I'd like to request an answer timeout feature based on the number of karma points a user has.

Purpose: I've been on the site for about two years and noticed that highly experienced (10k+) users are answering very simple questions which could easily be answered by newer users.

I see two added benefits to this system:

  1. Experienced users would be required to wait longer to respond which means their answers would be weighted more heavily on content rather than being "first" with a "good enough" answer that is edited later to be more complete.

  2. For more complex or complicated questions this timeout would likely not affect high karma users as the duration taken to understand the question would likely exceed the timeout period.

Proposed timeout periods are 1 minute per 1,000 points with no additional increase after 10,000 points.

Points       Timeout Period
0-999        No timeout
1000-1999    1 minute
2000-2999    2 minutes
3000-3999    3 minutes
9000-9999    9 minutes
10k+         10 minutes

OP note: StackOverflow e-mail support suggested that this idea might have been submitted before, but I was unable to find a duplicate proposal using the relatively simple tags "answer" and "timeout".

  • 12
    I disagree. This would imply that reputation is greater than a user getting a valid answer. It's not. Reputation is just the benefit of participation. Jun 2, 2013 at 23:52
  • There's a hidden cost that's not being discussed in the answers I've seen. Assuming points correlates with programming ability, when high level users are engaged answering fairly trivial and common questions it's detracting from the time spent on answering complex questions.
    – user184971
    Jun 3, 2013 at 0:31
  • 3
    Points don't correlate with programming ability; it's a mistake to assume otherwise. There are likely expert programmers out there who haven't created accounts on Stack Overflow.
    – jmort253
    Jun 3, 2013 at 1:02
  • 4
    Huuuuuuuuuuuuuuuge problem with that: high-point users that know the answer probably won't wait, they'll just leave and never come back to the question.
    – Ben Brocka
    Jun 3, 2013 at 2:10

4 Answers 4


Let's not do that. I want users to get the best answers as fast as possible. It's one of the site's strong points and to me is far more important than the perceived difficulty to get rep for newer users.

P.s. the fast answer problem you're referring to has often been discussed here under the name of "fastest gun in the west". It was determined to not be an actual problem.


In the Olympics, they don't let the known slower runners have a head start. Everyone starts in unison at the sound of the bang. Same on Stack Overflow. I'm a fairly low ranking member but if I don't shoot from the hip and nail the answer within a couple of seconds, maybe I'll learn to type faster/think faster next time.

As I said in my comment, this would imply that reputation is valued higher than giving the user a quick, valid answer. That just seems wrong, especially since it goes against the intent of the site. The number one priority of any website is content generation. If content isn't getting generated because higher rep users are being held at the gate, waiting for the timeout, how effective is that for content generation?

  • I understand the validity of your analogy but I think it's inaccurate. The Olympics has a screening process that intentionally bars non-elite athletes from competing. As for content generation I would expect low-level users to pick up the slack on easy questions. Nothing in this proposal would bar high-level users from providing feedback on answers submitted by others.
    – user184971
    Jun 3, 2013 at 0:50
  • 1
    Removing the big fish from the water only creates a sense of false security. New users will never learn to think quick and reply quicker if they get timeout handouts. You have a responsibility as an answer giver on Stack Overflow to bring your A game. Technically, if you feel confident enough to post an answer that you believe will work, you are implying that you are in the same caliber as any other 10K+ rep user. That is the natural screening process of being a Stack Overflow user. Jun 3, 2013 at 1:09
  • Actually, the goal of the site is not to be a race. It's to provide answers as fast as possible (among other things). The "race" aspect is just how the system makes people post answers as fast as possible. Rep is irrelevant. Whoever is first usually takes the cake.
    – Mysticial
    Jun 3, 2013 at 1:09
  • @Mysticial, in hindsight, probably a bad analogy, but the overall point remains the same. I think the voting and flagging system definitely helps defeat the problem with bad answers too. Jun 3, 2013 at 1:11
  • @ChristopherW Nah, your analogy is pretty good. I just wanted to clarify that while it is a race, it isn't the point of the site.
    – Mysticial
    Jun 3, 2013 at 1:16

As an asker, I would have to wait longer for a high quality answer (on average, I'm not saying high quality answers are only from high rep users!)
This seems like a poor deal for the OP.

This suggestion would mainly benefit low quality answers.
If they were high quality they wouldn't need the additional help.

And, where's the fun in winning the race if you started 10 minutes early?


You seem to think that the only difference between 10K+ and 0K+ users is the time spent SOing. It's often so in MMORPG, right. I probably should remind you here that SO isn't MMORPG, but that's not the point.

In reality, the key difference is experience of being an SOer. Of trying to answer the question often formulated as vague and incomplete as possible. That's, believe me, is not the same as simply knowing the technologies and techniques.

For example, too many times I've seen quite reasonable questions literally swarmed by what seemed to be good answers in the first 5 minutes.

Except that they were not good answers. They were easy answers. Mostly given by the guys underestimating the scope of the problem - in a hurry to win the race (and the race between those will still be there).

Now we got the system when someone more experienced (the key point here) may intervene fast and show what's wrong with other answers, and what will be a good one indeed. What you propose will make this virtually impossible: no one will wait for some timer to tick out and let them give their reasoning (comments are nice, but formatting your code there is a nightmare). So they'll just move on.

So, in a nutshell, your proposal won't benefit the questioners, and it'll hardly benefit the answerers - except for a small share of those extremely bright 0K+ guys who somehow always got beaten by 10K+ repomonsters (and don't even get me started about Jon Skeet here!)

  • +1: I think there is an unwritten rule somewhere when discussing reputation, Jon Skeet should be mentioned somewhere. Jun 3, 2013 at 3:24