I think this is a subset of the Fastest Gun in the West problem. Only our timescale is months, not seconds. (So we have the Fastest Glacier in the West problem instead.) In a nutshell, the first answer to a question has a slight advantage if it even looks correct. Each subsequent answer will face the twin problems of starting with fewer votes and being sorted lower on the page for
2/3s of the sort orders. (While it gets sorted to the top of the
active sort order, there's no way we can force people to use that option and I don't think it's a good default.) Because of human psychology, this can be a very difficult hurdle to overcome.
Unfortunately, Stack Exchange has generally locked the preference for answering quickly into the system itself. When it comes to programming questions, that's actually a really good idea—if I'm struggling to solve a technical problem and I get a hint of how to solve it within a minute or two of asking, I'm really happy. But for Bible questions, the answers are literally eternal and there's no particular urgency to get an answer.
So far, Stack Exchange has been reluctant to change things for the benefit of smaller sites. Truth be told, they are probably making the right call. The fact is sites like ours are never going to be more than a tiny, incremental contributor to the network's overall success. (That's whether you measure by traffic, revenue, or the vague "making the internet a better place".) So if we want to get some developer support, we need to make the case that it will help other sites on the network (and Stack Overflow in particular). That's not an easy task.
Further, I can't think of a good technical solution to the problem. On the other hand, I think there are some cultural solutions:
Use your vote.
My philosophy is to be very liberal with my votes. Since day one, I've striven to
cultivate a wide range of answers by voting up everything that I can. I try to reserve my downvotes for just plain wrong answers. Every time you up vote, you help make someone else feel a little bit better about their contributions and, in turn, encourage them to vote on other people's answers.
Personal comments are even better at making people feel good about their work. My favorite comments are things like:
"It doesn't say anymore than the original": but it might say less. Your average reader is going to say, "What in the world are tachash skins?" and the resulting confusion is a sign of lessened communication. I think transliteration is a cop-out. But good answer anyway +1.—Kazark
That makes clear that the answer deserves a vote even if the reader disagrees with the conclusion. Happy users vote and stick around the site longer. (See #1 and #7.)
I have to thank Richard for modeling this for me. Once I got enough reputation (and 4000 will probably be enough for most people until we get close to graduation), I realized that I could reinvest my excess reputation into the site by offering bounties for good, unanswered questions or to reward under-appreciated answers. It doesn't change the sort order (maybe it should) but it does accomplish some of the goals of #1 and #2 and provides a visual clue that under-appreciated answers deserve a second look. In addition, the bounty itself brings attention to the entire question and all answers for 7 days.
Change your accepted answer when a better on shows up.
Obviously only the asker can do this. But when a new answer to one of your old questions pops up, consider changing the accepted answer. (Please don't hassle people about their accepted answers however. If they liked another answer better than yours, that's their prerogative.)
Point out good answers in chat or on meta.
One thing I've learned from reading MSO is that mentioning a post there will bring lots of attention (both negative and positive) to the post on the original site. I try to read every post on BH.SE, but even so I miss (or gloss over) some answers. But if you drop a note here or put something in chat (hey, let's use that resource!), we will take a closer look. Of course, the subset of users on meta and chat are also likely to be the subset who have already voted on a question. YMMV.
Link to good answers.
I've had great success by reusing old answers in answering new questions. If an answer to question
A also touches on an issue raised in question
B, you can double answer
A's exposure by dropping a link to it in answer
B. I have started thinking about making my answers more widely applicable for just that reason.
Ultimately the only real solution is to let the voting sort itself out over time. If all goes well, we'll have more users in a year than we do now. With more users comes more votes. With more votes comes more clarity on which answers are better than others. Look at my profile on Stack Overflow. I'm in the top 5% of users even though I quit contributing there two years ago. I still get an upvote or two every few days on answers that I've long forgotten. We are in the first inning of this site and unless the game is called for rain, we have plenty of time for the cream to rise to the top. (Mixed metaphor alert!)
If we make this a generous place and we keep getting new users, then this problem should work itself out over time.