From Grace Note's CR review (emphasis mine):

Time to Answer

Jon Ericson, another Community Manager, ran some numbers on the site and discovered that the average time it takes for a question to receive its first answer is actually several hours (averaging somewhere between 8 and 10 hours). This seemed pretty high, but a quick browse of the questions is pretty enlightening - things are huge here. A lot of questions comprise of gigantic blocks of code that have little guidance as to what should be reviewed. This, however, can be remedied a bit.

  • Ask people to provide less gigantic blocks of code and instead scope their code to the relevantly smaller portions
  • Ask people to provide instructions and/or guidance as to what they’re looking to get out of the review or what they want to have addressed
  • Encourage a stronger positive feedback loop such as by editing

Monstrous code blocks are a two-fold to the site’s potential. It scares away new answerers because of the amount of effort needed to get in (which, with voting distribution, isn’t necessarily rewarding either). And without getting answerers, askers don’t get as much out of the site leaving them to vanish as well.

From Malachi's reply to that post (emphasis mine):

Not all of our answers have to hit everything that is wrong with the code.

This means that we can/should leave shorter answers even if the question is begging for more review, a lot of us are reviewing in between writing code and waiting for code to compile or whatever, and leaving shorter answers is okay. this will also leave room for allowing (asking) the OP to vote on all the answers that gave a good review to their code.

I think this is bang on - proven in the comments under the post (emphasis mine):

RE: "Not all of our answers have to hit everything that is wrong with the code." This was something that I didn't grok when I looked over the site last week. I really wanted to provide an answer or two, but the urge to provide a comprehensive answer (or none at all) was overwhelming. It might be helpful if site regulars led by example and started answering unanswered (meaning no answers at all) in this way. (N.B. I looked at Perl and Lua questions, which are probably minorities here. That might be a different problem than what one might see on more popular tags.)

– Jon Ericson♦

Here are a few recent examples of what I would think are perfectly good (totally assumed biased opinion) answers of reasonable length, by some of the site's regulars:

I mean to discuss the ideal length of a good, non-intimidating answer here, not to blatantly plug any of these answers - hence I'm linking to their respective revisions page.

Side note, providing such answers on the older posts - and upvoting them (so as to keep the number of questions with no upvoted answers under control), potentially earns a shiny new badge :)

I see where Jon Ericson came from - lots of us have written many reviews that essentially are walls of text with featured code blocks. Useful indeed, but intimidating: this kind of answer leaves little or no room for further answers, which isn't helping our answers-per-question ratio. And they're longer to write, which isn't helping our Time to Answer metric.

I'm sure if we nail the ideal answer format, the pile of unanswered questions will just melt. Let this discussion answer the question at what length, or at how many ideas/points should an answerer consider breaking their post into several answers?.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Fastest Gun in the West! :D \$\endgroup\$
    – Jamal
    Commented Nov 17, 2013 at 19:35
  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ And about the long, comprehensive answer thing, I see what you mean. \$\endgroup\$
    – Jamal
    Commented Nov 17, 2013 at 19:38
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Jamal the fastest gun in the West needs to shoot faster :) \$\endgroup\$ Commented Nov 17, 2013 at 20:17
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Jamal That specific gun is one reason for why I currently prefer CR before SO! At CR I can take almost as much time as I want to post my answer. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Nov 17, 2013 at 21:45
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    \$\begingroup\$ @SimonAndréForsberg: Same here! I just don't bother posting answers there, especially with the chance of receiving easy downvotes. \$\endgroup\$
    – Jamal
    Commented Nov 17, 2013 at 21:47
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Simon I agree - but we should be able to answer questions in less than half the average time we have now.. that's still plenty of time though :) \$\endgroup\$ Commented Nov 17, 2013 at 22:07
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Jamal: I see what you (and retailcoder) mean, but note that the answer you refer to has 12 upvotes and a comment from the OP saying that's exactly what he was looking for. I don't know python, but if I were learning it, I think reading that answer in detail would help enormously. Whatever we end up doing to encourage shorter, faster answers, we should not be doing anything to discourage an answer like that. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Nov 18, 2013 at 19:01
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    \$\begingroup\$ @MichaelShaw: That is fair, and I was in no way criticizing the answer. I was just presenting an example of such an answer (I didn't show one of mine as that could seem like opportunistic self-promotion). \$\endgroup\$
    – Jamal
    Commented Nov 18, 2013 at 19:08
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    \$\begingroup\$ Just to note: my critique was mostly aimed at questions, not answers. At least for the questions I read, it was hard to know how to get started answering. But if the idea is to do something along the lines of the Perl Repair Shop, I can see myself getting into that. But it's important to educate users somehow. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Nov 19, 2013 at 7:28
  • \$\begingroup\$ Related meta post: Short answers and code-only answers \$\endgroup\$ Commented Apr 8, 2014 at 11:08

2 Answers 2


With this question in mind, I decided to split up my answer to this question in two parts.

I feel that it makes the answer(s) more readable than if I would have put everything in one answer, but it does feel a bit like a new form of "rep-whoring".

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    \$\begingroup\$ If rep-whoring can get our answers-per-question ratio up above or around 2.5, you gotta do what you gotta do! Besides we need more rep awarded overall... \$\endgroup\$ Commented Nov 18, 2013 at 19:38

with the amount of things that we are saying in most of the reviews, they really should be more than one answer to break up the answers. some of them are Facebook scroller long! and that is a lot to digest, and if you want to share one part of that answer you would have to share the whole answer. and most of the time the entire answer isn't all about the one aspect of the review.

  • 4
    \$\begingroup\$ "Facebook scroller long", love that wording! Very good point about sharing specific parts of answers. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Nov 18, 2013 at 21:08

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