I'm not much of an answerer, but lots of the questions have only one answer - I'd imagine that a stack of answers have been written by a handful of people.

I'm not sure about the reasoning behind this, but apparently 2.5 answers per question (I guess 2-3 answers for each question?) is a healthy target - I'd think it'd have something to do with answer quality or something.

I think legal questions more often than not will lend themselves to multiple answers which may be as valid as the last.

Any thoughts on this single-answer phenomenon? I'd be interested in thoughts on the answer-to-question ratio, too. The rest of the stats I kinda understand - you need questions to answer; you need those questions to be answered; you need users to question and answer and; you want to bring in new traffic which converts to new questions and answers. But I'm not 100% on the reason for encouraging multiple answers.

  • 1
    The "2.5 answers" thing is a relic that's never been fixed. Most of those stats aren't too useful anymore.
    – HDE 226868
    Jun 18, 2015 at 16:49
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    If you look at the stats for graduated sites, an answer ratio of around 1.5 is typical. A question with a large number of answers is generally a bad thing -- it usually indicates that the question is too broad, or too opinion-based, or (and I've seen this often on worldbuilding.se) that the Dunning-Kruger Effect is in play and a large number of people falsely think they have the expertise needed to answer.
    – Mark
    Jun 18, 2015 at 21:23
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    @HDE226868 is right about the answer ratio stat on Area 51 being a relic. It might be fun to look at sometimes but isn't particularly useful, at the very least from a graduation evaluation standpoint. Tangentially related: Graduation, site closure and a clearer outlook on the health of SE sites
    – Pops
    Jun 22, 2015 at 20:30
  • @Pops: Thanks, an interesting read. Also the methodology was interesting for determining graduation criteria (if that's all that was considered), ie: We are graduating these sites and they all have this in common, so we'll use this as the criteria for graduating sites ;)
    – jimsug
    Jun 22, 2015 at 21:27

1 Answer 1


From my experience on other sites, I would say the following:

  • When I see a question that I can answer I first check to see if the question already has an answer. If the question has an answer I ask myself if my answer will be essentially the same answer. Can I add anything useful? Does the other answer address all the aspects of the question or was something left out? If I feel that I can provide something useful for the OP besides what has already been given, then I just do this even if my answer will overlap the other answer. Sometimes an answer addresses all the aspects of the question, but I might feel that I can say things differently. Maybe I can add some some references or some details or historical background that the already existing answer doesn't. In those cases I just post an answer.

  • If no answer exists and I have an answer, then I will post one. If another answer is posted as I am tying my answer I just keep typing. I don't see the hurt in having two answers that basically say the same thing and if I have already spent some time researching and typing an answer, then I will just post what I have.

  • I usually approach the Stack Exchange model not as a competition about points, but with an honest desire to try and help the OP.

  • I don't think that we should push having multiple answers to each question, but I think that it naturally will happen. So I think we shouldn't worry about it and just focus on providing quality answers.

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