I've become acutely aware recently that a significant number of users rush to post an answer so that they are top of the list of answers. These answers are often very brief, lack explanation and, by their very nature, have not been thought about for very long.
This behaviour is encouraged by several factors:
- People are more likely to visit newer questions.
- Answers with equal votes are listed chronologically.
- People tend only to read the first couple of answers.
The result of this is that the quicker you can reply then the more traffic your answer sees and the less competition your answer faces. That means your answer picks up initial votes very easily. Once you have a few votes then your answer is right at the top of the list and so is one of the few, if not the only, answers that is read once the questions starts to age.
Someone could spend a great deal of time writing a thoughtful and well-explained answer, only to find that when they post it, it's at the back of a queue of several two or three line "tweets". Despite the fact that the answer is probably of higher quality than those above, due to lack of exposure, the answer sits at the bottom of the line collecting no up-votes.
Moreover, it seems that many OPs will read the replies one-by-one until they find one that answers their question and then accept it. In other words, they don't select the best answer, but they select the first answer. I'm sure you've all found yourself on the receiving end of this quick-draw contest.
I would be interested to hear your thoughts on the matter, and to hear if you have any ideas about how me might move away from encouraging quick-fire replies.