This question is only related to this question, but the context of the question is different than my suggestion.
I also found, understand and agree with this related question. But again the motivation and proposal are different.

Stackoverflow is (as I read and understand) an evolving 'hybrid' between a Q&A site and a forum, even adding chat-possibility's to elaborate and collaborate on (more advanced, specific or not-so-clear-cut) questions.

Editing and improving (and aftercare as in: cleaning up your answers/solutions/explanations and even comments for future reference) is not frowned upon, yet even desirable and officially encouraged.

The 'problem' I see is this:
When the question is 'hot' (by which I mean that the asker has just asked the question, is online and waiting for answers, and answerers/participants are actively working on or often even collaborating), the USE of stackoverflow often tips the balance to a 'hybrid' chat.
Yet the non-linearity (due to encouraged revisions and such) and both party's not interactively 'knowing' what the other is 'doing'/reading, makes the second main-purpose (solving the askers problem) of stackoverflow a lot less productive for both party's:

  • if askers do not know if an answerer is posting/editing/revising their answer/comment
    (if they knew there is a revision/answer/comment coming up and they are more likely to stay around and participate in solving their question, instead of loosing patients, doing something else, forgetting about their question and ultimately get a higher solve and acceptance rate)
  • answerers/participants do not know if/when their (updated) answer/comment was displayed to the asker.
    (complicating the process of updating/editing their questions/comments while knowing/predicting what info probably was read by the asker)

A possible solution/improvement:
Although I think my suggestion is already relative clear by now, I'll try to outline it more clearly.

Thinking of information-exchange on a need-to-know basis is not only 'good programming' but a pretty good logic in general.
So while respecting and maintaining the current intended policy (of answerers not knowing when/who or how much 'colleagues' are working on the question, as to not 'demotivate' possible better answers which should lead to more quality answers), I see no good reason not to implement such a useful update to stackoverflow(-like sites).

So: askers should be interactively aware if there is activity on their question, answerers need to know if askers read their posts. Currently new posts/updates flash orange one time at fresh display. One could use this as a hook for starters, but it would be even better if there was a 'button' askers could check that they read that comment/answer/update.

One could even think crudely of it like this: like in msn, where you see the other is typing, and like on some other chat/message systems where you can see if 'the user has read your last message'. These examples (in my opinion) also confirms this behaviour confirms to known and expected 'human behaviour', especially improving interactivity.

Thank you for taking the time to read and evaluate my suggestion and it's motivation. I know it's my first post but I really did my best make it a decent and properly motivated one.

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    This seems like an overly complex solution for a problem that I don't think even exists. – yannis Aug 9 '12 at 7:23
  • Please explain the downvote, this view/motivation behind question is different than the existing relevant questions I could find. Let me and others learn and provide a reason for the future readers/researchers ? – GitaarLAB Aug 9 '12 at 7:23
  • @yannis Rizos: why do you see this as a complex solution? All the needed technology is already in use on stack-overflow. IE: while rereading my question, I saw it down vote happening.. – GitaarLAB Aug 9 '12 at 7:25
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    Voting on Meta is different, down votes usually indicate disagreement. What you don't take into consideration (for example) is drafts, I often start writing a question and abandon it if a better one appears, or, you know, the phone rings. I may or may not choose to continue writing my answer at a later time, will the "someone is answering" stay stuck there? Furthermore, even if this was simple technically, I don't think it solves a problem. It might or might not improve the overall experience, but it doesn't solve a problem. – yannis Aug 9 '12 at 7:28
  • @Yannis Rizos: thank you for the explanation on the different voting-system. It does not 'feel' right to loose reputation over a well formed and researched question and opening for a discussion with a different view on this matter, but that is then a sidenote from a new user. I do however see your point with 'answering the phone' and such. But that is why I also clearly tagged this suggestion with 'discussion'. As a small extra example: I as asker saw no new pageviews, and almost clicked another tab when I JUST saw your latest comment popping up.. just saying for discussion's sake ! – GitaarLAB Aug 9 '12 at 7:35
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    Another thing that I don't like about more interactivity, is that it might potentially bring more competition. We are already an extremely competitive bunch, and we already have a problem with people trying to post answers as fast as possible. I really don't think we should be encouraging that. – yannis Aug 9 '12 at 7:38
  • Also a point on Meta rep: It's just a quirk, a relic of the past, and it means absolutely nothing. In fact Meta Stack Overflow is the only Meta that generates rep, on all other Stack Exchange sites your Meta rep is tied to your main site rep, you neither lose or gain rep from your posts. – yannis Aug 9 '12 at 7:41
  • @Yannis Rizos: that is explicitly NOT what I proposed! I proposed to maintain the current policy of 'competitors' not knowing what the other does. It might even prevent a small part of answering as fast as possible, since you as answerer are not in the extra hurry (besides the 'pressure' of competitors) to answer before the asker leaves (for unknown time). – GitaarLAB Aug 9 '12 at 7:41
  • @Yannis Rizos: see this non-linearity in the order of our comments? Again a example that could have been prevented, making the 'threads' more readable to future readers to. Again, for discussions sake :) About the rep: i'm confused, I had 101 before asking this question and every downvote cost me 2 rep, so I'm now on 97. – GitaarLAB Aug 9 '12 at 7:44
  • Yes, I didn't really express that, what I meant is: There's already pressure to the answerer, as they see whether other answers have popped up while they are writing theirs, I don't want the added pressure of having to check whether the asker is still there or not, and rushing to answer just in case they leave. I think it's better if you assume from the start that the asker has already left. – yannis Aug 9 '12 at 7:45
  • @Yannis Rizos: Ok, but I suggested to inform the answerer that his answer/comment/revision has (possibly) been read by the asker. Not to inform him that the asker is online. Need to know basis, was my point of view. edit 3: now I do not know if you have read my edits to this comment and/or are already typing your response while I'm still editing this message... Again.. for discussions sake. – GitaarLAB Aug 9 '12 at 7:46
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    Just FYI: I'm having a really difficult time following the sentences with so many parenthesized interjections in between them... – animuson Aug 9 '12 at 7:50
  • @animuson: I am sorry for that, I guess it's me being a coder trying to compact the post. – GitaarLAB Aug 9 '12 at 7:51
  • @Yannis Rizos: I gave some thought about your point of 'picking up the phone while answering': Why not do: if the answerer hasn't typed in (or changed) his text-input box for x-amount of time, clear the answerers 'working on'-flag that is only displayed to the asker anyway's. Technically no problem and can be made light on the browser. That should solve that reservation.. That's why I also tagged this as discussion :) – GitaarLAB Aug 9 '12 at 8:07
  • "that is explicitly NOT what I proposed!" - yes. But how do you ensure that people don't start using the feature in an undesirable way. You can't just think "what's the best that can happen" if a feature is implemented, you need to consider the downside too, and how those two things balance. Speaking of downsides, you'd get people expecting/demanding immediate answers from people once a "dialogue" had started. Yes I know it would be regarded as abusive so it would get stamped out, but it would be annoying in the meantime. That's not attractive to me. – Rob Moir Aug 9 '12 at 13:01

