This question has 18 answers and counting. Is there a limit to number of answers.

If not should there be a limit?

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    Relevant here - workplace.meta.stackexchange.com/q/1627/2322 – enderland Jun 28 '17 at 14:43
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    IMHO SE need to look at allowing the MODS to impose a limit as needed. There is simply no way that each of the 18 answers offer something of use over say just the top 7 or so. – Neo Jun 28 '17 at 15:48
  • I am OK with the numbers of answers. I am more tempted to DV the question for not accepting one. – paparazzo Jun 28 '17 at 18:42
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    @MisterPositive I strongly disagree. Mod powers are meant to handle exceptional situations and the community has plenty of tools available to handle an above average number of answers: use your votes and flags. SE's voting system already makes it so new answers rarely get the exposure they might deserve. At the risk of sounding way too grandiose, actually setting hard limits on "new ideas" seems completely counter to SE's model of transparency and openness. – Lilienthal Jun 28 '17 at 21:35
  • @Lilienthal An interesting perspective. I see where your coming from. – Neo Jun 28 '17 at 22:20
  • @Lilienthal this approach is correct for most questions but not all. You might be interested in guidance for moderators provided by site founder here: How aggressively should we maintain and improve very popular questions? In brief, in some (rare) cases mods are expected to chime in, thoroughly study questions and answers and ruthlessly cleanup. The difficulty here is of course to figure when such a surgical intervention is justified... – gnat Jun 29 '17 at 7:08
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    ...we don't want mods to do this on a regular basis, only as an exception. Another difficulty (and fairly sad one) is in cases like that mods should not generally expect help and support from community and rather be prepared for opposite. The same site founder explained this here: The Trouble With Popularity. "This is why community moderators have real power; they need that power to intervene, educate, and refocus the community's exuberance on more substantive content..." – gnat Jun 29 '17 at 7:08
  • oh and the question in question appears to be the case when Atwood's guidance applies, I just saw this comment: "This question is currently on the front page of Hacker News..." That explains a lot. Meanwhile @Lilienthal could you please do the second clean up of comments over there? because as of now it looks like everybody ignores mod guidance on comments provided by enderland in top one – gnat Jun 29 '17 at 7:16
  • @gnat I think we're talking about different things. Mods indeed do sometimes have to outright remove content or take similar actions that the community cannot. But this is talking about preventing people from actually interacting with the network and bona fide contributors from submitting an answer. The proper way to handle this is still to allow submission of answer and to handle bad input after the fact. SE doesn't and shouldn't have a precrime division. Protecting a question is already fairly close to this suggestion and stops most of the drive-by answers, as that should only allow people – Lilienthal Jun 29 '17 at 7:30
  • who contributed to the site in the past to weigh in. The only next step we have is outright locking a question and as explained here that's somewhat of a nuclear option. Perhaps being posted on YCombinator is sufficient reason, though I'd argue that it's one of the safer communities to have invading your site. As for the comments, please continue to flag the question for mod attention instead of pinging me directly. We've already gone through several cleanup rounds on that question but it's remaining popular and we can't monitor the site 24/7. – Lilienthal Jun 29 '17 at 7:30
  • no disagreement from me here @Lilienthal - I also think that besides protection there should not be any other means to automatically prevent posting an answer to an open question. Speaking of YCombinator, just look at the question views, these are already over 100K and growing, I bet it's just the case referred by Atwood. It's not even a "regular" fake popularity that comes in 5-10K views/day from questions being spammed at Stack Overflow sidebar – gnat Jun 29 '17 at 7:42
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    @gnat Indeed, the average seems to be at 10 views per second right now. I think this answer, #18 in the list or so, is a good example of why a question limit wouldn't make much sense. That answer offers a useful perspective that hadn't been raised before. SE's voting means that it will probably not get the exposure it might deserve but it's a good addition. Thanks for keeping an eye on that question and the answers that come in by the way. – Lilienthal Jun 29 '17 at 8:58
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    I think in this case it is primarily because the question was linked on hacker news. – enderland Jun 30 '17 at 14:12
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    @schizoid04 workplace.stackexchange.com/questions/93696/… – enderland Jul 4 '17 at 22:56

If the answers are not quality, they will get down-voted and eventually deleted. Putting a limit will not increase the quality of answers, just make people rush to get their answers in before the limit is reached.

Edited to add that of those 18, 1 has been deleted, two more have delete votes.

The community keeps on top of things, and is quick to remove the trash.


The SE software does not impose a limit on the number of answers a question can have. Either all the answers contribute something, or some of them should be downvoted and possibly removed. The community is responsible for doing this maintenance. Ours does a pretty good job of that, though occasional reminders aren't a bad idea.


If not should there be a limit?

I see no good reason to limit the number of answers. What purpose would that serve?


The idea of an arbitrary limit, as others have noted, wouldn't have a significant positive impact.

However, it is possible for questions to be 'locked' to prevent additional answers, comments, edits, etc. If this happens, then while the post is locked, no additional answers can be added, so in effect this would 'limit' the number of answers on a question if it were locked for some reason.

For reference, the below excerpts are from the Help Center.

What is a locked post?

A post which is "locked" cannot be modified in any way. Locking prevents...

  • ...voting on the post (including close/reopen votes for questions)

  • ...editing

  • ...commenting

  • ...answering (for questions)

  • ...flagging (though "in need of moderator intervention" flags are still allowed, except in the case of Historical Significance locks - see below)

Posts can be locked either temporarily or permanently, by Moderators.

However, the reasons for locking a post are fairly limited:

When should a post be locked?

As a general rule, temporary locks should be used whenever modifications to a post are causing serious problems on the site. For example:

  • Edit wars

  • Extended bickering in comments (but see: a guide to moderating comments)

  • A controversial post that is under discussion on meta

Permanent locks should almost never be used, with the exception of those imposed by the system itself.

There's no mention here of locking a post because there are a ton of low-quality answers being added, and the others here have touched on a possible reason for that, which is that the community should be able to review, flag, vote on these answers so that they're deleted.

If there were many, many low-quality answers being added to a post, I'd flag for moderator attention, and if it were causing serious problems for some reason, it's possible they could lock the post. However, I don't realistically see a situation where that would occur in comparison to just letting the community moderate the answers.

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    Locking is a really big stick, as it blocks edits and votes too. If a question shouldn't get any more answers, it's usually better to close it. (For which you'd need a reason, but I'd argue that you'd need that reason for locking, too.) – Monica Cellio Jul 11 '17 at 15:23

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