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Sometimes I get a good answer and accept it, but the someone else posts a brilliant answer. I of course upvote it, but I avoid changing my accepted answer in most situations, since I feel it might be a bit frowned upon, so to speak.

Is it "bad practice" (for lack of a better term) to accept a different answer after you've already accepted an answer?

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marked as duplicate by Martijn Pieters, Hugo Dozois, Lukasz, hims056, Flyk Feb 22 at 21:31

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.

As an aside, if you do change your accepted answer and it's been a while since the original answer, you may want to consider leaving a comment to the person that had the previously selected answer... They may be interested in the improved version / curious which of their answers was unaccepted (there are occasional posts about this on meta)... of course they may not care, it's all rather subjective :) –  forsvarir Jun 6 '11 at 12:41

4 Answers 4

up vote 30 down vote accepted

If the new answer is better, yes you should re-accept.

The accepted answer is the answer that suits your needs the best.

Edit Some people accept the first answer and never touch the question again which is a shame because better answers are disregarded and it leads to frustration by the answering parties. So I should wait some time to accept and frequently visit the question for updates. First to get the best response for yourself. But more important, to leave a legacy for other users who have the same question.

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It's tempting for me to accept your answer, then when someone else posts something, accept their answer. :P –  Mehrdad Jun 6 '11 at 6:19
@Mehrdad, lol, I wouldn't mind if the other answer is better. –  Toon Krijthe Jun 6 '11 at 6:25
"frustration by the answering parties" - I don't think this is much of a consideration: there's likelihood of annoyance by the unaccepted answerer, and little expectation by new answerers of having the accepted mark moved because it is fairly rare to do this. The only reason to change is that it makes the Q&A thread better. –  Charles Stewart Jun 6 '11 at 11:44
+1 I'm with Gamecat, I try and wait at least a day to accept an answer (unless a brilliantly correct one is posted quickly). –  user7116 Jun 6 '11 at 13:56

Accept the best answer, even if that means un-accepting the previous.

Of course, using some common sense, also (for example, it happened to me twice already that a user went back and forth several times accepting one answer or the other, and that becomes really annoying). My advise is that you should take some time to decide which is the best answer, and act accordingly. If it is a well-thought action, then it's quite improbable that you will want to revert it again.

As a side note, I always wait a little bit before accepting any answer. I may have up-voted the answers soon after reading them, but there's always time for accepting it. Taking one day or so may avoid the need to re-accepting it later.

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The FAQ says, "When you have decided which answer is the most helpful to you, mark it as the accepted answer".

For me, accepting an answer is not about which answer is the best, it's about which one is the most helpful, which is going to depend on the question. If you ask a question and somebody solves it straight away with a concise solution then it may be the most helpful to you, because it allows you to get past your current problem with the least amount of time wasted. If somebody comes and answers the question later with a more detailed explanation, covering some more of the ins and outs, this may be a better answer. But is it more helpful to you? Maybe, if it tells you something critical you didn’t already know/consider, but maybe not because you already knew some of the extra detail and your problem is already solved.

The community vote should indicate the best answer / most helpful in the general case. The accepted answer should indicate what was most helpful to the person asking the question (which is why we sometimes end up with crazy situations like accepted answers with negative scores). Only you can decide if the later brilliant answer helped you more than the early good answer...

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A lot of people forget that all acceptance means is "this answer helped me the most". –  ChrisF Jun 6 '11 at 9:44
I've never asked a question on SO, but if I did, one part of "helping me" by answering it would be "leaving a great answer in place for the next person" and therefore the "best" answer for posterity could also be the one that "helped me the most". Timeliness gets you all the upvotes but I don't see why it should necessarily mean you deserve the tick too. –  Kate Gregory Jun 6 '11 at 11:57
@Kate Gregory: I'm not saying that should shouldn't change your vote, simply that the decision should be based on what's helped you most (which in your case may be the longest living answer), not what's the best for posterity answer. Over time, the theory goes that the best answer will eventually rise above the fastest answer, if it is sufficiently good. But for a specific question, the fastest may be the most useful. For more subjective / more informative / I need help with questions there may be a close tie up between the OPs most helpful and the communities best answers. –  forsvarir Jun 6 '11 at 12:07
looks like we agree that "it depends" and it can't be automated. The asker gets to choose, and can change their mind over time. For most people, a significantly later answer won't help more, but for some people (and some answers), it will. –  Kate Gregory Jun 6 '11 at 12:11

Lots of good advice in this two+ year-old thread. The take-away for me is this: if Becky, the question originator, selects answer A, answer B is posted later, and she concludes she would have selected B had it been posted before she made her selection, she should either leave her selection of A unchanged and post an explanatory comment to answer B or switch her best answer selection to B and post a comment to answer A.

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