On Stack Exchange sites I have always felt answering in the right time can result in a good score. The first few answers always get some advantage. If the scores are hidden for some specific time (maybe 6-12 hours) and all the answers are shown randomly, then I think the process will be more unbiased.

Considering what Gamecat has told, the score may be kept visible only for the respective answerers. May be for the questioner also.

  • 1
    Answers on the same score are already shown randomly when sorted by votes.
    – ChrisF Mod
    Commented Oct 28, 2010 at 10:25
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    +1, but I would lower the time considerably. On SO at least. It might need to be different from site to site, based on how much traffic it has. Commented Mar 8, 2012 at 22:50
  • Do not overestimate score and rep, as long as it is positive. Good answers doesn't recieve downvotes. And be yourself more voting, read the latter answers etc. According to the statistics on Programmers, you voted 330 times in more than 2 years, and you've earned 3800 rep, which is equivalent to much more than that.
    – yo'
    Commented Mar 2, 2013 at 18:35

3 Answers 3


This has been discussed several times before. And I think it's not going to work.

The problem is, people like to know how they are doing. So they frequently get back to see the number of up (or down) votes on their answer. They edit the answer if things were not clear and if other answers provide new views on the subject.

The fact is that the earliest answers have the biggest chance to get the most upvotes. So some people give a short answer first and elaborate on this later. And this is not wrong, in the end we like to have a site with high quality answers and questions.

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    Then may be the score can be kept visible only for the respective answerers. May be for the questioner also.
    – Gulshan
    Commented Oct 28, 2010 at 10:49
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    @Gulshan - I like your specification of the feature. Also, I wouldn't make the scores hidden to the general public for 6-12 hours, but just for 5 to 10 minutes. Commented Oct 28, 2010 at 12:40
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    @Daniel Daranas The duration may be a subject to decide later.
    – Gulshan
    Commented Oct 28, 2010 at 17:07

This idea is not as outrageous as it sounds. Sometimes I do get the vibe both that upvotes are a question of timing and that "rich get richer", sometimes independent of answer quality.

For example, a slight variation of the OP's suggestion is the standard procedure to review a scientific paper. You (and 2-4 other reviewers) get the paper (question) and are asked to write a review (an answer). Then the editors (or area chairs) collect all reviews and make a decision. You don't know the rep or who wrote the paper (question) and you do not know the rep or who the other reviewers (answerers) are. The reviewers are not allowed to work together, and do not get instant feed back on the factual accuracy of their review.

The system seems to be working reasonably well for science.

I do think that a timeout period, to "cool off" the popularity contest and during which you're forced to vote only evaluating the merits of the question and answer could be very helpful.

EDIT: This is one example after looking through one tag, for yesterday's activity:

Concatenating two strings iteratively in C++

In this case, I consider both answers at least equally good, and if pressed, I'd say the answer that came in second, is better, more thorough. BTW, as this will change during the discussion, when I linked it the first answer has 5 upvotes and the second 3 and the OP chose the first answer as correct.

  • If answers are part of a "popularity contest", then there is more than likely a problem with the question. We're looking for correct answers, not the most popular. With that said, I've also seen the opposite happen; I've seen a well-written and well-detailed answer start to accrue more upvotes than the original answer. If you can, if at all possible, edit your answer and make it better than all of the others. That's how you compete and win against the fastest gun in the west. ;)
    – jmort253
    Commented Aug 11, 2012 at 20:28
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    @jmort253: I've seen that too, but I have to say that tends to happen in extreme cases where the first and highest voted answer is a two sentence, minimally explained solution and the up and comer is a wonderfully written piece, thorough and well thought out. When the difference in quality is not as extreme, what happens is rich get richer, popular for being popular.
    – carlosdc
    Commented Aug 11, 2012 at 20:47
  • Can you provide some examples for context? Without seeing examples, I can't say how legit your concern really is. I've only seen this problem on questions that really don't have a place here. If you can demonstrate a need, you'll be able to make a much stronger case for your position.
    – jmort253
    Commented Aug 11, 2012 at 20:54
  • @jmort253: I've added one example.
    – carlosdc
    Commented Aug 11, 2012 at 21:14
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    Seems like the majority of the answers all say the same thing. I've seen this on the JavaScript tag where I have more experience, and what I've done is edited my answer to add more detail and clarity. In other words, I ask myself, if someone else landed on this page who was a little less experienced than the asker, what could I put in my answer to add more clarity and differentiate it. For instance, not knowing as much about C++, I'd upvote the answer that explained the problem to me in greater detail, with clearer examples, and links to resources that also help clarify. Hope this helps! :)
    – jmort253
    Commented Aug 11, 2012 at 21:19
  • Note how only one of those 6 answers has any edits...
    – jmort253
    Commented Aug 11, 2012 at 21:21

I believe I have seen exactly what the OP is talking about. A question is asked that has a "quick but incomplete" answer, or a "slow answer that includes an explanation". Two people start answering - one writes the fast answer, the other the slower one. A third person comes along just after the first answer is posted - thinks "hey, that's kinda what I would have said", and upvotes the answer as helpful. By the time the second answer appears, the first has two upvotes. A short while later the second answer appears, the first answerer decided to elaborate based on the other answer; in the end the two answers become "interchangeable" but the OP accepts the "first" answer in an attempt to be fair.

A system in which no voting is possible for the first 10 minutes would encourage everyone to "give a good answer first time", rather than rewarding a "get there first then edit" approach.

  • 12
    A system in which no voting is possible for the first 10 minutes would probably mean a hell of a lot less voting, which isn't good.
    – user159834
    Commented Feb 28, 2013 at 15:45

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