EDIT: This is not the "fastest gun in the west problem". Answer speed is secondary to the overall issue. I notice I did say "quickly" multiple times, which I have since removed. All of the points still stand even if someone answers days after the question is posted.

I have noticed there seem to be some users that respond to non-technical questions, with extremely broad and somewhat antagonistic answers.

They seem to work off the assumption that the OP hasn't put any effort into solving their problem, and that the answer is both obvious, and easy to implement.

Some general cases:

  • For example, if the question involves someone that wants something (probably half the questions on interpersonal.stackexchange.com), their answer is to just give the person what they want. The answer implies the OP hasn't thought of that, and as if the rationale the OP has for their conflict isn't even worth addressing.

  • If the question involves some sort of programming interpersonal communication question, their response is to "just communicate and they'll understand", as if the OP hasn't attempted communication, and the topic is so simple enough that it is easily explained.

  • If the question goes into detail about some process the OP is doing, the answer is that their process is wrong and they should use another process.

  • If the question is asking if some solution is acceptable, the answer is always 'no', with some handwaving about further research the OP can do.

The issue with all of this, is it seems to contribute to the perennial debate over the 'unfriendliness of Stack Exchange' sites. If the first thing a user hears is "no, you're wrong", even if that answer gets no upvotes, it's going to seem as impactful as 10 other good answers, at least to some people.

I don't really have any ideas about how to fix this. I don't necessarily think some kind of answer delay would work, but I haven't really seen much discussion about these specific type of populist answers.

I don't even think these people are rep-farming. They seem to accumulate it, but some of their answers seem to be so general, with no upvotes, that they can't be designed to gather rep.

Additional information

I can post plenty of examples of extremely vague, early answers, that never got any upvotes. But I feel like anyone that's asked enough questions on the non-technical Stack Exchange sites will already know what I'm talking about. I also don't really want to target any specific users.

I love the people that answer questions, and I've certainly learned a lot on the various Stack Exchange sites, so I hope this doesn't feel like a personal attack on frequent answerers. That being said, just to head it off at the pass, I'm sure there will be plenty of users linking to any other 'answer quality' questions, saying how this is a duplicate. I've done my research, and I don't think this specific angle has been addressed, so if all you have to say is 'duplicate', this question might be about you :) .


1 Answer 1


You can't prevent it, but there are tools in place to handle such things after they're done.

Those tools are:

  • Downvotes. If you think an answer is not good, does not fully answer the question, or otherwise just wrong, just downvote it. This will send signal to others, and many people would prefer to delete their answer when it has negative score.
  • Flags. This is case-by-case and you should cast the proper flag.
    • If the answer does not answer the question at all, flag as "not an answer"
    • If the answer does attempt to actually answer the question, but in a snarky way or any way that might offend the asker, or other people, choose "in need of moderator intervention" and explain what makes it offend other people.
  • 5
    Yep. For OP's specific example of IPS, that site has a policy of respecting the premise of a question and also citation expectations, the types of answers mentioned in the question can very often be flagged as 'not an answer' as they're just opinions, not answers.
    – Tinkeringbell Mod
    Jul 14 at 6:39
  • Downvotes and flags are tools, but that does not mean they are sufficient, or resolving the issue. I think it's best to consider that while you might believe the tools are sufficient, you are significantly biased by the community you surround yourself with. There are many people who will never post on stackexchange sites, and the reason isn't lack of questions.
    – yeerk
    Jul 15 at 2:15
  • @yeerk I never said it's sufficient, or resolving the issue. But that's what we have, it's working to some extent, and I can't see any way to improve them in the near future. And the people who will never post, will never post indeed unless e.g. there're no more downvotes at all, but then they won't have where to post, Stack Exchange will vanish. Jul 15 at 6:37

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