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Many users decide to ask questions on SE sites when they are done spending time googling for the answer. That would explain why it's no rare to see question demonstrating tight deadlines or even desperation. Wouldn't it be great, specially on those cases, if we could know when someone is working on our questions? It's worth mentioning that some answers does take time to be written.

We can see how many people have seen our questions and the number of answers it's gotten, but we lack a mechanism saying: "2 users are elaborating answers to this question".

Another side effect of that would be users prioritizing questions that have no one working on them avoiding duplicate answers.

I hope I made myself clear.

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  • 2
    How will the system know someone is working on an answer? Many times, I will start working on a question on SQL Server or on SQL Fiddle - this happens well before I even formulate an answer on a SE site.
    – Taryn
    Jan 24, 2014 at 15:55
  • @bluefeet but arguably, the typical pattern is that a user has placed the cursor in the "Your Answer" field, and started typing there
    – Pekka
    Jan 24, 2014 at 15:56
  • I think that would require an action. Jan 24, 2014 at 15:57
  • 99.9% of the time you receive answers really, really fast (if there are any).
    – juergen d
    Jan 24, 2014 at 15:58

1 Answer 1

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This has come up before, and would be nice to have. However,

  • it would scare away users and keep them from adding their answer. There is a frequent complaint from new users already, about how intimidating Stack Overflow is because every new question gets an answer immediately. This would further strengthen the effect.

  • users who are on the brink whether they should help the asker out (because it would require research or a test or something) may decide to save themselves the trouble if they see that someone else is already working on an answer.

  • users may cancel composing their answer, giving the asker false hope, while blocking other potential answers as shown above.

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  • That is a good point! Jan 24, 2014 at 16:00
  • What if the information was sent only to the asker? Jan 24, 2014 at 16:04
  • @Daniel not sure what the benefit of that would be. What if an answerer backs out, leaving the asker with the disappointed expectation of an answer? Sounds like more trouble than it would be worth
    – Pekka
    Jan 24, 2014 at 16:06
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    You are right. That would probably benefit (if any) only as very small portion of the community. Now, let see how many reputation I will loose for trying to make a "stupid" contribution. :D Jan 24, 2014 at 16:15
  • @Daniel never mind the points loss - your idea is fine, and people downvote it only because they disagree with it. It's the normal way things go on Meta, everyone active here has some heavily downvoted contributions. (Plus one upvote will offset 2.5 downvotes, so you'll be fine in the long run :)
    – Pekka
    Jan 24, 2014 at 16:21

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