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Sometimes you ask a question on Stack Overflow, or Server Fault, and I'm sure it will happen on Super User, that lends itself to multiple correct responses, like a list. Is there anything to handle such a thing? The situation I am thinking about is when the response would end up being a list and multiple people would add input, but there is more than one correct answer.

Is the proper thing to do for this type of question just not to award anyone a correct answer or award the correct answer the best answer? What happens if you award the correct answer and someone comes along latter with a better answer?

Example:
This is oversimplified to make the point but hopefully you get the idea.

Q: What is a good place to find information on programming?

A1: Stack Overflow (stackoverflow.com)

A2: MSDN (msdn.microsoft.com)

A3: Channel 9 (channel9.msdn.com)

Now obviously this question has a best answer, but the others are good too. I kind of had a hard time thinking of this example, but in the past this has bothered me. Maybe it really doesn't occur often enough to be an issue.

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Can you give an example of such a question? A link if you have one, otherwise just example text. –  John Saunders Jul 26 '09 at 15:26
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If you want examples, go to Super User. –  random Jul 26 '09 at 15:53
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4 Answers

Well, such questions are subjective and unbounded - you'll never have a single comprehensive answer, because someone can always show up later and add another item to the list.

So encourage that...

  1. Mark the question Community Wiki. This removes the reputation motivation for posting a new answer instead of editing existing answers.

  2. Include instructions in the question itself specifying that each answer should contain only one potential list item. Ask users to up-vote existing answers that they agree with rather than re-posting them.

  3. Don't ever accept a single answer.

  4. (optional) periodically sweep the list and compile answers into a list in the question itself.

Example: Where can I ask questions that aren’t programming questions?

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Experts exchange had this thing called "assisted answer". I feel it's a good idea. Sometimes someone has the answer and gets a lot of votes and then someone else has some additional information that isn't the complete answer but it's important too and it ends up down at the bottom.

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This is used in more places than just EE. I'm nervous about sorting all "assists" to the top, though. I'd prefer an link added to the margin of the accepted answer that jumped you down to any assists. –  Joel Coehoorn Jun 19 '10 at 17:07
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There are many technical problems that have multiple solutions.

In Excel VBA you can solve many problems in various ways. I would always accept the 'best' solution, though that may be subjective, but I'm glad the other solutions are there, since they may be useful in other ways. There was one question here about Windows Batch programming, where I accepted the 'best' answer, but had to actually use part of another.

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If the answers for your question are similar in the working solution, but just worded differently, you should accept the answer that reads best and most clear to you.

If the answers are all over the place, but they're all still somehow correct, then that looks like prime fodder for having it set as a wiki for other users of the site to engage in some polling action.

Good example would over at Super User, Free antivirus solutions for Windows. Along with the rest of the chafing "best of" and "must have" questions filling up the place, unless there's a lock down of the exact criteria in the question, there really can't be a correct solution. It can be so open-ended it gets messy.

Marking it community wiki opens it up for people to help better the answers for the good of all. But you will still find people levelling hard on the score and just not want to contribute when they can't get any rep for it.

If you accept an answer, but another comes along that you feel trumps the earlier one, you're well within the right to unaccept the first and award the green tick of happiness to the new answer.

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