Currently, accepted answers are automatically put at the top when sorted by any criteria, unless it's by the OP.

If an accepted answer is wrong and has several more downvotes than the top-voted answer, please don't put it at the top of the list when sorting by votes.

Example: What does ||= (or-equals) mean in Ruby? has the accepted answer with +16 -8 = 8 net votes, and the top-voted answer with +15 -0 = 15 net votes.

Many users don't have access to the upvote/downvote count of a question, and therefore would have to read the comments (and comment upvotes) to know that something's amiss. Yes, they'd have to do the same if they read past the first top-voted answer and then read the wrong answer, but reading the right answer and then the wrong answer is better than the other way around.

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    First of all, to tell if an answer is right, try it. Secondly, where do you draw the line? How many votes?
    – Moshe
    Commented Oct 11, 2011 at 2:54
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    I think it's a good idea overall, but the loophole is that votes themselves don't necessarily denote correctness. Perhaps my answer was initially downvoted, then I later(maybe 24 hours) fixed it and OP liked it(and chose mine right afterward). I often change my answers based on comments I get. Commented Oct 11, 2011 at 3:11
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    Your example would be good and noteworthy and all, but the second-listed answer doesn't convince me, as it hardly seems to be an answer, as it links to a 403 Access Forbidden page as its reference, and leaves things open-ended. Commented Oct 11, 2011 at 4:09
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    Keep on downvoting till this gets -8! Commented Oct 11, 2011 at 4:14
  • See answers here, and also: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/178439/…
    – Shog9
    Commented Jul 18, 2013 at 23:35

2 Answers 2


Is an answer that receives 16 upvotes and 8 downvotes clearly worse than an answer that only receives 8 upvotes? Accepted answer only tells us that the answer helped the OP solve their problem. It doesn't necessarily mean it's the best approach or the most correct one.

As Adel mentioned in comments, downvotes also don't mean the answer isn't correct. All in all, this kind of feature would probably be too error-prone and unreliable.

You could probably make a case for not showing accepted answers with a negative score (say, below -4) at the top, but even then... just because an answer is downvoted, doesn't mean it can't or won't help the OP.

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    Although arguably, in this case the OP just didn't know better. They accepted the only answer there was, even if it was wrong at that time. For questions that ask "What does … mean?", there is no real problem that needed to be solved.
    – slhck
    Commented Oct 11, 2011 at 8:11
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    @slhck Granted, but that's a different problem that won't be solved by not putting downvoted accepted answers at the top. I'm also not convinced that's a widespread issue, but I'm not sure how to go about verifying that. Far as "what does ... mean?" questions go, the problem clearly is to find out the meaning of .... :) The answer that gives the best explanation is the one that solves it best.
    – Adam Lear StaffMod
    Commented Oct 11, 2011 at 11:23
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    Yes, but still, the main problem is that the OP accepted a wrong answer just because they didn't know it was wrong and at that time, and nobody mentioned that. Upvotes followed (I presume) because it was accepted. So, there is no "best" explanation really :)
    – slhck
    Commented Oct 11, 2011 at 12:13
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    @slhck Wrong answers being accepted is a whole different matter. It's really more of a people problem than a technology problem.
    – Adam Lear StaffMod
    Commented Oct 11, 2011 at 15:02
  • You are absolutely right about this - for the major part of questions, this doesn't even apply.
    – slhck
    Commented Oct 11, 2011 at 15:06

Personally, I would rather see the answers always sorted by votes, where the accepted answer (marked as such) is sorted to wherever it lies in the vote. But that's just my personal view.

But as it is implemented now, the "accepted answer" has nothing to do with the voting. It was never designed to tell you which answer is best or even if the answer is correct. It's easy to misunderstand that feature because of what the UI tells you, but the accepted answer is simply the answer that the original author found most useful in solving their problem.

So, unless you change what "accepted answer" means, being downvoted should have no bearing on its place at the top of the list.

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    It'd still have the green checkbox next to it. Commented Oct 11, 2011 at 22:23
  • What do we need to do to advance the "always sort by votes period" idea? It keeps coming up and would solve a lot of problems. We already do it if the OP wrote it, so why not simply and do it for everyone? Commented Jan 19, 2017 at 17:12
  • @MonicaCellio I've written and argued more about the problems (and solutions) surrounding 'accepted answers' than I can possibly recount. Unfortunately with my 0% success rate, I don't have a course of action to advise. Commented Jan 19, 2017 at 17:25

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