Over on http://english.stackexchange.com, I created a question that contained unintentionally polarizing subjectivity. Because of this, I am now faced with the possibility of siding with a single answer instead of my desired goal: to promote both answers equally, because both contain useful, topic-relevant, pithy information that answers the question completely.

I would prefer not to leave the question without an accepted answer for reasons obvious to those familiar with the reputation and sorting systems here on StackExchange. But at the same time, I feel leery about creating my own answer pointing to theirs and selecting it as accepted, as this may siphon reputation away from the authors I wish to promote and earn me badges that are inappropriate to the situation.


Before I continue, I note that candidate solutions to this scenario are discussed here: Why Isn't There a Way to Consolidate Answers?

However, I feel that this linked question is incomplete and that following up on my candidate solution is necessary, for an excellent point raised by Mike Grace in his answer:

I have been contemplating this same thing recently. I plan on accepting the answer that most completely or clearly answers the question but also inserting at the end of my question a section where I outline all of the parts of the answers that I found most helpful with each users name. I disagree that the person that asks the question should compile all of the answers together into their own and then choose their own. If everyone started doing that, the motivation to answer question well and completely would be partially lost.

In which I agree and note that his solution is inapplicable when two or more authors provide the same degree of information content, such that selecting one over the other as accepted implies favoritism when none is being deliberately expressed.

So, I return to my original question: is creating a summary answer and accepting it, as OP, considered bad practice? It seems like the most correct thing to do in this scenario, despite the flaws discussed above.

(Note this is not a question asking for the possibility of supporting multiple accepted answers or splitting bounty reputation amongst multiple parties responsible for pieces of the solution, as discussed here and here. This is purely a question about best practices borne from the existing tools currently available for a limited portion of the problem space.)

  • 2
    Accept one and award the other a bounty, and creating a summary answer is OK.
    – ChrisF Mod
    Oct 7, 2011 at 21:54
  • @ChrisF Beautiful solution. Thank you.
    – MrGomez
    Oct 7, 2011 at 21:56
  • 3
    Keep in mind that the checkmark does not designate that any single answer is correct. All the checkmark does is indicate which answer was most helpful to the OP.
    – user102937
    Oct 7, 2011 at 23:14
  • I note that while the solution posited by ChrisF would have theoretically worked in this case, it seems to only be applicable to two mutually balanced answers. Does this solution scale to three or more answers if the OP is feeling charitable with reputation?
    – MrGomez
    Oct 8, 2011 at 0:14
  • 1
    The proof of the pudding will be in the eating. Other people can upvote any one, two, or all three of the answers. Unless they add comments saying so, we can't know how many if any people actually upvote both "real" answers and/or OP's synthesis. But if the synthesis doesn't get many upvotes, OP might just as well have communicated his preference either by editing the question, or adding his own comment(s) where appropriate. I don't think OP's action is particularly "bad practice", but I'm dubious as to its merits - thus far, at least. Oct 8, 2011 at 0:34


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