Summary: High reputation users on SO come swooping in the second a simple question is posted, and get the first answer in before I've even opened my Python interpreter to test my idea out. This actually is a problem because it prevents use lower users who aren't as good at programming from getting any answers in. This makes it very hard to build up reputation. Thus, I propose a short dead time for high reputation users where their answers do not appear.

The Problem: This isn't just reputation. By answering questions and having discussions with OP, we all get better at our language. Teaching is one of the best ways of learning, and a more well versed population is absolutely good for SO. (If anyone wants to argue that, go home) While its nice to have folks who can quickly answer nearly all questions in a jiffy, its a little frustrating for those of use who simply aren't as fast, but still want to contribute. The result is that many people do not answer questions because they feel like they just can't get an edge in. SO should aim to incentivize as many answers by as many users as possible. The most answers from the most users is the most beneficial situation for the site and the community. Once we accept this idea, it is clear that something needs to be done to address the issue at hand

The Solution: Luckily, this is an easy problem to solve; we use a dead time. High reputation users can post answers whenever they like, but they won't appear until after the dead time is completed. The trick is balance, a dead time which is too long will harm the OP as the question will remain unanswered, however, a dead time which is too short won't actually fix the problem. There definitely needs to be a discussion about what "high reputation" means and what dead time to use, but it should be independent of whether y'all agree that this is a problem.

So, what do you think?

EDIT: Wow, -18, I leave for lunch for 30 minutes and this is what happens! I guess y'all think this is a bad idea, but let me try to clarify a few things on which I was unclear earlier.

This is not about reputation. This is not about getting the first answer just for the sake of getting to say "in before..." This is about learning. By getting a shot at answering questions before the high reputation users, people learn. Think of it as doing an example problem in class before the teacher does it. You get a chance to try it yourself, test your knowledge, and if you fail, then the teacher is right behind you to show the correct solution. This is what I'm trying to accomplish. However, seeing the solution, and then trying to answer the question, is not very helpful. This is how I view the status quo.

In response to Mr. Pieters' answer and comments: You're absolutely right, this is not about quantity, its about quality. The fastest answer isn't always the best. But asking the high reputation users to take a step back for a few minutes is a means of getting there.

Hopefully this clears things up a bit.

  • 10
    So, the problem you are trying to solve is people getting answers fast, and the solution is to give them answer slow?
    – Oded
    Commented Dec 9, 2013 at 16:15
  • 17
    The goal of Stack Overflow is to produce great answers for good questions. How does limiting those that are good at answering help that goal? Note that 'gaining reputation' is not the goal of the site. Commented Dec 9, 2013 at 16:16
  • 10
    Note that the goal is quality, not quantity. The line The most answers from the most users is the most beneficial situation doesn't hold, at all. Why muddy the waters? Commented Dec 9, 2013 at 16:18
  • 11
    Last, but not least: if you have a better answer than what has already been posted, then do so. The Fastest Gun in the West doesn't always aim too well. I've been on both sides of that line; both having shot fast, missing the target, and having taken my time to line up my sights, steal away the winning votes with a late post. Commented Dec 9, 2013 at 16:20
  • 2
    @MartijnPieters BCITE - Biggest Canon In The East? I take particular pride when I'm able to 'steal' an accepted answer from a FGITW one.
    – user213963
    Commented Dec 9, 2013 at 16:43
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    To your edit; you can solve that problem by simply not reading other answers before coming up with your solution. I do this from time to time just to entertain myself. There is no need to actually block other answers from being shown just to give people the opportunity to make an attempt of their own first.
    – Servy
    Commented Dec 9, 2013 at 17:00
  • So wait, you want people to wait longer to get a good answer?
    – Doorknob
    Commented Dec 9, 2013 at 19:12
  • 1
    I suppose we should force the faster runners to hang around at the starting line so races are fair for the slower runners, right?
    – user229044
    Commented Dec 10, 2013 at 3:38
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    Yes, thank you for pointing that out @meagar, your clever analogy really helped me understand the problem with my idea
    – wnnmaw
    Commented Dec 10, 2013 at 3:55

2 Answers 2


You are confused about what the goal of Stack Overflow is. We want to be the best site on the internet to find answers to programming questions.

That means we want quality answers, floating to the top, and voting and reputation are merely a tool to get there. It is not the goal to gain reputation, however much we all are into that drug.

Your proposal will hinder that goal. Higher-reputation users usually didn't get their reputation because they can answer the fastest. They got their reputation because they posted quality answers. Time did the rest, as votes come in. Yes, on easy questions, being the fastest can gain you the initial votes. But those questions are a dime a dozen, and won't get the follow-up votes later on because new visitors won't see the trees for the forest.

By limiting visibility of answers from people with a proven trackrecord in providing quality answers, you are hurting the site's ability to help people out, and would disgruntle those experienced users to boot. We'd lose some great contributors over this.

Stick around, look at the not-so-easy questions. Put in a little work. And once in a while, the fast gun-slingers miss the target, giving you a chance to post a better answer. And then the goal has been met, you helped out the OP and anyone looking for a solution to the same problem, with a great post.

If instead you wanted to learn, formulate your own answer before loading the answers being posted already. Only when you feel you have your answer ready to post, load the other posts that have been added, and compare and see if you missed something.

However, to demand that experienced users cannot post an answer just so you can learn, is not fair and not helpful. That'd be subverting the goal of the site for entirely selfish reasons. What would everyone else (including the question asker) get out of that?

  • Please see my edit, and let me know what you think. I don't believe that high rep users will be disgruntled as they've put tremendous effort to get to where they are. Would you leave if you're asked to wait a few minutes to answer?
    – wnnmaw
    Commented Dec 9, 2013 at 16:56
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    @wnnmaw If I wrote an answer both quicker, and better, than someone else, but their answer was shown before mine just because they have less rep then me, then you bet I'd be upset. The vast majority of attention for most questions is in the first few minutes; having answers not shown in that time is a big deal.
    – Servy
    Commented Dec 9, 2013 at 16:57
  • 1
    @wnnmaw: I would do my best to dissuade whomever came up with the idea that it would hurt the site. Then if it was implemented anyway, I probably would leave, yes, as that means Stack Overflow is so longer the same place it is today. Commented Dec 9, 2013 at 16:58
  • Heh, well from the looks of it, I doubt even Stalin would implement this. Thanks for your feedback
    – wnnmaw
    Commented Dec 9, 2013 at 16:59
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    @wnnmaw: If this is about wanting to learn, then don't load the other answers until you have formulated your own response! Why do those with the answer have to wait until you figured it out? That is just not something you can ask of everyone else. Commented Dec 9, 2013 at 17:01

I think this would be a bad idea. I don't know about others but I certainly don't vote for answers based on the reputation of who answers them. High reputation users may have a slight edge but you would be wrong to assume that a user of a reputation of 1 has a significant handicap against a user with a reputation of, say, 6000.

If you think a high reputation user's answer is a really good one, but it misses some detail, one way you can get up votes is to post a supplementary answer explaining what is missing. If the high reputation user's answer misreads the question or gets it wrong, you have an edge.

So this seems like a solution in search of a problem.

  • I wonder if making it harder for high reputation users to hunt for reputation would make them seek alternative incentives like gold badges and hence make them even more useful... for instance I'd like experienced users to go answer many neglected questions and earn gold.
    – Nemo
    Commented May 8, 2015 at 7:29

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