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Fastest Gun in the West Problem

Many people do this: Answer something they know very quickly in a small amount of time. They know they will expand later. But they submit the answer anyway, just to keep other people from answering.

We all know that a question that have 1 answer grabs much less attention than one with 0 answers.

Someone said this is cheating. In my opinion, this is completely legit, unless of course the first answer is so quick that you can't make anything out of it.

So, is this right or wrong?

  • 8
    If the first answer is "so quick that you can't make anything out of it", people will downvote it. People won't do that, because then submitting the answer too early in a hope to gain upvotes has backfired. This problem solves itself. The asker gets a quick answer, the answerer gets some rep. Everyone is happy. Commented May 11, 2011 at 6:27
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    I see nothing wrong with it, i've done it before myself, usually to add some code or substantial detail that can take a while to write and get right.
    – slugster
    Commented May 11, 2011 at 7:15

1 Answer 1


It's the "Fastest Gun in the West" problem and is considered fair here, as long as you use the 5 minute edit window wisely and make your answer very good ;)

see: Fastest Gun in the West Problem

I deliberately left this quick answer short for a while, just for the irony, (sorry! ;)) now I'll try to answer some more of your question - though technically this may be closed as a duplicate I suppose!

The 5 min window can also be used wisely, in my opinion it doesn't put people off from answering but instead encourages them to improve their own answers or add to/expand on the first one so the question asker in fact gets the best of both worlds, so IMHO it is also "legit" or "right"

As long as the OP (or others for that matter) are not too quick off the mark with edits, downvotes or disparaging comments it can work very well in the question askers favour.

Where it falls down, though this doesn't happen often and is "editable" around, is when the question is edited, making the answer look a bit out of context, in which case further edits are needed, if the "fastest gun" is then completely wrong they will usually delete or keep editing until all Question edits are covered - note if this happens to me I don't delete content from my answer (which would be visible in revisions anyway) I give updates explaining the "change" in thought process it helps others who don't know to look at the revisions that there was some work went into getting to the best answer for Question Asker - unfortunately some don't get it and think that the "right" answer even if it's a complete change from their original "Fast" answer should get the votes/tick

Fastest Gun answers depending on who they're from should indicate to the questions askers that someone has committed to answering their question and encourage them to "engage", via comments, if they want the best answer they can can get

So the Fastest Gun answers requires a bit of maintenance too.. hardly cheating, just a different form of "responsibility" from constructing a longer, well thought out/formatted answer immediately.. though there are definitely times when the latter is the better option!

  • nice claire.. i tried searching for this topic but didn't found
    – ariel
    Commented May 11, 2011 at 7:07
  • The real lesson to take from this question is not to accept an answer too quickly! Give the fast guns a chance to update as desired, and others who use different strategies to submit their answers a little more slowly. Commented May 11, 2011 at 7:34

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