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This SO question:

Is this "elision failure" language-mandated?

currently has one answer (by @NicolBolas). But above that answer and to the right I see a selection box with three buttons: "Active", "Oldest", "Votes" - used to order answers when there are too many of them to fit on some fixed page length limit. Surely, that shouldn't happen for a single answer?

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    shrug. And when the next answer gets in, you want to reload that part of the question so it's added now? This is adding complexity for no real gain. Sure, it would be neat. But only in a very superficial way. – Mast Mar 23 at 17:04
  • @Mast: For the next answer to get in, the page content must change. If it changes, it can get a new control. – einpoklum Mar 23 at 17:23
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    I opened this question and it has a single answer. I can see the sorting buttons. I also see that I'm sorting by "oldest" - I do not want that, I want to see posts sorted by votes. So, I've changed it. It doesn't matter that there is a single answer here - this controls the sorting everywhere on the site. So, the next question I visit will have answers sorted the way I expect them to. – VLAZ Mar 24 at 6:12
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This is not a bug, as far as I know, it's the intended behaviour. Putting aside the programming complexity (low or high), I think UX-wise, it's the kind of control which serves its purpose better when it's always displayed, rather than sometimes hidden.

If the control is always here, its use is pretty clear, and even if irrelevant for just one answer, at least tells you you could order the results if there were several answers.

If it's hidden for 1 answer, then shown when there are several, then it's disturbing (furthermore with this current bug on sorting controls display). Be sure a good chunk of "bug reports" will come in, reporting the controls are "missing" when their presence is not expected to start with.

Plus, as VLAZ mentions in a comment, the control is applied site-wide, all the more reason to display it consistently.

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  • "the control is applied site-wide, all the more reason to display it consistently." there is an argument to be made about moving this into a separate option but...if it removes it from the page and thus easy view, then the option may as well not exist. I don't want to go to a settings page to change how I view answers - that should be doable from where the answers are. Which leaves us with having the sorting option visible everywhere. Which is currently the case. – VLAZ Mar 24 at 14:15
  • I suppose there is another argument that can be made. The sorting seen here in this question is applicable only to the current set of answers and everywhere else uses a different default sort. I'm in favour of that. I occasionally want to see answers by oldest or by active but that's usually restricted to only some questions, I want to sort by votes otherwise. Still, it's an entirely new feature request and I don't really feel strongly enough about this to make it. – VLAZ Mar 24 at 14:18

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