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When sorting answers to questions it makes sense to sort accepted answers to the top when sorting by votes, but if I want to see the oldest or newest posts, the accepted status shouldn't matter.

Sure, I can look at the 'Answered X minutes ago' but if they were submitted very close, then you can't tell.

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(-1) I agree with TheTXI – devinb Jul 21 '09 at 16:29
up vote 7 down vote accepted

The idea is that the very first item you read (regardless of the sort order) should be the accepted answer. I imagine this is intentional by Atwood and company because when someone visits a question from google, they don't want to have to go through the whole "expert sex change" scroll to the bottom to find it problem.

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Well, I know why the accepted answer gets sorted to the top. But, if you tell it not to do that (i.e. choose some other sorting method) it should sort it the way to tell it too. – jjnguy Jul 21 '09 at 15:32
Defaulting to votes makes sense still. – jjnguy Jul 21 '09 at 15:32
@jjnguy: But there is no "accepted first" tab - there's no requirement that the accepted answer have the most votes, so even on the "votes" tab it's a special case. – Shog9 Jul 21 '09 at 15:54
@Shog, true, I guess it seems to fit on the votes tab. It is a sorting by score. Accepting an answer gives it infinite score. I guess that's how I think about it. – jjnguy Jul 21 '09 at 16:01

The accepted answer is considered anchored to the question. It is essentially a continuation of what the OP wrote.

When it is 'unanswered' there are different ways of ordering the 'possible answers' depending on how you want the information displayed. But you always want the Question displayed at the top, and the accepted Answer has become a part of that screen-section.

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Just as an edge-case; it seems to not apply this for self-accepted answers by the OP; example

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True - sort order is such a powerful mechanism for getting an answer views (and votes), so self-accepted answers don't get this benefit! – Jarrod Dixon Sep 1 '09 at 7:40
And sometimes I really hate the feature :)… – Jarrod Dixon Sep 1 '09 at 7:40

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