# Would it make sense to hide answers from the OP?

This may seem strange at first, but I have seen a lot of "good" questions (as in, interesting and fun to solve), which I do enjoy taking a shot at; but for which the OP, typically a new user, has shown absolutely no previous work or effort, contradicting the purpose of the site.

Would it make sense to implement an option "Hide from the OP until [...]" for answers, which would behave as follows (modulo some changes and tweaking, I gather):

• people with enough reputation can see it (i.e., a threshold $\tau$, not too high);
• the question reveals itself after some time (e.g., one day or two)
• the OP is notified there is an answer, with a comment explaining that (s)he cannot see it until his/her question meets the guidelines of the site or enough time has passed;
• any moderator or the author can decide to reveal the question at any time.

Besides the motivation above, one other reason would be for "suspicious" questions, seemingly coming for a current exam or contest: while it'd be better not to give an answer too quickly (for obvious reasons), having such answers may prove very useful in the future, for studying or practicing.

Again, I'm not entirely sure it is implementable easily, nor that it fully aligns with the spirit of Math.SE; let me know what you think.

• If you don't want the OP to see your answer, why not just refrain from posting it? – user642796 Jun 6 '15 at 4:47
• I misunderstood the question title. I thought it was about when an OP answers his own question. – Robert Soupe Jun 6 '15 at 16:31
• @ArthurFischer For the sake of "dissemination"; i.e., making answers available to the community, not only the OP. Someone might benefit from an answer to a question in two months, which cannot happen if the answer is never posted. – Clement C. Jun 6 '15 at 17:18
• Why is it so important that people with "enough reputation" see your answer? (And aren't people with "low reputation" also members of the community? Or do you mean something different by "community"?) – user642796 Jun 6 '15 at 18:17
• See below, the comments after quid's answer -- by enough reputation, I basically only aimed at sieving the anonymous viewers (or maybe also the newly registered with no activity) (as the OP otherwise can see the answer by logging out). – Clement C. Jun 6 '15 at 18:50
• Another (race-condition like) way to withhold from anyone < 10k rep is to self-delete the answer immediately after posting it, then telling the OP that you want to see more work of him before you give your answer. I don't recommend doing this systematically (or even at all), but it is somewhat similar in effect to your feature request. – AlexR Jun 7 '15 at 13:24
• I honestly like this idea. Sadly, the devil's in the details... – Zach466920 Jun 27 '15 at 20:54

You talk about something contradicting the purpose of the site, it might makes sense to explain what the purpose of this site is in your opinion.

In my opinion it is to provide and to disseminate good answers to reasonable questions. Your proposal goes counter this in several ways, which is why I oppose it.

• I see the site having mostly two goals: the first one is to provide help to anyone desiring to learn mathematics (in opposition to just getting answers); the second to form a knowledge base for good and interesting mathematical questions (I assume this matches your interpretation). I believe my suggestion is consistent with both directions; but I do not claim this personal view of Math.SE is universal nor the right one, hence the question. (I.e., which goals of Math.SE, that I failed to list or see, would be violated by this suggestion?) – Clement C. Jun 5 '15 at 17:26
• And, as a side question, which are these several ways you refer to? (I was hoping that the bullet making sure the answers are eventually released to the public would fulfill the goal you highlight — dissemination.) – Clement C. Jun 5 '15 at 17:27
• One example: "people with enough reputation can see it" so those with low point count cannot see it. So we get still more repetitive answers to questions towards the lower end of the quality spectrum to the same thing. This is what the site needs. – quid Jun 5 '15 at 17:36
• I see -- yes, that's a bad side effect. The "threshold" proposed was a way (naive) to ensure the OP cannot just log off and see the answer as anonymous. I hadn't considered the race to answers that it may cause from those just short of that threshold. Do you think setting the threshold at 1 (i.e., enforcing view by logged-in readers only) during the "non-revealed" phase) would raise the same sort of issue? – Clement C. Jun 5 '15 at 17:43
• On the one hand, a new user might decide to answer a question that appears unanswered to them while it is not, so it would still be bad. On the other hand, I am sitting here in front of a computer with a smart phone right next to me. I could ask from here, and read on the phone with another account. – quid Jun 5 '15 at 18:01

I think this is what comments are for. "What have you tried?" is a common comment to questions that show "absolutely no previous work or effort." Less frequently I see something along the lines of "Have you tried Smith's method?" Once or twice I've seen comments saying the question is from a specific contest or exam.

Another option might be to just temporarily withhold your answer: type it in full, format it just the way you want, but don't hit "Post Your Answer" just yet. Make sure it shows "saved" and then go to another page. Then maybe the following day, you go back to the question and decide whether to post your answer or hold on to it just a little bit longer.

• If you rely on the site drafts to come back to post an answer later, be warned that only one answer draft is saved per site (and one question draft). So if you draft an answer, and then draft/post a second answer your original draft will disappear. (See Meta Stack Exchange.) – user642796 Jun 6 '15 at 17:15
• Oh, I didn't know that. Hmm... – Robert Soupe Jun 7 '15 at 4:37

AOPS has allows commands of the form