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This is a discussion point and even when I have a proposal, I make this question with the primary reason of comparing alternatives and understanding why the current reality is regarding SE sites. I searched a bit regarding this topic and couldn't find them in previous questions but I think it should exist somewhere; perhaps someone asked the same before. Please don't hesitate on DUPing this question if it is the case

Today I was reading something at philosophy site where they discussed about being an upvoted answer objectively true.

Even when I can imagine it's not about being true but useful (which worked for StackOverflow in first place), something triggered an up-to-now asleep concern I had: Most of the times, voting produces positioning, and positioning produces voting, despite other answers being as useful as the first, if you take the time to read. I would like to say there are some similarities with an unstable equilibrium.

Should we really keep that feedback between position and upvotes for questions? How was this topic discussed before?

Actually, one can sort the questions in the main question list to be chronological or hot, but I see answers are only sorted by hot.

(foot note: my proposal is to, by default, randomize (or sort chronologically by last edit date) to the top all the answers with a net votes amount > 0, and with a button, link, or option let the user sort them by net amount, letting them to have the answers sorted as is now)

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    Answers can be sorted by Active, Oldest and Votes. And whatever you choose will be your default for other questions you view. But yes, by default they are sorted by Votes. – JonW Dec 4 '15 at 23:39
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    This is a part of the Fastest Gun in the West problem; you can explore the conversations on that in the [fastest-gun] tag. – doppelgreener Dec 5 '15 at 3:54
  • @doppelgreener That's why I will sometimes downvote placeholder/barely started answers by fast guns. – PolyGeo Dec 5 '15 at 4:32
  • @PolyGeo if they're placeholder answers or barely started, they sound like poor quality answers whatever position or timing they took. I'd vote those down anyway, since I vote based on the present condition of a post rather than its potential condition (I can reverse my vote later after all if I care, and the post will earn itself an upvote when it reaches good condition) – doppelgreener Dec 5 '15 at 4:48
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When I am looking for an answer, I want to see the one that the community currently adjudges to be the best placed first, because I may not have time to look at all answers.

Usually I will also look at the next few but, unless still stuck, it is unlikely I will reach the bottom of more than about five answers.

I think it will do our visitors a disservice to have them sometimes/often overlook what the community has judged to be the best answer (based on those that they have read).

Reading only the first few answers is not the same as giving them additional upvotes. They may even get downvotes as a result of being read. There will always be donkey voters but the major downside of randomizing answer order for Stack Exchange sites would be a loss of respect for many of the answers shown first to visitors. It is the quality of our questions, and especially of our answers, that keeps people visiting and becoming users of our site.

We should not forget that there is currently one way that the poster of a new answer can use its position to a voting advantage. That is by writing an answer which is so good that the asker moves their Accept checkmark onto it and potentially sticks it to the top forever.

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    I think OP is saying that by sorting by Votes then this is also doing the visitors a disservice - because it encourages the top answers to get more votes than the lower ones. Top answers are often only there because they are older. That doesn't mean better answers don't come in later, but they get less votes - even your answer suggests this pattern is true "it's unlikely I will reach the bottom of more than five answers". – JonW Dec 4 '15 at 23:42
  • @JonW Reading only the first few answers is not the same as giving them additional upvotes. They may even get downvotes as a result of being read. There will always be donkey voters but the downside of randomizing for SE would be loss of respect for many of the answers shown first to visitors. – PolyGeo Dec 4 '15 at 23:51

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