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I know we are only in private beta, so this may be premature, but should we be concerned about the number of answers per question that we will get in the long term?

To put this in context, I had a colleague who never gave partial credit on biology exams. His rationale was: "This is biology. It is either right or wrong." While I don't agree, I can see the point. I think that questions here will often generate a single really good, well-documented, and comprehensive answer.

In contrast, take stackoverflow. In programming there is usually more than one way accomplish a task. I recall one question that generated ~20 different, perfectly viable solutions.

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Getting 20 answers is not really something we should strive to, nobody reads that many answers anyway. Having too many answers is often a sign that a question is too broad, or inviting opinions. If you have so many answers and it isn't a list question, most of the additional answers are probably not providing any new insights.

The target should be to get more than 1 answer for most questions. It makes a big difference whether you get only 1 answer, or something like 3-4. Sometimes the one answer might be completely sufficient, but often a few more answers will provide some additional details and different perspectives. For 3-4 answers there is also still a good chance that most people will look at all of those.

I wouldn't worry about the answer rate at this point.

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Well, here are my 2 cents :

  • With time, a better understanding of a phenomenon can lead to new answers – at best/worse depending how you see it :D – or refinement of existing ones – at best/worse –.

  • Maybe an exhaustive answer to a given question at a given time relies on knowledge that different people from different fields have. And I think that biology.stackexchange is precisely the place where people with various backgrounds should be encouraged to share their knowledge with each other.

  • More technical questions could actually be handled just like programming questions. Protocols are juste like code listings :)

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