I'm going to piggy back off Make first draft of a new answer part of the permanent revision history but suggest that instead of having first drafts included in revision history, just change to a 5 minute demilitarized zone.

The way this would work is that any answers that have been submitted within 5 minutes of the question being asked can be answered, but won't be visible until that 5 minute period has expired. At this point, any submitted answers will be displayed and future changes become permanent revisions.

This will allow users the time to properly form their answer instead of competing for first answers. In addition, users will no longer be able to piggy back off other answers encouraging that each user form their own unique answer. Lastly, answers will be able to more fairly evaluated by the community.

The process would look something like:

  1. User submits question
  2. Community can begin submitting answers
  3. 5 minutes after the user has submitted their question, any answers will be displayed and any future changes to these answers will be part of the revision history of the answer
  • 12
    So we want 50 answers, all the same, per question, do we? Apr 29, 2014 at 17:20
  • @MartijnPieters There can be an indicator of how many answers are pending in queue.
    – Kermit
    Apr 29, 2014 at 17:20
  • 8
    So I'd have to wait to see if those 50 answers are all going to be wrong? I do moderate if or how I answer based on other answers. Do they miss something crucial, are they plain wrong? Or are they spot on, or have minor flaw and a simple comment will work just fine. I'd really not want to lose that ability to collaborate either. Apr 29, 2014 at 17:23
  • 1
    @MartijnPieters I think that's part of the problem. If you're moderating your own answer based on other answers, then your answer probably isn't complete.
    – Kermit
    Apr 29, 2014 at 17:27
  • @MartijnPieters I'd also like to see a question that has received 50 answers in the first 5 minutes.
    – Kermit
    Apr 29, 2014 at 17:27
  • 2
    I think you misunderstand how I moderate my answering. I do make sure my answers are complete; I am avoiding redundancy however. No point in answering if a good answer is already there. If someone is incomplete, I get to post a better answer, perhaps. Apr 29, 2014 at 17:29
  • 2
    There are questions where experienced users (and less experience) in the language know the answer and will hack out an answer quickly, only to find someone has already beaten them to it. I see 'gah, you are too fast' comment on my own answers quite regularly. Now imagine that no one could see the other answers coming in, and you'll get 50 answers on a post because no one realises there are already are suitable answers there. Apr 29, 2014 at 17:32
  • @MartijnPieters The other issue is that users that aren't as fast as you are at a disadvantage when it comes to building reputation or learning.
    – Kermit
    Apr 29, 2014 at 17:34
  • 3
    So you rather have the experts stand aside and let new people answer the questions, because the experts are too fast at answering? That's a terrible idea. Stack Overflow is not here to help people learn by answering, not really. The goal is to produce great answers to good questions, instead. Let's not go chase away the experts because some people think gaining rep is the goal. Apr 29, 2014 at 17:37
  • @MartijnPieters I wholeheartedly disagree with you. If you're not giving someone the opportunity to learn, then what's the point of the site?
    – Kermit
    Apr 29, 2014 at 17:38
  • 2
    I invite you to read Can we implement a dead time on answers for high reputation user; I am not going to repeat the answer there here. Apr 29, 2014 at 17:41
  • 7
    @Kermit The point of the site is to create a repository of knowledge that can be beneficial to the programming community as a whole through the use of web searches. Benefits to the actual members of the site in the form of people having their questions answered directly by others, people learning from the process of answering, etc. are adventurous size effects, not the site's mission.
    – Servy
    Apr 29, 2014 at 19:01

1 Answer 1


Growing up, a good portion of my summer (and spring, and fall...) was spent helping out in my family's rather large garden.

Most of this involved rather tedious, repetitive labor. So to stave off boredom, we made up games to go along with it. "Fastest to finish hoeing a row of corn", "Most peas shelled in a minute", etc.

It helped. We got a lot more done, faster, and with less complaining because of it.

But... The games weren't really the goal, and no one ever thought otherwise: the point was the creation and preparation of food for the next year. If you "won" by chopping down all the corn or throwing out the unshelled peas, no one would think highly of you for doing so.

Too many people look at games - or especially "gamification" - as a silver bullet that will turn the efforts of lazy and unproductive players into gold... This is exceedingly naive. Any game played in bad faith will have disappointing results, whether the mechanics of that game involves throwing a ball around or answering programming questions.

Martijn wrote a great answer to a related question:

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.

(emphasis mine)

There will always be someone faster than you, someone smarter than you, someone more erudite than you. If your reaction to this is to demand that the playing field be leveled, you'll always be unhappy: for every handicap you add, someone will find a way to negate it via a talent they possess and you do not. The only winning move is not to play, so stop obsessing over your score in the game, and try to remember why it is being played at all.

  • This explains... a lot.
    – Aaron Bertrand Staff
    Apr 29, 2014 at 19:39
  • 5
    obligatory ... "cool story, bro." :)
    – swasheck
    Apr 29, 2014 at 19:41
  • 2
    holy crap. the comment edit screen is HUGE!!!
    – swasheck
    Apr 29, 2014 at 19:42

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