I recently answered a question on SO that was a couple of hours old and had no answer. I later came back and found a second answer sorted before mine based on age. After investigating, I saw that the answer had been deleted prior to my looking/posting and then undeleted later, but retained the age of the original answer.

Is this the appropriate behavior? I spent considerable effort doing the investigation that led to my answer which I probably would/could have avoided if I'd been aware of the deleted answer. Further, since the undeleted answer was more thorough, it looks like I added a less thorough answer later in some misguided attempt to get points or because I didn't understand that mine didn't add any value. It also occurs to me that people could "game" the current system by answering and quickly deleting their answer in order to get the "pole position" on undelete, although in no way do I think that's what happened here.

I realize this is a tails case and that if I'm willing to give up the rep points, I can at least partially address my concern by deleting my answer at this point, but I thought I'd raise the question. Would it make sense to use the undeleted age for answer sorting purposes? Or should the behavior be kept as is?

  • Related: Bump a deleted answer when it's undeleted, not when it's edited This wouldn't have changed anything in your case, you just happened to post in the interval during which the answer was deleted. Aug 18, 2013 at 14:17
  • Related feature request to this discussion topic: Timestamps on deleted and then undeleted answers Aug 18, 2013 at 15:34
  • @psubsee2003 and Arjan - You're point about intro length is well taken, but I'm curious: Would you have deleted the paragraph you deleted if I'd included it at the end of the question instead? Aug 18, 2013 at 15:47
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    @PeterAlfvin frankly, I deleted it partially for your own benefit. Long discussions about why people vote and to actively explain why you are trying to avoid downvotes usually backfire and attract more downvotes. Aug 18, 2013 at 15:49
  • In addition to inherently not liking downvotes, which is something I don't think I can control, I find the convention of mixing opinion about quality of the question with opinion about any embedded proposal to be counterproductive. Aug 18, 2013 at 15:51
  • Peter, the "voting on Meta is different" should only apply to feature requests. But well...
    – Arjan
    Aug 18, 2013 at 15:52
  • @PeterAlfvin that is a valid argument and one that is shared by a number of prominent MSO users. However, it is usually only a problem when you do not have a well written post. If you write well, and are respectful, you will usually not get quality related downvotes. Aug 18, 2013 at 15:53
  • @PeterAlfvin as for your actual topic, it is a very valid point, but I'm not really sure how I feel about it yet. The situation you described is somewhat uncommon, but it obviously not an isolated problem. I'd be interested in understanding the motivations for the status quo from someone who has more insight than I do. Aug 18, 2013 at 15:56
  • @psubsee2003 I think the problem is still present even with quality posts because you can't separate "good question" from "I like your proposal". Aug 18, 2013 at 15:57
  • @PeterAlfvin true - which is why there are people who share your opinion. I think there might be a discussion somewhere about it. I'll see if I can find it for you Aug 18, 2013 at 15:58
  • @PeterAlfvin Here's one: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/270/…, and here's another related post for you: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/157124/… Aug 18, 2013 at 16:06
  • Like I wrote, Peter, "officially" voting for (dis)agreement should only happen when questions are tagged feature-request. (Cc @psubsee) Now, for answers I guess it doesn't matter a lot how the question is tagged.
    – Arjan
    Aug 18, 2013 at 16:12
  • @Arjan FWIW, I can't imagine that anything written in the FAQ would have much effect on MSO downvoting practices viz-a-viz tag types. I think it's human nature to downvote opinions you disagree with. Do you know if anyone has proposed that feature requests be presented in Q&A format, where the requester has to create a question (e.g. "Is there a better way to ..."?, "Should we support ..."?) and the respond to it with their feature request proposal? Aug 18, 2013 at 16:35
  • Sure, you could. But what would be the advantage of that, Peter? Then we'd just have to downvote an answer we disagree with rather than a question. Downvoting things we disagree with is an excellent way to prioritize issues and signal community consensus. I don't know why people resist it so much. Aug 19, 2013 at 3:51
  • I see a couple of advantages. First of all, you'd be able to get a real read on the importance of the question/problem if you factored out any solutions. Also, people don't downvote questions on SO about subjects they don't care about, they just vote up the ones they do care about, so you still get your "weighting" factor in a more positive spirit. I think the same will be true with MSO. Similarly, votes on answers/solutions will be separated from opinion on question/problems so that they can be clearly interpreted. Aug 19, 2013 at 4:01


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