Sometimes it happens that after being writing an answer to a question for some time, the question is answered by another user providing the same information one has written (i.e. the right answer...) It could be useful to see if somebody else is writing while you're doing so, because you could then focus on look for another unanswered question instead of wasting time.

  • $\begingroup$ While typing an answer, we do get a notification, when somebody else posts an answer. I think that is enough. I don't think that the server will even know about, when you start writing an answer. The messages come within seconds. OTOH, the following has happened to me a couple of times: I have posted a comment. I don't see any answers. I go check out another question, and come back. To my horror a couple of answers have been posted. With time stamps earlier than my post. May be posting a comment initially happens only at my end? No biggie, really. As long as I know about this :-) $\endgroup$ – Jyrki Lahtonen Oct 3 '11 at 20:11
  • $\begingroup$ @Jyr It seems that one cannot always depend on rapid new answer notifications. Not too infrequently I receive the new answer notification a few minutes or more after the answer was posted. I don't think I've ever seen the notification occur "within seconds". I wonder what sort of delays others typically see. $\endgroup$ – Bill Dubuque Oct 3 '11 at 20:23
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    $\begingroup$ @Bill: Of course I only remember the cases, when I lost by 'a handful of seconds'. And was surprised to later find out that the difference in time stamps was like 20-30 seconds. So my personal statistics have a built in bias. I don't know what a typical roundtrip time here might be? $\endgroup$ – Jyrki Lahtonen Oct 3 '11 at 20:28
  • $\begingroup$ It is worth mentioning that similar feature request on meta.stackexchange is status-declined. And there are many related discussions linked there, for example this one. $\endgroup$ – Martin Sleziak Apr 28 '14 at 4:46

Mathematicians could leave a placeholder answer while they are completing a fuller answer. This would allow others to answer other questions.

Be aware that this is sometimes seen as an annoying way to "game the system" - first posts are listed, and thus read, first, and thus tend to get more upvotes.

I suppose that could be avoided by an agreed convention - {{PLACEHOLDER POST}} or somesuch.

  • $\begingroup$ "first posts are listed, and thus read, first, and thus tend to get more upvotes." - i.e., people are gorram lazy, and this is what FGITWs profit on. ;) $\endgroup$ – J. M. is a poor mathematician Oct 4 '11 at 22:47
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    $\begingroup$ I would be inclined to downvote every obvious placeholder post. $\endgroup$ – Jyrki Lahtonen Oct 5 '11 at 6:20
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    $\begingroup$ Answers with the same vote score seem to be sorted randomly each time I load a page. I'm not seeing any indication of the oldest one getting any preferred treatment. $\endgroup$ – Henning Makholm Oct 7 '11 at 18:21
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    $\begingroup$ I would say that some users already do use kind of placeholder posts (although I am too lazy to try to find examples right now). I have seen several times the following situation (and I have also done this): At first, a brief answer containing a few sentences is posted; then the user edits the answer to expand on some points worth expanding.\\ However, this still leads to possibility that another user will try to answer. He might think that the two sentences in your post is all you want to say. And if he thinks that it is worth expanding, he starts doing so on his own. $\endgroup$ – Martin Sleziak Oct 25 '11 at 7:10

I am slow and I get beat to an answer very often. I like getting points. They're fun. But I love mathematics. If someone beats me to an answer and his/hers is better than mine, I discard or delete mine. Of course there is a grey area there, and someone may object to my decision to post my answer too. To bad. I will gladly tell you why I disagree with you. My goal is that good mathematics gets done. I will, unhappily, back off if I think some has beaten me to it. Placeholder posts are just one more level of noise. I can't tell what I should do until I read the others post.


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