to have click "Add Answer" each time I answered a question. However, if the answer box could be hidden just for users that aren't logged in then that might be alright.

The other thing I wonder about, is how often does this happen? I don't remember having seen a case like this yet. (Maybe the mods or others get to it before I see it).

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I like this better than my referrer-sniffing idea -- only show it when the user is logged in. –  Joel Coehoorn Feb 3 '11 at 14:43
    
For example cases: see google.com/… (But to see how many answers were deleted, you'll need 10k.) –  Arjan Feb 3 '11 at 14:56
    
You have to click the “answer” button at a minimum; I don’t see why one extra little click is so cumbersome. However, if you answer that many questions each day (and thus are presumably viewing questions more often to answer than to read), then you’ve probably also got a relatively high rep, and so leaving it visible for users with a certain amount of rep would resolve the issue. –  Synetech Feb 3 '11 at 15:31
    
Yes you have to click to post an answer but adding one more click will actually double the total number needed to add an answer. (That is not huge, but answering a question is one of the most common items and one that needs to be encouraged in most cases) –  jzd Feb 3 '11 at 16:24
    
I highly doubt that answering questions is the most common task on StackExchange sties, in fact most people are merely view the threads and those that participate often comment or vote. I’m sure that if stats were compiled, actually answering questions would fall somewhere in the top 3-5 most common actions. –  Synetech Feb 3 '11 at 18:14
    
I think you might have misread my comment. I said "One of the most common", I do realize that viewing and voting are more common. But both of those items require a single click. –  jzd Feb 3 '11 at 18:20
    
Yes, and pressing all those keys to type all those words to answer a question is many, many times more work and time-consuming than a single mouse-click. –  Synetech Feb 4 '11 at 18:35

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