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It seems — having had to deal with a quite a number in the last month or so — that most "answers" to old questions with an answer which is already accepted are in fact anything but an answer.

The most recent is:

nice answer..it cleared my confusion....

Generally these are automatically flagged by the system, which brings them to moderators' attention. Or, if such answers are sufficiently grammatical to bypass the automatic filter, members of the community flag them manually. Of course they are deleted as Not an answer, but this makes additional work for moderators, if not other members of the community.

Once a question has had such an answer, it's bumped on the site front page and tends to attract other answers which it seems are generally, although thankfully not always, of a similar quality.

Should there be a banner above the "Post your Answer" button advising users that there is already an accepted answer?

Mockup of possible banner message

Such a banner would not necessarily prevent anyone from posting an answer, and it might be limited to users under a certain rep level, or to questions which are of a certain age.

It could be useful to have the system automatically protect questions when an answer is accepted (that is, prevent users with less than 10 rep from posting new answers), but this is probably unnecessarily restrictive; everyone has to start somewhere — even if starting on an old, accepted question is probably not the best place.

This Meta question asks only whether we should be reminding users [some users] that they should be posting something useful.

  • Do you mean that the proposed banner would appear above the “Your Answer” button on all answers with an accepted answer no matter who looked at it or how old it was, or that this banner would only appear there once the question or its accepted answer reached a certain age, or that it would only be for users below a certain reputation — or some combination of those? – tchrist Aug 3 '14 at 22:40
  • You may be on to something here, Andrew. – tchrist Aug 4 '14 at 2:10
  • @tchrist Either or both or some combination. I'm open to answers suggesting what that combination should be. It could even be a sliding age-scale depending on the reputation of the user proposing to answer. – Andrew Leach Aug 4 '14 at 6:34
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    I've seen "wrong/poor" accepted answers many a time, it should not exclude a better answer from being posted in the future. Do you really want to risk dissuading a newcomer (who might be a potential contributor) from answering because s/he doesn't have enough rep? May I ask how many of these "not an answer" answers do mods receive per day? Aren't there at least six mods on ELU to handle this type of task? – Mari-Lou A Aug 5 '14 at 7:47
  • "Such a banner would not necessarily prevent anyone from posting an answer." A detailed and extensive history is not available, but since 31 July I (that is, not including other mods or posts which have attracted the required community votes) have deleted 15. The point is that while such answers exist they detract from good answers and actually encourage bad answers -- the questions get bumped, and at least one post has had more than one removed. – Andrew Leach Aug 5 '14 at 8:35
  • +1 I think the banner is a great idea. – Lumberjack Aug 6 '14 at 1:51
  • Since I mentioned "15" at 14-08-05 08:35Z, there have been an additional nine I've dealt with (again, not including others). – Andrew Leach Aug 6 '14 at 8:54
  • You know a curiosity AndrewLeach -- on the engineering sites, notably the software sites: Every single answer eventually becomes totally and completely redundant! It's a fascinating aspect of SO, it's really something when you think about it. (All that info -- totally out of date, particularly with software.) So people are starting to just flag old answers as "this hilariously out of date QA is here for historic reasons only". Examples, stackoverflow.com/questions/4212628 stackoverflow.com/questions/402 stackoverflow.com/questions/5492479 – Fattie Aug 11 '14 at 11:05
  • ... I guess this is less of an issue on ESO. With "moore's law", almost every question on the programming sites is just a curiosity after 12-36 months – Fattie Aug 11 '14 at 11:06
  • Remove the rep requirement to comment. When I was new I'd 'answer' where I couldn't comment. I realize this is a complicated, multifaceted issue but still, why let people answer where they are not allowed to comment? Seems like a stopgap for an unsolvable problem. @tchrist, most of the bad answers in your links are from those who can't comment. – Mazura Aug 13 '14 at 1:41
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I want to believe there is a way to encourage people to stop posting answers that are just deteriorated echoes of other answers, or worse. There already is a notice that pops up for unregistered answerers:

Warning that is displayed to new users posting their first answer

It moves the text box out of the way to display itself, so is very obvious.

I applaud your suggestion, but I'm not sure people who want to post something will read it.

  • +1 because I think the main point is worth making. But I don't endorse the last line (or OP's suggestion). Even more than you, I think hardly any "frivolous posters" will be deterred. So the benefit would be negligible even in respect of the small number of such users (who I'd say are almost all "unwanted users" anyway). The downside is that some of the users we do want to see participating more actively will be discouraged from answering questions that already have an accepted answer (even when an ignorant/careless/misguided OP has chosen unwisely, as often happens). – FumbleFingers Aug 7 '14 at 11:49
  • They might read it if you require the user to answer a confirmation prompt. It could display the information regarding low-quality posts again (in an overlay, to call even more attention to itself), and say, "I have reviewed my answer, and it follows these guidelines", or something to that effect, and then you'd have to choose "Yes" for the answer to be submitted. – Oran D. Lord Aug 7 '14 at 18:24

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