If you all are interested, I think we should find a way to combine efforts in answering questions by creating an indicator that "[screenname] is currently answering this question."
Reducing overlapping efforts
Whenever I answer new questions, I'm sure there's an extremely high likelihood that someone else is looking into answering it as well -- either they're typing an answer, or reading code, or reading another resource. I would guess that we waste a significant amount of time overlapping with each other in providing the same answers to the same questions.
If there was an indicator on a question that said that "toscho is currently answering this question," then I'd move on to another question because I'm confident that toscho will provide a quality, accurate answer. That would allow me to work with toscho instead of working against toscho. And let's face it, nobody wants to work against a background process (or pretty much anyone on this page).
Playing devil's advocate, the SE networks gamify the Q & A system, so one could argue that what I'm proposing removes some of the competitive edge and might reduce the overall participation. Our current answer rate is 86%, so I'm inclined to think that this won't have any degree of impact until that number gets up above 95%. Let's face it, there's no shortage of unanswered questions here, so there's still plenty of points to be had.
The only thing that does concern me is answer quality suffering. If I'm in the middle of answering a question, and another answer pops up, I (obviously) read it. If it's a lousy answer, I'll continue on with mine. Had I come to the question and saw that someone was answering it, maybe I wouldn't have invested the time and moved on to another question. Truthfully, I don't know how much of an issue this would be, and I'd also guess that impact would have to do with implementation. I would probably only shy away from a question if I trusted the person answering it.
Why are people here answering questions? What is your average answerer's primary goal in answering questions? For me, it's to give back to the WordPress community. I want to see every (valid, reasonable, and not-too-narrow) question answered. The only way I see that ever being possible is to work with, not against, others.
This question is a feeler, to see if this is something others are interested in as well. If others agree, we can then talk implementation. What are your thoughts on this? Any additional concerns?