Personally, I don't see a problem in the current state.

The point of the SE network is to be Q&A sites, on which the answers remain, and can help someone later. They are made in such way to push people to make the best quality answers: it's very easy to edit a question or answer to improve it. And it is also "rewarded" in a way, since an edit pushes the question on the top of recent activity. So a quality answer can gather more votes.

My point is, your problem seems to be with the "immediate" situation. Someone comes with a problem and wants answers fast. And in such case you would prefer more interaction, which is understandable. Having separate posts, and being unable to see what others are doing is preventing a kind of "instant collaboration" that you seem to look for.

But then again, that's because the ultimate goal of such sites is not in this direct interaction, but building answers lasting the time. What you are looking for is probably already solved by simply taking a problem to the chat. If your problem requires a lot of interaction, feel free to open a chat room going with it, and link to it.

Edit: Also, if you really need that amount of interaction, it could also be because of one of those two reasons:

  1. Your initial question was not precise enough. There were not enough details to actually make a concrete answer. In this case, the question should be improved. A Q&A should be about concrete questions and concrete answers, no need for much interaction besides that.

  2. Your issue requires heavy troubleshooting because you have no idea where even could be the problem. In this case, the Q&A format is not really adapted. What you need is a chat, and people leading you through several steps of diagnosis.

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  • ok, so the goal is to actually prevent interaction between asker and answerer? That is a little 'disturbing' to me. I think we could do both. On top of that I see an overload of abandoned questions having halve/non-confirmed 'solutions'. And actually, in the 'hot' fase of the question, 'taking' the asker to a chatbox also would lead there attention away from other possible answers, which seems undesirable and even against the desired idea of not collaborating.. – GitaarLAB Aug 9 '12 at 8:14
  • I want to add another thing: I have seen a lot of very good and highly up-voted questions where the quality for future reference is actually the result of multiple answerers and the asker collaborating, followed by a clean-up (and an accept to the most contributing participant). Those 'threads' often even have the best information. I'm sure every-one has seen such questions/solutions over the years. – GitaarLAB Aug 9 '12 at 8:24
  • @GitaarLAB You have interaction, with comments. With comments you can ask for missing details in order to answer a question. But in general, if you need more interaction than that, it could indicate a problem with the question itself not being suited for the format. See my edit. – Gnoupi Aug 9 '12 at 8:27
  • hehe, I see you are king of edit, like me :) I to want to participate in creating a long lasting quality q&a database, that is why I finally joined in the first place :) Anyway, I do like the contents of your edit, I feel it does add another good perspective. And.. again.. for discussions sake.. had I known you where editing your question, I might have waited reading your previous edit untill you were done editing your last edit. Just again to explain and clarify my reasoning behind my suggestion and call for discussion. – GitaarLAB Aug 9 '12 at 8:28
  • @GitaarLAB - that's because comments even shouldn't be used for chatting. The meta sites are a particular case, of course, since it requires often a lot of debating. But on the regular sites, it's not really the place for discussion. Long talks are discouraged in comments, and it will even propose you open a chat room to continue the discussion, after a number of comments. – Gnoupi Aug 9 '12 at 8:32
  • I'm accepting this answer, since it is the only one left to accept (and this question has cost me enough rep, just for having an idea). (It is also the answer I would have accepted originally when there was still choice, because you did try to understand my point of view). The core of my suggestion is however perfectly illustrated in my previous comment (from 8:28). That would save time and effort for all parties involved. – GitaarLAB Apr 8 '13 at 20:14

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