Answering EE questions isn't simple. Quite literally, it can be rocket science (or the math thereof.) So it should come as no surprise that often we find ourselves typing away at the bottom of a long-winded answer, only for the dreaded 1 new answer to this question message to pop up. WHAMMY!

Now most of what has just been written is moot, yet this unsubmitted answer includes links, pretty mathjax, and photos. So what does one do at that point? Scrap all the work just done, or submit it anyways? Or worse yet, learn to "ninja-edit" to be that first responder? \$\text{<cringe...>}\$

I'd like to propose an n Answer(s) In Progress indicator. So that before we start typing, we have an idea if anyone else is already working on it. And as soon as we start typing, others can be aware. I certainly do not wish to trample on anyone else's toes by posting redundant answers, and I'd hope they'd feel likewise. Quality should be more important than answer speed, right? Perhaps such a feature could reduce the number of duplicate answers and/or wasted time. Or could it encourage ninja-editing?

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    \$\begingroup\$ EE.SE doesn't suffer all that much from the Fastest Gun in the West Problem. I think that simultaneous identical answers are not a bad thing. It shows that there is independent agreement among experts. While only one answer can be accepted, multiple answers can be +1ed. \$\endgroup\$ Feb 17, 2016 at 5:23
  • \$\begingroup\$ So more people actually would not want an indicator showing that the question is actively being answered. Interesting. \$\endgroup\$
    – rdtsc
    Apr 27, 2016 at 11:44

1 Answer 1


This isn't about earning Valuable Internet Points And Badges, it's about sharing expertise. Quality is definitely more important than speed.

A good quality question, one that could be valuable to other people in the future, deserves the benefit of your research. If you see Spehro or Olin or Andy (or any other active, established user), that's just a sign that it's a question worth answering.

If the answer you're about to post turns out to be an actual duplicate of the Fastest Gun's answer, i.e. they said essentially the same thing you were about to say, and you have nothing to add, well, that does suck. So edit:

  • did you find a supporting resource the other answer didn't mention?
  • is there another way to explain the answer?
  • looking at the asker's user profile, is the answer is at a level they will likely understand?

If someone is asking about electrons and water metaphor and LEDs, they're probably not ready to understand phasors and reactive power and bandgaps. Maybe they've asked some other questions that help shed light on what they're actually trying to accomplish, or what they should be asking...

As an asker: I've never actually needed to post a question on stackoverflow, I always find someone else has already asked. Often the things I'm interested in have previously been answered 2-3 years ago. I don't care who posted the first answer, I look at the most upvoted answers -- all I care about is the nugget of information I need to solve the immediate problem. And if the answer is helpful, I give 'em an upvote.

If I'm browsing questions on my phone during lunch, I'll only comment or vote. But when I write a non-trivial answer, it usually takes me a solid 20-30 minutes of research, editing, checking, proofreading and fixing my markdown errors before I finally submit my answer. I usually do this editing on a desktop computer, in a plain text editor, open next to the EE.stackexchange page. In those rare cases where the question gets deleted before I have a chance to post my answer, I still save a local copy in my source control repo. So even when things get trimmed or sent to the scrap heap, that research and writing isn't a complete waste. I still get paid the same, and I get to keep whatever I've learned.


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