Here and at many Stack Exchange sites, there's a tendency for the chronologically first answer to receive the most votes. Once an answer has acquired a lead, it almost always retains that lead. I suspect this happens for the following reasons:

  1. Users rely on the wisdom of crowds. If the first answer has 10 votes and the second has 2, it means more people liked the first, which, all things being equal, suggests that it's better (but it may be that it merely hasn't received as much attention).
  2. Users seem to rarely return to a question twice. New answers to existing questions do not receive much attention because the user already saw that question yesterday and is unlikely to revisit it.
  3. It appears that users often upvote the current top answer and ignore the rest, even if those are also good or correct answers.

Once an answer has acquired a sufficient lead, it rarely loses that lead, and newer answers receive fewer votes than their quality suggests, or no votes at all. This encourages users to lurk and answer quickly, and penalizes users who visit infrequently or take longer to write better answers.

Is this something we can or should fix?


1 Answer 1


It's a feature, not a bug

Fastest Gun in the West has been accepted as a feature of SE for quite some years, and is not likely to change despite some suggestions to require a dwell time or cooling off period with votes initially hidden so that it isn't as pronounced.

  • You will note the dates of those answers as being in 2008. This feature of the voting/rep system was seen early on for what it was and what it did, and retained.

The overarching consensus in SE so far, which was driven quite a bit by SO's needs as this model was forming, is that this isn't a problem that needs solving.

  • \$\begingroup\$ How do we know that the overarching consensus is still that this isn't a problem that needs solving? \$\endgroup\$
    – Ruse
    Jul 15, 2018 at 22:50
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Ruse The links provide sufficient explanation IMO. If you feel that it needs to change, by all means bring it up on SE Meta; there's a lot of churn there at the moment, including a lot of "does it have to be this way because it's always been that way?" kind of discussion. Personally, I like the idea of the "cooling off period" but I am not sure how much traction that idea has. \$\endgroup\$ Jul 16, 2018 at 12:31
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Ruse One of the problems with "don't show the votes right away" is that bad answers will float about without attracting the kind of downvote attention that they need to attract. A bit more important on the "professional stacks" like SO, perhaps. \$\endgroup\$ Jul 16, 2018 at 12:33

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