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Yesterday, this question was closed and locked, which spurred this discussion here on Meta. The reason given for the lock was that it was aggregating answers and this had to be cut off at a certain point.

If this is to be the policy going forward, should there be a system-imposed cap of X answers for a given question so that this is codified somewhere and is not a per-question judgment call?

At a certain point, a question could just drop the "Add an answer" option, which would avoid the stigma of having the question locked (and potentially closed). The text below the question could indicate that no more answers were being accepted for this question, but that the users were free to submit edits to existing answers in order to improve them or add more information.

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Or at least have a hurdle: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/84870/… –  random Apr 5 '11 at 14:55
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@random - the hurdle has been implemented - meta.stackexchange.com/questions/84870/… –  ChrisF Apr 11 '11 at 10:42
    
This could have negative effects. It could increase the Fastest Gun In The West problem. –  Octavian Damiean Apr 11 '11 at 11:33
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@octavian err.. how? when there are more than 90 answers already?! –  Jeff Atwood Apr 11 '11 at 19:16
    
@Jeff oh I somehow managed to overlook the 90 answers part. I should open that question next time. Sorry. –  Octavian Damiean Apr 12 '11 at 7:46

3 Answers 3

up vote 8 down vote accepted

Probably not a bad idea, but what would a sane limit of # of answers for a question be?

90 seems reasonable to me off the cuff -- we actually want to support maybe 3 pages of answers for the legitimate "hidden features of" and "tips and tricks" threads, but once you have an absurd number of answers, no sane person is reading through them all anyway. IMHO but I'd love to hear other opinions on this.

Update: once a question has more than 30 answers, you now have to click through a mandatory nag dialog before you can actually answer:

enter image description here

This question has more than 30 answers already.

Did you read through all the existing answers first to make sure your answer will be contributing something new?

Also, please note that you can click the edit link on any of these answers to improve them.

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Just so that I get it, too: The limit of 90 answer is implemented now (as of today), but your recent edit is only slightly related - correct? –  Hendrik Vogt May 16 '11 at 15:40
    
@hendrik quoting the OP "At a certain point, a question could just drop the "Add an answer" option" -- this is now what happens, in practical terms –  Jeff Atwood May 16 '11 at 20:08
    
Thanks for the reply. Is the "certain point" 90 answers, or are you being a bit vague on purpose (which wouldn't bother me)? –  Hendrik Vogt May 17 '11 at 9:58

Other thoughts:

  • a question could become automatically protected beyond some smaller number - maybe whatever is 1 page or 2 pages
  • the algorithm that detects low quality answers could factor in the existing number of answers - so it gets harder to add trivial posts
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The problem is that the new answer that is being stopped may just be the best answer. That's way I always look at the recent answers to this type of question and up vote the best, as well as looking at the answers with the most votes.

Maybe somewhere to auto delete answers with very low up votes that are old may be a better way to keep the number of answers down.

Or order answers by “votes per view”, so answers that are new but get more up votes per 100 views get seen as well as answers that just got the up votes by being first.

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Maybe, in that case, there should be auto deletion of bad answers... (-5 or worse). To make room for better answers. –  Toon Krijthe Apr 11 '11 at 12:50
    
@Gamecat, I would say even upvoted answers that get upvotes a lot slower then other answers should be considered of less value then a possible new answer the system know nothing about. –  Ian Ringrose Apr 11 '11 at 13:17

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