Recently it came to my attention that there are per-site configuration settings that allow us to create some extremely minor barriers to answering questions when more than n answers already exist. This is currently implemented on the site but the threshold for tripping it is set at 30 answers.

The difference is that, instead of an answer field, there's a button that reads "Answer this question" which, when clicked, creates a popup with the following text:

"This question has more than 30 answers already. Did you read through all the existing answers first to make sure your answer will be contributing something new? Also, please note that you can click the edit link on any of these answers to improve them.

This question has more than {x} answers already.

Did you read through all the existing answers first to make sure your answer will be contributing something new?

Also, please note that you can click the edit link on any of these answers to improve them.

This doesn't prevent answers, per se, but it does ask users to be cognizant of the existing answers before posting their own.

Should we request this limit to be lowered, and to what?

As a note, questions are automatically flagged by the system when a question receives ten answers within seven days. We largely ignore these flags because there's not much for us to do about them, considering the vast quantity of answers we get here. I'm also interested in changing this auto flag, which is apparently also configurable. This doesn't affect the users as the only people who see it are mods but we need to request it on meta to have it changed.

I think that, since the system sees fit to flag at 10 answers, we might consider something lower than that for the "answer this question" button - perhaps something around seven.

  • 2
    Sounds good, but I'm a little worried about this part: "Also, please note that you can click the edit link on any of these answers to improve them."
    – apaul
    Commented Jan 10, 2018 at 23:28
  • I'm not sure whether that's editable or not. It is technically true... but few choose to follow that advice.
    – Catija
    Commented Jan 10, 2018 at 23:29
  • I get that, just worried that some users may misinterpret "improve"
    – apaul
    Commented Jan 10, 2018 at 23:30
  • So, at the moment it already exists, it's just not getting shown to anyone because we haven't hit 30 answers... I don't think... we could always leave it as is and if it becomes a problem with people going edit crazy, we can ask it to be changed.
    – Catija
    Commented Jan 10, 2018 at 23:33
  • Support question about that pop-up: meta.stackexchange.com/q/305597/274942.
    – HDE 226868
    Commented Jan 11, 2018 at 0:35
  • 1
    @apaul I think the users who would misinterpret that would also be below the threshold where they can submit edits without needing approval... at least, I would hope so :)
    – Em C
    Commented Jan 11, 2018 at 16:46
  • also, very tempted to flag as duplicate ;) interpersonal.meta.stackexchange.com/questions/2062/…
    – Em C
    Commented Jan 11, 2018 at 16:49
  • It's kind of weird on IPS... Answers tend to be more personal, so editing someone else's (other than grammar/typos/etc) feels somewhat invasive. I think we do get some answers that feel like duplicate action suggestions but often in that case, different reasoning is involved in the explanation of why to take the action. Basically, because IPS isn't black and white, each answer is slightly different enough most of the time that I'm not sure how much this would help.
    – Jess K.
    Commented Jan 11, 2018 at 17:17
  • 3
    @JessK. But my feeling is that a lot of them are really similar because people don't actually read the existing ones, not because there's anything new for them to add. This is particularly true when questions have lots of answers already.
    – Catija
    Commented Jan 11, 2018 at 17:27
  • @Catija That's true. I refrained from upvoting or downvoting either way because I haven't done any digging through questions to analyze the answers. If anything else, it doesn't really hurt since it doesn't block a user from posting... just asks them to be cognizant of what's already available.
    – Jess K.
    Commented Jan 11, 2018 at 17:30
  • @JessK. Yep. That's my thought. It's a speed bump.
    – Catija
    Commented Jan 11, 2018 at 17:35
  • 1
    I like this idea. I do think a lot of answerers just skim or skip over other answers, partly because it's much harder here to just search the page for the "right" answer than on some other sites. Here, I suspect it's possible for two answers to offer essentially identical advice, without actually duplicating any "keywords" at all.
    – 1006a
    Commented Jan 11, 2018 at 18:10
  • Good idea, but strangely on interpersonal I often got some comments removed without notice. It now just give me the idea to post answer and don’t wait the OP to answer my comment, as comment are volatile anyway. I tell my opinion, as strangely the way its dealed there make me fell like there is a race to post an answer, and it shouldnt be that way.
    – yagmoth555
    Commented Feb 19, 2018 at 23:56

1 Answer 1


1. Raise the autoflag threshold to 15.

We have issues on Worldbuilding with questions that get lots of answers. The HNQ effect means that many get 10 or more, and our record is at least 30 or 40, I think. However, we (the Worldbuilding mods) did there what we (the IPS mods) do here, and let the answer autoflags sit for a while. So we got the threshold raised, to 15 answers, and we've been extremely happy. We might as well raise the threshold to 15 answers for IPS, because otherwise, we just accumulate a bunch of flags that we won't touch for a couple days. And that's a bit annoying.

Plus, the IPS question rates is low enough that, with the help of community flaggers, we can catch low-quality answers decently quickly. So not getting notified when there are 10 answers to a question within a short period of time (which may include one or two that may require deletion) isn't a huge problem for us.

2. Lower the popup threshold to 7-10.

I don't have a great idea of when, on average, questions start to get duplicate answers. Is it 5 (probably not)? 15 (maybe)? 20 (definitely)? I'd feel good about something in the range of 7-10, according to my gut. As I said before, we've got a good flagging/commenting community, and they can be our first line of defense against these posts (sure, getting them after they're posted, but still). That's in part why I'm not necessarily going along with 7; I think we can afford to go a bit higher. But certainly not more than 10.

  • 1
    I could start with 10 and see how it goes? The one thing that is worth remembering, it won't actually be active until a question has 11 answers. So 10 is really 11... if that makes sense.
    – Catija
    Commented Jan 13, 2018 at 2:46
  • 3
    Done, HDE @Cat - 15 and 10
    – Shog9
    Commented Feb 14, 2018 at 2:41

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .