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Currently, accepted answers are automatically put at the top when sorted by any criteria, unless it's by the OP.

If an accepted answer is wrong and has several more downvotes than the top-voted answer, please don't put it at the top of the list when sorting by votes.

Example: What does ||= mean in Ruby? has the accepted answer with +16 -8 = 8 net votes, and the top-voted answer with +15 -0 = 15 net votes.

Many users don't have access to the upvote/downvote count of a question, and therefore would have to read the comments (and comment upvotes) to know that something's amiss. Yes, they'd have to do the same if they read past the first top-voted answer and then read the wrong answer, but reading the right answer and then the wrong answer is better than the other way around.

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First of all, to tell if an answer is right, try it. Secondly, where do you draw the line? How many votes? – Moshe Oct 11 '11 at 2:54
I think it's a good idea overall, but the loophole is that votes themselves don't necessarily denote correctness. Perhaps my answer was initially downvoted, then I later(maybe 24 hours) fixed it and OP liked it(and chose mine right afterward). I often change my answers based on comments I get. – Adel Oct 11 '11 at 3:11
Your example would be good and noteworthy and all, but the second-listed answer doesn't convince me, as it hardly seems to be an answer, as it links to a 403 Access Forbidden page as its reference, and leaves things open-ended. – Nightfirecat Oct 11 '11 at 4:09
Keep on downvoting till this gets -8! – Andrew Grimm Oct 11 '11 at 4:14
See answers here, and also:… – Shog9 Jul 18 '13 at 23:35
up vote 11 down vote accepted

Is an answer that receives 16 upvotes and 8 downvotes clearly worse than an answer that only receives 8 upvotes? Accepted answer only tells us that the answer helped the OP solve their problem. It doesn't necessarily mean it's the best approach or the most correct one.

As Adel mentioned in comments, downvotes also don't mean the answer isn't correct. All in all, this kind of feature would probably be too error-prone and unreliable.

You could probably make a case for not showing accepted answers with a negative score (say, below -4) at the top, but even then... just because an answer is downvoted, doesn't mean it can't or won't help the OP.

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Although arguably, in this case the OP just didn't know better. They accepted the only answer there was, even if it was wrong at that time. For questions that ask "What does … mean?", there is no real problem that needed to be solved. – slhck Oct 11 '11 at 8:11
@slhck Granted, but that's a different problem that won't be solved by not putting downvoted accepted answers at the top. I'm also not convinced that's a widespread issue, but I'm not sure how to go about verifying that. Far as "what does ... mean?" questions go, the problem clearly is to find out the meaning of .... :) The answer that gives the best explanation is the one that solves it best. – Adam Lear Oct 11 '11 at 11:23
Yes, but still, the main problem is that the OP accepted a wrong answer just because they didn't know it was wrong and at that time, and nobody mentioned that. Upvotes followed (I presume) because it was accepted. So, there is no "best" explanation really :) – slhck Oct 11 '11 at 12:13
@slhck Wrong answers being accepted is a whole different matter. It's really more of a people problem than a technology problem. – Adam Lear Oct 11 '11 at 15:02
You are absolutely right about this - for the major part of questions, this doesn't even apply. – slhck Oct 11 '11 at 15:06

Personally, I would rather see the answers always sorted by votes, where the accepted answer (marked as such) is sorted to wherever it lies in the vote. But that's just my personal preference.

But as it is implemented now, the "accepted answer" has nothing to do with the voting. It was never designed to tell you which answer is best or even if the answer is correct. It is simply the answer that the original author found most useful in solving their problem.

So, unless you change what "accepted answer" means, being downvoted should have no bearing on its place at the top of the list.

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It'd still have the green checkbox next to it. – Andrew Grimm Oct 11 '11 at 22:23

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