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I get frustrated when I see a question that I can answer, but the question has been already been answered wrongly by somebody else, and that wrong answer has been accepted. Usually this has all happened within a day of the question being posted. Many questioners seem to immediately accept the first answer they get, which encourages fast-but-sloppy answers over right ones.

My proposed solution is to prevent any answer from being accepted until either (a) several days have passed, (b) several answers (from different users!) have been posted, or (c) a single answer has received a number of up-votes.

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As this is tagged [discussion], not [feature-request], it might not be a duplicate of Discourage questions being marked as answered within an hour or so of being posted? Still that has some background info about the current 15 minute waiting period. –  Arjan Dec 20 '10 at 0:09

3 Answers 3

I disagree.

a) If several days pass, even the most thorough users may easily forget to accept the answer.

b) Several answers may never be posted. There are questions for which there aren't so many people who know the answer.

c) Single answer has received upvotes - same reasoning as with (b) May never be upvoted. Both asker and all the answerers may be brand new users who don't have the voting right yet. Or it may be a not so interesting topic.

The accepted status is based only on judgment of the asker. If they make wrong decision, we can't and shouldn't do anything about it. It's their call. And if another answer was indeed better, it will reflect in the vote count.

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I accept the problems with (b) and (c), this is why a time-based option is also necessary. As for the asker forgetting to accept any answer... isn't this better than accepting a poor answer? –  Neil Bartlett Dec 20 '10 at 0:15
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As I understand, a time limit already exists - it is 15 minutes. If some users can't accept a legitimate good answer for days then they are being punished for laziness of other users who accept answers too eagerly. "Eager acceptors" (let's call them that) would still ask questions and in this case most likely forget to accept the answer, and the rest of us would get stuck with this silly rule. –  Goran Jovic Dec 20 '10 at 0:23
    
Thanks, I wasn't aware of the 15 minute waiting period. I guess that I would like to see a longer period because I mostly follow more specialised topics that do not have lots of rapid answers. I.e. in some topics, answers received within a day are fast, and 15 minutes simply wouldn't happen.... –  Neil Bartlett Dec 20 '10 at 0:58

Don't worry so much about what answer's been accepted. "Accepted" means only accepted by the asker as most useful to him or her. There's another category of answers, useful to the general readership of SO, otherwise known as answers with a large number of upvotes. If you care, you can get more points that way, and even a badge.

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I agree that the meaning of the "accepted" tick is not well understood. –  Michael Petrotta Dec 20 '10 at 0:16
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Regardless of what accepted means inside the site, to an external observer the green checkmark and word accepted means "right, according to SO." Like it or not, when a user accepts an answer, they are putting that information out there that "the correct answer to this question is the following.. WITH THE GREEN CHECKMARK" –  bobobobo Dec 20 '10 at 0:34
    
@bobobobo: I agree that that's the perception. Let's address that. –  Michael Petrotta Dec 20 '10 at 0:36

What are the sort rules? Is the accepted answer always listed first? Perhaps the perception that the accepted answer is the correct one could be reduced by ignoring acceptance for sort purposes, or just treating it as a one or two vote bump.

Or perhaps accepted answers could sort first unless they have received one or more down-votes, in which case they lose their special status.

Or perhaps users could be notified somehow if an answer they have accepted gets down-voted? So if someone accepts an answer and then a few hours or days later a more experienced person arrives, sees that the answer is wrong and down-votes it, then the original questioner will be prompted to look again.

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