This should be a comment to Jeff's response but it doesn't fit in the comment space so I had to make it an answer:
I find the resistance to the new votes sort ordering from a vocal minority very perplexing.
You made an implicit assumption that this is the "minority" and the other way (apparently how reddit guys think) is the "majority." There's no way to prove whether it's true or not in general but as Rich B pointed out in a comment to this question, it doesn't really matter. Everyone is free to express his or her opinion on Meta SO and apparently, the "majority" of the "vocal minority," who represent people that care about SO are against this change. Next, you targeted an implicit ad-hominem attack on people expressing their opinions here. Apparently, you are accusing them of "whining" because "they are at a disadvantage." Most of these guys are high profile users on SO (cletus, Rich B, tvanfosson, TheTXI, ...) who have contributed heavily to the sites. This proves they really care about your Website. I'm sure this whining is purely a result of they caring. I find this implicit accusation on the borderline of being insulting to the high profile users of your site. It's like saying "Shut up or you're one of "them"."
Note that it's not resistance. We didn't boycott StackOverflow. We just expressed our opinions.
To clarify, due to daily reputation cap, it doesn't make any real difference (rep-wise) for most of the users who've "whined." They'll achieve their cap easily regardless of the system in place because they provide plenty of good answers.
First, to clarify: this has nothing to do with tactical downvoting. It is not meant to address that issue at all. Tactical downvoting is the same as it ever was.
I'm not saying there hasn't been any kind of tactical downvoting before. What I'm saying is that it increases the benefit of tactical downvoting. In this system, if someone with a later answer downvotes you, he has much more chance to get upvoted.
Beside that, it now makes downvoting duplicates an ethical and good practice. I, for one, think you should downvote duplicate answers that come later (on all posts, not only your posts.) This is not inherently a bad thing. However, it encourages "revenge votes." You downvote a duplicate answer and he'll get angry and will downvote you.
It's purely a fix for the votes sort order. The answers are sorted by votes. But what sort order do you use when every question has the same score? We had to pick something, so we picked LastActivityDate. I was never happy with this choice (it wasn't even really a conscious choice, honestly), since it had a side effect -- we were implicitly rewarding behavior other than composing answers worthy of upvotes!
It was the natural choice. It was so natural you made that decision unconsciously. You were quite happy with it. Listen to your podcasts. Actually, I think (I'm not sure, though) the new decision is highly influenced by that reddit thread. It was the right thing to encourage quick answers and this was considered "by-design" in SO. If anything, between two identical answers, the older one should be rewarded the most.
Now answers with the same vote score are in random order. Which means answers can correctly be judged based on their merit as answers, not by who happens to end up first in the accidental secondary sort order we didn't even intend to be relevant in the first place.
First, it's not accidental. It's an indirect results of many parameters like when you've seen the question and how much you know about the topic. Obviously, Jon Skeet doesn't need to search about a question about say, a
switch statement but some other guy might just Google stuff and copy paste there. Second, the OP wants a quick answer as fast as possible. There is a distinction between a "half-complete" answer and a "wrong" one. I believe posting a "half-complete" answer as soon as possible directly helped achieving one of the hallmarks of StackOverflow, which is "getting answer immediately." Third, this is really the behavior we've had before. If the answers were virtually identical, the fastest one would get upvotes and if the answers were not identical, the better one would eventually float to top.
To the extent that people have "optimized" strategies around that behavior, it's completely a side-effect. A distraction.
Another thing mentioned in the other thread is that people are used to the old behavior. They think the answer floating on top is the first one and upvote accordingly. Even if this decision was a good one, it's significant enough that it should have been mentioned explicitly.
Bottom line: if you want to get upvotes, WRITE A GREAT ANSWER.
This has been happening ALL THE TIME. SO is full of great answers at the top of questions. And by the way, if you really believe in this decision, you should really consider stop docking the accepted answer to the question. If the best answer, quality-wise, is supposed to be on top, let it be the most upvoted. (This is just a side note. It's not a part of my argument.)
(comment) "There is no drawback to posting late?" Not so. The earlier you post, the more opportunity for people to VOTE for your answer. If you wait, you're losing potential votes. – Jeff Atwood♦
Exactly, there's more opportunity to VOTE for your answer. Vote is not equal to "upvote." Let's not forget this vote can be both "upvote" and "downvote." Let's not forget that in the "fastest gun" version, if you posted a crap sooner than anyone, you would have been voted down to the oblivion. It's not always been a good thing.
Bottom line: You've not addressed the SCITE problem; the fundamental problem with this issue. So far, your answer was effectively like saying "Hey, I can do it so I did it." IMO, This is a valid response but if you want to use it, you should be open about it. It's not possible to say "StackOverflow is run by You" and this statement at the same time. Definitely, we don't want to deal with "propaganda" on StackOverflow. You can choose to come back to the spirit of StackOverflow (either by providing a good solution for SCITE or reverting to the old system) or jump the shark and be more like "hyphen." It's all up to you. :)