Maybe just small optional DVD-player like chapter-selection icons directly below the vote buttons, something à la

>>, <<, >|, |<

for next, previous, last and first answer.


  • 1
    – TheLQ
    Commented Aug 24, 2010 at 11:24
  • You might have to learn how to grease monkeys to get something like this.
    – Andy E
    Commented Aug 24, 2010 at 12:52
  • @AndyE: Alas, that dreaded day has finally arrived... Commented Aug 24, 2010 at 13:12
  • Well, for one, the screenshot uses JPEG for a screenshot. Does that give any indication of the idea's merit?
    – Hello71
    Commented Aug 25, 2010 at 14:07
  • @Hello71: What the...? I had it as png, the new upload-feature seems to silently convert it. Commented Aug 26, 2010 at 8:12
  • @Tobias, you did not somehow remove the image, did you? Earlier i.imgur.com/zOc0U.jpg gave me an image saying this image does no longer exist, and right now I get no response whatsoever. Maybe it's back by the time you read this; if not then I guess I need to file a bug report as missing images on Imgur would be very bad...
    – Arjan
    Commented Jan 15, 2011 at 14:41
  • @Arjan I used the SE integrated uploading mechanism in the hope then I wouldn't have to worry about availability anymore... I'll reupload it later Commented Jan 16, 2011 at 9:09
  • (@Tobias, let's hope the image will be restored without any action from you: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/75105/is-imgur-losing-images/…)
    – Arjan
    Commented Jan 16, 2011 at 12:17

5 Answers 5


I think it's quite an interesting idea.

For these purposes, I've written a user script (implements this idea).

This script will appear on any question and will produce a box filled with answer links. If no answers, you'll see just "Back to question", which would bring you to the top.


In case if the number of answers is greater than 19, the box is scrollable.

If your window width is too low, the box disappears so as not to be annoying.

Get this script from my server.

Please report any issues there.

  • Going to try this out. Commented Jun 30, 2015 at 14:10
  • 2
    This is perfect. Really easy to use. Thanks. Commented Jun 30, 2015 at 14:22

The engine's usability is not optimized for large (more then say 30) numbers of answers.

We intend to keep it this way.

  • but even three very long answers involve enough manual scroll-seeking Commented Aug 24, 2010 at 11:52
  • how common is that? we design for the general case.
    – waffles
    Commented Aug 24, 2010 at 12:09
  • @wafles♦: depends on the site. I'm thinking of Meta's discussions first, but also answers to e.g. [code-golf] in a language I don't want to read the answer in Commented Aug 24, 2010 at 12:12
  • @Tobias: Vertical scrolling is the easiest, most intuitive, most universal way to handle large amounts of information, as noted in countless usability studies. You haven't even tried to explain why you think your proposed system would be an advantage.
    – Aarobot
    Commented Aug 24, 2010 at 13:29

It is rare that posts become very long with many answers, however it has happened recently. Here is a question that received 94 answers with each answer being very long.

Showcase of Languages

Sometimes I don't have time to read everything, so I'll just read it later. However, it is rather annoying to endlessly scroll to where I left off.

My proposed solution is to add a box (with a list of links to answers) to hop to that specific answer.

This feature should only be shown when the page length and/or answers exceeds a specific number.

quick links

Please excuse my horrible design.


This is a great idea, but the execution doesn't actually help out that much.

Let's consider the use case. Answers are in a ragged array, which means I can't easily (mechanically) "skip one". I need to visually pay attention in order to find the beginning of the next answer. If a very long answer is followed by a short one, I may skip it entirely. Perhaps I want a way to cycle through the answers to find one that I read earlier. These are valid use cases.

So your solution is to put the next/prev controls under the vote button. But do they make sense there?

Visually confusing

You already have an up and down button, why would you want a left and right arrow in order to pan the screen up and down?

Small target

For long questions, I would still have to scroll in order to find the buttons.

Extra navigation options

I would still have to scroll up and down to read long responses, which means that you are adding an additional navigation method but not removing the old. This is confusing.

Moving target

As you scroll the question, the next/prev links will move with it, this is frustrating because you would want your navigation points to be constant. This would imply that the next/prev buttons should be a hovering item. That has a host of it's own problems.

It is an interesting idea, but there are simply too many problems and not enough usefulness to make it worth implementing.

  • +1 for many good points you made. I guess an alternative would be a "switch to one-answer-per-site mode"-button... Any improving suggestion is appreciated, you don't seem against in general but just not like my (admittedly) amateurish implementation suggestion Commented Aug 24, 2010 at 12:04
  • @Tobias, the only problem is that there are two solutions. Put it on the same place per post (your solution) or have it on the same place per screen (floating box) which would be visually distracting and break the site consistency (because it doessn't exist anywhere else). Basically, this would be a create place for a shortcut-key, or a brain-computer-telepathic interface.
    – devinb
    Commented Aug 24, 2010 at 12:13
  • that's why I suggested the static place. But another possibility would be a navigation toolbar - the notification bar is already often enough visible, it could be extended into a one-line navigation + notification bar. I'll try... Commented Aug 24, 2010 at 12:32

I don't get it. Therefore I am saying please don't.

You have a question, below it you have a list of answers. If there is more then a certain amount you have page 1 and page 2 etc. The answers are sorted either based on votes, newest or oldest. You scroll down to read them using your mouse wheel and browser scrollbar.

What would these buttons add, in anyway whatsoever?

  • Some answers are not exactly short, and (especially when catching up, sorting by newest and not by votes) may cause a spontaneous "too long, maybe later when I have more time" thinking. Yet a good answer may be just one line and deserve an upvote. If only I find it between two 25-liners. Commented Aug 24, 2010 at 11:36
  • @Tobias. Seriously? Your still going to have to scroll to the end of the answer to get to the button to click? Why the extra step? Commented Aug 24, 2010 at 11:39
  • @Diago♦: added pic for clarification, I meant the buttons to be directly below (or maybe above?) the vote buttons, so there'd be no manual scrolling to the end involved Commented Aug 24, 2010 at 11:49
  • @Tobias, Diago's comment still stands, just replace "end" with "beginning".
    – devinb
    Commented Aug 24, 2010 at 11:53
  • @devinb: the end of one answer will be one line above the beginning of the next anyway, so one can use that one's navigation. This idea is basically to skip over answers longer than one screen Commented Aug 24, 2010 at 12:01
  • 1
    @Tobias: So you're basically asking for a "tl;dr" feature. I think that's very much against the core philosophy of Stack Overflow, especially if the "long" answer has more votes than the "next" answer. It seems that once again, people are trying to apply discussion forum principles to Q&A sites.
    – Aarobot
    Commented Aug 24, 2010 at 13:31
  • @Aarobot: In my book KISS wins VS tl;dr, if basically the same is stated Commented Aug 24, 2010 at 14:24
  • @Tobias: Then vote accordingly. I think it's very rare to find cases where a quick-and-dirty answer is anywhere near as good as a thorough answer, or where a long answer is upvoted for containing a lot of wordiness and irrelevant information. If you're finding a lot of these, then great, make a statement with your votes, but don't ask for the system to pander to audiences with microsecond attention spans - this is Stack Overflow, not 4chan.
    – Aarobot
    Commented Aug 24, 2010 at 14:37
  • @Aarobot: Agreed. Sorting by votes should indeed prevent this requirement. My basic user case was "catching up" when sorting by newest when there is only time for short answers (at least if voting shall be done responsibly). Especially now with all the betas it's almost impossible to read/vote on everything interesting Commented Aug 24, 2010 at 14:57

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