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Until yesterday, when looking at a question on SO, the answer area looked like this:

enter image description here

But today I was mildly confused that now there is a button instead which prevents me from directly answering the question:

enter image description here

I have answered a few questions already and cannot remember having to click on that button when answering.

What am I missing? Can I revert to automatically expanding the answer area?

P.S. When I look at questions on meta I do not encounter this problem - here, the "Answer this question" button does not appear.

I am not sure whether this should really be a feature-request. Please leave a comment or edit the question if it is.

EDIT To those concerned about reproducibility, the following screenshot contributed by @Ɍ.Ɉ:

enter image description here

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    Confirmed. I don't like this change. – John Dvorak Feb 5 '14 at 10:34
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    I'm hating this click on answer this question action on every question I wish to answer. Please revert this back, Dev Team @ SO. – SudoRahul Feb 5 '14 at 10:39
  • I'm guessing the change was made to save on screen space, or to require some interaction before exposing a form element. I agree though; that was disconcerting to see. I wonder if it has to do with reputation, and a zero was missed (5000 instead of 500) – Chris Forrence Feb 5 '14 at 10:39
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    @FrédéricHamidi my best guess is it's an A/B test. Devs, we want the Before version!!! – John Dvorak Feb 5 '14 at 10:48
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    Given that there's nothing wildly useful below the answer box (sorry bottom bar) this isn't really giving useful space for anything else; so it seems like a waste of time – Richard Tingle Feb 5 '14 at 11:13
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    This is currently an a/b test which should finish soon (later today) - the full form will be back. – Oded Feb 5 '14 at 13:34
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    @Oded: I'll wait until it goes away before answering more questions then. – user147520 Feb 5 '14 at 13:37
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    This is a bad idea and the people behind it should feel bad :-( – Rob Moir Feb 5 '14 at 13:49
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    @RobM - What? Testing the community response? – Oded Feb 5 '14 at 13:54
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    @Oded yes: I don't need to phone a friend to know that sticking a finger in an electrical socket is a bad idea and I don't need to survey users to know that making a website more difficult to use is a bad idea either. The sites exist to gather questions and answers and making it more difficult for people to do that is therefore a poor idea in the same way that making people watch a little flash movie intro before they use your website is a bad idea. – Rob Moir Feb 5 '14 at 13:58
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    @RobM - we knew there would be an impact. What we didn't know was what magnitude. We are now better informed. – Oded Feb 5 '14 at 13:59
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    @MathiasMüller My first thought was to make it more clear that "Answers" are supposed to actually answer the question (Note: many non-native English loosely translate "Answer" to "Respond", like a forum... ie, whatever thought pops into people heads - no matter how mindbogglingly thoughtless - gets posted. I know I cleanup a dozen such flags a day (possibly more). I really like this concept for extremely low rep users, but not so much for anyone over ~20 rep. – Chris S Feb 5 '14 at 14:49
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    @Oded personally, I don't hate the change. I don't particularly like it, but it seems like the idea is designed to help prevent people from "accidentally" commenting in answers, so if it helps keeps the site clean, I think I can live with it. – psubsee2003 Feb 5 '14 at 15:31
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    @psubsee2003 Are non-answers or bad answers that big of a problem? I don't see it that often. Brain-dead questions on the other hand... – Tanner Faulkner Feb 5 '14 at 15:51
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    Some sites get a lot of comments, forum-style opinions, and other noise in the "answer" space, and I suspect it's because users see a nice big textbox ready-made to type into. So I can understand forcing an action first, to click on "answer" or "add comment", to break that cycle. Yes as an experienced user I find it a little disconcerting (my cheese!), but I assume I would get used to it in a day or two. But the only way to see the effects of the change is to test it. – Monica Cellio Feb 5 '14 at 16:51
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This is indeed a test.

/edit I've stopped the experiment. Interestingly, registered users apparently hated it and were boycotting answers, but anonymous users shrugged it off

enter image description here

The purpose of testing was to get a baseline for some other feature ideas that we want to try out.

An example idea was to include some horizontal discovery here in addition to the ability to answer the question.

Anyway, there's no plan to go with this design as is, and the experiment will probably be turned off today.

  • I actually wonder if part of the reason for the initial negative response was from the time of day; it had been three hours between the question posting and the first official response, so that invited confusion. – Chris Forrence Feb 5 '14 at 17:05
  • Can you give an example of the "horizontal discovery"? – j08691 Feb 5 '14 at 19:28
  • We don't really have anything mocked up. – Jeremy T Feb 5 '14 at 19:42
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    @j08691 Two possible examples: Related Questions, or an "Ask a Question" prompt. Both of those are reasonable places you might want to go if you just landed from Google and didn't find what you were looking for (whereas answering this question is probably not something you're equipped to do if you just Googled for it) – David Fullerton Feb 5 '14 at 19:53
  • I liked it >.< .. – Lightness Races with Monica Feb 12 '14 at 15:50

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