I often write an answer to questions on sites like Earth Science and then inevitably wind up editing it shortly thereafter, realizing I've missed a few things or made typos.

However, it has seemed over the years like there is less interaction when I do make an early edit to my answer. Which makes sense to me... when scanning through the Top Questions activity log,

question displayed as "answered Aug 2 at 19:04"

encourages me there has been something substantial a lot more than:

question displayed as "modified yesterday"

because modified is most often a negligible change: either a very minor typo, or a deleted answer (often spam), or a change in tags, or the Community Bot bringing the question back up, rather than something substantial. If I've read the question before, and I'm not flush with time, I'll often skip such questions due to the generic meaning of that "modified" message.

If we as users don't happen to remember how many answers the question used to have, we can't know on the front page that there's a new answer if the latest news is "modified". So when "answered" gets supplanted to "modified" because of minor revisions, I have the hunch people are more likely to skip revisiting the question, figuring nothing notable has been added. (I also don't find myself often looking to the left-hand side as the X answers box period. I am not sure if that's because the mind tends to read more on the right, or if that's because it's mixed in with the popularity stats unimportant to a user that has already read a question.)

I would think adding more information about the type of activity on the question could help. I had an initial thought that maybe the blank right side of the third line could be a helpful spot:

question displayed as "modified yesterday", then below that, "Last Answered: Today"

Though I see when there are too many tags, the username spills down to that line, so that may not be an option.

But having some way to add that type of information on the page would seem to improve usability without much cost in space/design. In a perfect world a "X new answers since your last visit" would be a golden nugget to help regular users (as well as inconsistent users, if they switch to a filtered queue or look at specific tags) to find the questions with new answers, both recent and older, that they have missed. I always figured that was passed up due to scalability (making each page load calculate/get more details for each user)?

But still work something out if it's a common theme across many pages. It could go as complex as some sort of little scale/timeline graphic on how significant/when the changes have been to a question.

Or a fix might be as simple as giving the "answered" keyword a certain time precedence over minor edits? Or at least perhaps more word options rather than simply "modified" (e.g., "modified tags", "modified answer", "cleaned", "reverted", etc.)?

I don't know what all is feasible with spacing requirements on various devices. But either way, does this seem an issue to others who are heavily active on sites, or something I'm imagining? And if so, do options presented or something similar seem worthwhile ways to better handle the issue?



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