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:
- Sql Database design Ecommerce
- Review of three constructors for a String class
- Better importation of variables from .txt file
- Deleting folders is a risky business
- Looking for adivce - Dependency Injection over Service Locator in Mef
- How can I improve this 31-bit SuperFashHash implementation in VBA?
- Wordpress filter post by metavalue
- A more efficient enqueue algorithm in Java
- strstr implementation
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?.