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When starting typing an answer, could we get an inform that “the following people are already answering this question”

When I'm answering a recently posted question, I typically "feel the pressure" and try to answer quickly because I imagine a horde of ravenous users hunting for the first answer position :).

Is it possible to add a notifier that display the number of users that are currently answering a question?

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    You get the "new answers posted" message - isn't this enough?
    – ChrisF Mod
    Commented Apr 7, 2010 at 13:33
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    @ChrisF - I typically get that when I've completed 50% or more of my answer. I see @systempuntoout's point: If I knew three people were already working on answers, I wouldn't even bother starting one. Commented Apr 7, 2010 at 13:42
  • @balpha you are right.Sorry for that. Commented Apr 7, 2010 at 14:14
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    no need to be sorry -- contrary to poular belief, posting a dupe isn't anything bad per se
    – balpha StaffMod
    Commented Apr 7, 2010 at 14:15

3 Answers 3


At first I liked your idea -- because as I just commented, this has happened to me. I will be more than halfway through composing an answer just to see the alert that one or more answers have already been posted. So I feel your pain.

However it occurred to me while commenting that this isn't a perfect idea. I think that letting you know others are composing answers when you start to compose your own answer would discourage you from continuing. And I think that would reduce the overall quality of answers.

I think a better mechanism would be one which encourages better answers, rather than faster answers.

  • Actually i love the pressure i feel when i'm answering and personally i would not consider this feature a deterrent to answer but i get your point. Commented Apr 7, 2010 at 14:10

There's no "first answer position" - since answers are sorted first by vote and then randomly (rather than in order of posting).

Posting an answer 3 seconds before someone else will make virtually no difference to the way people vote (unless some people check the timestamps and only vote for the earlier answer, the effect of which I imagine would be minimal).

In other words - this isn't needed. Post the best answer you can - if you notice someone else has posted an answer which you have nothing to add to (via the "New answers posted" banner), then stop writing your answer. Otherwise - keep going - how would knowing 73 other people are trying make a difference?

  • Do you agree with me that if you post for first you would have more chances that your answer will stay on top?I know i could answer one minute later, copying the first answer, scrambling some words and adding a link; but i know also that people will tend to ignore my answer. First answer position counts, imho. Anyway, a counter, for me, will increase the pathos for the "game" part of stackoverflow; the part personally i like very much. Commented Apr 7, 2010 at 14:26
  • I would correct my first sentence in .."Do you agree with me that, for question that ask for quick snippet, if you post for first you would have more chances that your answer will stay on top?I" Commented Apr 7, 2010 at 14:47
  • @sys - Only fractionally, and only if your answer is better than or equivalent to other answers which are submitted relatively close in time to yours. Commented Apr 7, 2010 at 14:58

I'd have to agree with Josh - just because someone else has already submitted an answer does not mean that you should not continue with yours.

Being the first to answer is one thing, but having the best answer is another altogether.

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