I propose that the site ceases ordering answers according to the number of upvotes. The default ordering should be with the newest answers on top, and a very highly visible button to order according to the number of votes.

Rationale: the current scheme makes it very difficult to propose newer answers to old questions, or even not so old questions in case one of the answers already gathered a significant number of upvotes and/or was accepted (sometimes hastily) by the OP.

When a new answer is added, most site visitors will see the question on the list, end up visualizing the accepted or already highly upvoted one and many will get impressed by this and add one upvote, not even going to the new answer.

I know that clicking on "modified ..." should bring the visitor to the new answer, but perhaps many site visitors don't, and for example on my computer it doesn't work when I am in private browsing mode on firefox (which I am always).

Also people coming to the site after a google search will be presented with sometimes very old accepted answers, and possibly better newer ones will not even be read.

In the long run, the accumulated knowledge in such a system is in peril of obsolescence; TeX/LaTeX is special due to its great stability, nevertheless it goes through evolutions, and if the site is to keep its utility in twenty years from now, it should slow down rather than encourage gregarious voting behavior.

  • Who downvoted this? This is a decent question!!!
    – user31729
    Oct 22, 2015 at 20:01
  • @ChristianHupfer the vagaries of democracy I guess; too much democracy borders on demagogy, and sites like stackexchange to some extent blossom upon this. (this comment will perhaps bring more downvotes...)
    – user4686
    Oct 22, 2015 at 20:04
  • I don't hope so, but in fact, it might be a question for Meta.SX in total, since the technical details would be the same for all SX sites, I assume
    – user31729
    Oct 22, 2015 at 20:28
  • @ChristianHupfer there is already a (discrete but yet quite visible) "active" button, and also "oldest" next to "votes". Thus I can not pretend that stackexchange has no such offer. But I am afraid it is deeply ingrained that "most voted answers climb to the top", and that this mechanism is so consubstantial to stackexchange that it is most unlikely to be demoted anytime soon. Imagine a minute Facebook dropping the notion of so-called "Friends", and you get an analogy.
    – user4686
    Oct 22, 2015 at 20:48
  • 6
    @ChristianHupfer on meta a vote usually means I agree and a downvote I disagree. It doesn't says necessarily anything about the quality of the question.
    – cgnieder
    Oct 23, 2015 at 8:56
  • I have answered sorted active and I tend to forget that this is not the default…
    – cgnieder
    Oct 23, 2015 at 8:58
  • @clemens I didn't know you could set it to active by default for your own visits to the site, thanks for pointing it out.
    – user4686
    Oct 23, 2015 at 9:10
  • 1
    @clemens: I know about this 'agree/disagree' voting ... I disagree with this ;-)
    – user31729
    Oct 23, 2015 at 13:09
  • Any choice has its own consequences. I believe the default sort is by votes since visitors need to see the apparently more correct and useful content. And this leads to encouraging Fastest Gun In The West and discouraging later answers, as you say.
    – M.A.R.
    Oct 27, 2015 at 17:38

1 Answer 1


One of the things that make the Stack Exchange sites useful is that when we have the answer, it's literally the first thing you see on the page once you've read the question.

This is very valuable, and it's one of the things that make Stack Exchange sites more useful than forums or mailing lists for Q&A (I'm speaking from a Q&A perspective specifically — forums and mailing lists are better for other use cases).

We don't want to lose that.

There are definitely some issues with the current sorting, and we're trying to work through those, but I think the cure you're proposing here is worse than the disease.

Here are some posts where this was discussed on Meta Stack Exchange:

  • ok, I think you meant "we don't want to lose that" ;-). Or was it a trick to get my upvote ? ;-).
    – user4686
    Oct 23, 2015 at 9:12
  • @jfbu Haha, sorry about that. Indeed, I meant "don't". : ) Oct 23, 2015 at 9:13
  • oops, you fixed it exactly at the time I posted my comment! thanks for taking the time for your answer. (thus deserves an upvote anyway, done).
    – user4686
    Oct 23, 2015 at 9:13
  • @jfbu I fixed it because of your comment ; ) Oct 23, 2015 at 9:18
  • This confirms my long-standing feeling someone is always watching over my shoulders whenever I prepare a comment or an answer ;-), you are pretty fast !
    – user4686
    Oct 23, 2015 at 9:26
  • @jfbu We happen to be on Stack Exchange a lot of the time, so inbox notifications are seen pretty fast! : ) Oct 23, 2015 at 9:30

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