I usually answer questions on SO and pretty familiar with its culture. Today I answered a question on a non-technical site. When I was creating my answer I got a pop-up that stated that there were such and such number of already posted answers and wanted me to confirm that I really wanted to add yet another one.

That episode prompted my inquiry. My understanding of SE model was first to attract multitude of answers (i.e. posts that truly aim to answer the question) and then let OP and community at large to decide what's helpful and what's not by voting on them. There's also a chance that different people could post very similar or even identical answers. I such cases I believe that the time of posting could be taken into consideration (i.e. we can see who provided this particular type of an answer first).

So, how does the attempt to limit the number of posted answers benefit the site that implements such functionality?


To avoid confusion and/or misrepresentation I'm posting the actual pup-up below.

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    I've never encountered such a popup before. The only one I'm aware of is the one asking you if you're sure you want to add a second answer to the same question (as in, you've already posted one there before). How many answers did it have? – animuson ModStaff Jan 27 '15 at 0:13
  • @animuson - It had about 4 or so. It was also hot. Not sure if it made any difference. – PM 77-1 Jan 27 '15 at 0:16
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    From what I've seen on SO, the vast majority of "late answers" on popular/well-answered questions are either duplicates or non-answers. Rarely have I ever seen one that is actually of quality worth keeping. – Mysticial Jan 27 '15 at 0:18
  • @Mysticial - It was not on SO, it was on a non-technical site. – PM 77-1 Jan 27 '15 at 0:20
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    It would be nice to know what the question was, so the issue could be reproduced. – user259867 Jan 27 '15 at 0:22
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    @PM77-1 I'm only active on one non-technical site. And it's no different. Late answers are rarely ever worth keeping. – Mysticial Jan 27 '15 at 0:24
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    I guess the following is the question, I get a popup as well saying it already has more than 2 answers: workplace.stackexchange.com/questions/40770/… – PeterJ Jan 27 '15 at 1:06
  • @PeterJ - Yep. That's the one. – PM 77-1 Jan 27 '15 at 1:16
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    Reproduced. Maybe a bug? – Doorknob Jan 27 '15 at 2:14
  • @Doorknob - Well... Either that or a feature... – PM 77-1 Jan 27 '15 at 2:29

You ran into a custom setting for Workplace only: the message you saw is shown there on all questions with >2 answers, compared to >30 on other SE sites.

This change was in fact unintentional: their goal was to collapse comments on questions with >2 answers, but the setting turned out to be tied to the warning "are you sure you want to answer"? I'd say it's a featurebug. See Comments without upvotes are now hidden if a question has more than two answers

  • So it's going back at least to 2011? – PM 77-1 Jan 27 '15 at 2:48
  • No, to August 26 of 2014, the date of Jon Ericson's post. – user259867 Jan 27 '15 at 2:49
  • Yep. Just noticed that. – PM 77-1 Jan 27 '15 at 2:49
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    Workplace mod here. Yes, this is an unintended consequence of a change we did want, as you noted, and we would still really like to see the collapse-comments threshold be separated from the too-many-answers threshold. – Monica Cellio Jan 27 '15 at 3:06

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