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A better answer was posted long after accepting another. Should I accept the new one?

If a question is something without an absolute answer, for example "what's the best practice?", if an answer is accepted and better replies or a reply that discredits the accepted one, should the correct answer be unaccepted? Is there a penalty for doing so?

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marked as duplicate by Josh Caswell, Al E., ChrisF, Daniel Fischer, Pops Jul 18 '12 at 14:51

This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question.

Sounds like it should be closed as "not constructive" by current standards... –  Mysticial Jul 17 '12 at 18:31
@Mysticial not really. I'm talking about questions like this stackoverflow.com/questions/4696499/… in the sense that it's not just fixing a particular problem. –  Celeritas Jul 17 '12 at 18:34
See How does accepting an answer work? You may change which answer is accepted, or simply un-accept the answer, at any time. You do loose the 2 rep if you un-accept and not accept a new answer, or accept a self-answer instead. –  Martijn Pieters Jul 17 '12 at 18:44
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1 Answer

up vote 9 down vote accepted

Assuming it's a constructive question, if you've already accepted an answer and a new answer comes along that does an even better job at solving your problem, why wouldn't you accept the new answer?

The design even allows for that. If it wasn't "allowed" then why can you "unaccept" an answer? (It's not an oversight, either; note that your vote gets locked in after a few minutes. The management is up on the idea of not allowing gamesmanship by reversing some decisions.)

The only penalty is that the person with the answer that was originally accepted will lose the 15 reputation points they'd gained from having it accepted. There's no penalty to the question asker (except, perhaps, a bit of enmity from the person whose answer they originally accepted).

Ultimately, it's all on the original question asker. Only that person can decide if an answer solved the problem (or even if any answer solved it).

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There is, I believe, a penalty if you unaccept an answer that is not your own answer, then accept an answer that is. You are awarded rep points for accepting an answer only if it wasn't a self-answer. –  Martijn Pieters Jul 17 '12 at 18:43
I don't see how that's a penalty. If the originally accepted answer was yours you don't receive any reputation points either. –  Al E. Jul 17 '12 at 18:44
Perhaps not a 'penalty', but you do loose the 2 rep you gained from accepting an answer that isn't a self-answer before. –  Martijn Pieters Jul 17 '12 at 18:45
@MartijnPieters Nonetheless, it's far better overall for someone to accept a self-answer that really answers the question than a poor answer from someone else. Overall, we need good answers that have actually helped someone. –  Donal Fellows Jul 17 '12 at 20:38
@DonalFellows: I am absolutely not disputing that; I was merely pointing out that reputation could theoretically be lost, something some people see as a penalty. Just stating the facts, in other words. –  Martijn Pieters Jul 17 '12 at 21:15
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