I know that the "fastest gun" problem has been discussed many times, but I'm not sure if anyone has proposed this solution. To me, it seems that the root of the problem is that answering easy, new questions is the best way to gain reputation at StackO.
When a problem gets old (which is really fast!), no one wants to bother answering it because they are afraid that the poster has found an independent solution or has lost interest in the question, making their "investment" not worthwhile. And of course, old questions are also less visible.
Of course the problem is, most truly challenging questions are ignored, and StackOverflow has become a site where people race to blurb one sentence solutions to easy questions. Over time, users become disillusioned about the possibility of getting more in-depth help.
Anyway, I think we need an algorithm where we reward people for answering more difficult questions, not just the latest questions. There are many ways to rank how "difficult" a question is:
- The ratio of views to answers
- The ratio of age to answers
- The ratio of question upvotes to answers
- The size of any bounty
- A combination of all three