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I know that there have been some similar posts to this:

..but I feel that this question is a little different.

I recently looked up a question where the asker had accepted an answer that was passable, but really not that good. The community had upvoted the accepted answer four times, and had upvoted what I feel was the best answer 28 times. It seems to me that the community here is sending a pretty clear message to the system as to what the best answer is, even if it was not the accepted one. It seems to me that receiving 700% more upvotes than the accepted answer should imply to the system that the asker should reconsider what they accept.

Here is the question that brought this to my attention:
How to do a "git export" (like "svn export")

It seems there may be many ways of solving this, and I can see pluses and minuses to many of them.

  • SO could place a clear marker on the page that the accepted answer is not the one the community chose.
  • SO could create a new flag so that there is "Asker Accepted" and "Community Accepted" answer
  • if the most upvoted answer has significantly more votes than the accepted answer SO could put the most upvoted answer on top and then flag the user with some clear text explanation, etc.
  • SO could request that the asker reconsider their accepted answer the next time they log in.

Does anyone else feel like somehow solving this issue would improve SO?

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4  
Take note of the populist badge. –  dmckee Oct 2 '09 at 18:23

3 Answers 3

up vote 17 down vote accepted

Absolutely NOT. The accepted answer check mark goes to the answer that best helps the user (in theory). The only person who can accurately gauge that is the question asker themselves.

Any attempt to force the system to decide on its own what the best answer is is asking for trouble. The Community has just as much opportunity to be wrong as the OP. It is not exactly a rare occurrence for someone to post a quick answer, get several upvotes, and then the sheep mentality follows, with everyone else upvoting an already high voted answer without thinking about whether it is correct or not.

You do not need any type of visual indicator to say "Hey look, the community thinks THIS ONE is better". You can already do that just by looking at the vote numbers. You do not need any type of flag for this, and asking the OP to "reconsider" based upon the community's vote pattern, again, flies in the face of what the OP themselves have decided.

In the grand scheme of things, the check mark is not the end-all-be-all. It is an indicator that THAT particular answer was the best answer for THAT particular user. It does not mean "StackOverflow officially endorses this answer" when it comes to future users looking for answers to their own problems. That is why we allow for voting to send other answers up on the list. All a user has to do is scroll down slightly more and they can see all the rest of the answers and see if something was voted up much higher.

If a future user has a problem and the accepted answer doesn't help them, well then they can just look at the one that got voted up higher. If it helps them, awesome. But again, the check mark indicates which answer the OP decides is the best FOR THEM.

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3  
What an absolut edit. –  perbert Oct 2 '09 at 18:23
1  
@voyager: a_s_lut_ indeed. –  XMLbog Oct 2 '09 at 18:34
    
I have to admit that putting an accepted answer on this question really feels silly... but then TheTXI answered my question ;-) –  Aftermathew Oct 2 '09 at 19:44
    
It isn't really that simple. Perhaps I ask; get a few answers, select the one that best solves my problem and move on. Later much better answers come in, and get upvoted. Perhaps I'd have selected one of those, but I won't go back to an issue that is closed for me. So accepted is good (enough) + timely for OP, not necesarily very best. If you are interested, you'd have to read them all anyway ;-) –  vonbrand Mar 3 '13 at 4:20

The accepted answer is the one that worked for the OP. The highest upvoted answer is the best method. You would hope that these are the same answers, but there are a few cases were they are not. I can't find links to any atm, but I've seen a few cases where the highest upvoted answer actually did not work in the OP's situation.

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Yes, we should just leave the accepted answer to the community and not the original asker.

Just for the downvotes

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-1 Because I don't suffer a rep penalty downvoting you. –  TheTXI Oct 2 '09 at 18:24
    
Ask and you shall receive. –  Hilarious Comedy Pesto Oct 2 '09 at 18:36
    
+1. IN YOUR FACE!!! –  user27414 Oct 2 '09 at 18:53
    
@Pesto: would you give me a Million dollars? –  perbert Oct 2 '09 at 22:38

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