I have been on StackOverflow for about a month now and I am noticing a pattern. The faster you get your answer in, the more chance you have of getting it upvoted. Even if it is not complete. And generally the more votes your gets, the better chance it has of being accepted.

I initially tried to post quality answers but got tired of my answer being lost to the multitude of similar answers that get thrown in before hand. Only after they have added their one-liner, do they then edit it to add links and examples.

My question is this, is this the way that the site works? Like a flock of birds going after a seed? Does speed really matter more than quality?

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    Whatever you decide to you, strongly consider making your first answer an actual answer. Don't just post nonsense or an incomplete thought just to be first. It is just as annoying as people you used to post "First" in threads in forums, plus you risk downvotes for yourself. Commented Nov 20, 2013 at 17:51
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    Also ask yourself if you're here strictly to get reputation, or to provide helpful answers. Rep is nice, but you're likely to have a better experience if you keep it in perspective and don't make it the only think you care about on the site, not that it's meaningless either.
    – Servy
    Commented Nov 20, 2013 at 18:33
  • It depends on how difficult the question is, if a lot of people can answer it there will inevitably be a rush. Commented Nov 20, 2013 at 19:21
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    Once you get to a certain rep level, going for easy bugfix questions becomes less satisfying. Consider spending time in tags where answers come in much more slowly, and where you will have time to build up a substantial and unique answer.
    – halfer
    Commented Nov 20, 2013 at 19:31

1 Answer 1


I'm fairly new here too, but for what it's worth here are some observations from my first two months of answering questions at SO, most of them reasons to take your time:

  • The obvious one is that if your fast answer is a half-answer or simply lacking explanation for your clever "one-liner", you may get down voted or flagged as low quality. Smart people sometimes end up just looking silly (or even petty) when another better answer comes along that highlights the sloppiness of their answer or exposes a mistake. It's always embarrassing when someone points out a typo or a flaw, in the comments right below your answer. Sure, you can fix the problem, but the comment will likely remain.

  • Random ordering of equal score answers is on your side, at least a little. Seconds don't matter. Fix typos, add explanation, put on the polish, then post. However, there is often the expectation that the late answerer should delete their post if the core of solution is identical. You be the judge.

  • A fast answer may require many edits to become a good answer. It may end up as a community wiki if you break the 10 edit threshold. I got bitten by this twice in my first month.

  • Very good answers to nuanced questions that come a day later often end up getting the most votes or even accepted.

    If the OP is patient enough to wait or disciplined enough to change their accepted answer, it won't matter. No, really. I've had this go both ways for me. If someone is willing to invest the time to make a really stellar answer it will gain recognition even after another great answer was previously accepted. ;) That's the way it should work and I'm glad it does!

  • Even marginal quality questions with apparently simple answers can have excellent and broadly applicable answers. Expand on the topic, provide useful links, discuss related concepts that may have obviated the need for the question in the first place, etc. I think that's the point of the Revival badge, at least in part.

I don't know much about the Fastest Gun in the West Problem and how Stack Overflow has tried to address it, but what I have learned is that it is best to ensure you have a decent answer regardless of how fast you post it. Then improve away! Most voters recognize sloppy answers and great answers.

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    +1 The question may be a duplicate, but this is a great answer.
    – Geobits
    Commented Nov 20, 2013 at 19:27

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