Yes, there is around what a person can do when there is a blatantly accepted wrong answer:

And so on.

However, I couldn't find a formal , so here it goes.

It sprung from a question on Database Administrators:

Why use both TRUNCATE and DROP?

Note that the accepted answer is commented on multiple times, and is blatantly wrong (and is proven so empirically). It's currently being downvoted, which is fine, but it really shouldn't be at the top of the page because it is an accepted answer.

The Proposal:

  • Allow moderators to remove the accepted flag from the answer which has been empirically proven to be incorrect
  • Moderators must provide a comment and a reference to an answer for the same question (in the form of a link) proving that the answer is incorrect. This provides accountability and would be made visible to other moderators and possibly high-rep users in some fashion
  • The user that accepted the answer may not re-accept the answer as "the answer" unless there is an edit to the answer

Some things of note:

  • The moderator doesn't have the ability to specify another answer as correct
  • Yes, people can edit the answer, but one of the tenants of SO is that you maintain the intent of the original post; if the answer is blatantly wrong, changing it to be right violates this and constitutes a bad edit, IMO

It's been suggested that the answer bit is just a flag for the original poster to help them remember what helped them (emphasis mine), but that's not completely correct.

The answer bit does serve that purpose, but not only that purpose. It places the answer at the top of the page. This in turn affects SEO (given that it is higher in the page). Additionally, if another person comes across the page through an organic search and then goes with the accepted wrong answer and then experience a setback because of it, that impacts their impression of the site and it's ability to deliver information that is of benefit to them.

If that wasn't the case, then organic search wouldn't be a priority for the site (which it most definitely is).

It's also been suggested that the user change the default ordering to affect the order of the answers to find the "right" answer.

There are two reasons that this doesn't work.

First, Google gets the default ordering for indexing, so it doesn't solve the SEO issue.

Second, first-time users of Stack Overflow are given the default ordering, and seeing the big green checkbox is an instant indicator to them that it's the "right" answer, and don't bother doing the research to make sure it's right. Sure, it's easy to say "well, they want to shoot their foot off, let them" but that's fairly harsh considering the mandate of SO.

ChrisF indicated in the comments that a moderator can delete a post outright. Yes, this does solve the problem, but I think this is more egregious than removing the tick. More often than not, posts with low/negative votes serve as a bellwether showing what not to do.

Open Questions

  • What kind of edit needs to be performed before the answer can be re-accepted? A significant edit by the original poster? An edit by someone else? I don't like the latter, given that an edit by a user other than the one who answered the question would have to change the intent of the post, which violates a fundamental tenant of SO.
  • Impact of reputation on the answer that is unticked
  • 1
    obvious Stack Overflow moderator candidate is obvious. Nov 9, 2011 at 14:27
  • 5
    Moderators do have the ability to delete the accepted answer, thus removing the problem all together ;)
    – ChrisF Mod
    Nov 9, 2011 at 14:32
  • @yoda: Not denying it. At the same time, if being a up for a moderator position promotes my contributions here and on the main site, then why would you turn that away? Even without this post, I still have more contribution on Meta than other candidates. Obvious troll is obvious
    – casperOne
    Nov 9, 2011 at 14:51
  • 1
    @ChrisF: This did occur to me, but I think that's more egregious than removing the tick. Additionally, posts with low/negative votes actually serve as a bellwether for what not to do which I believe is just as important as being given a good example of what to do. Updated post accordingly.
    – casperOne
    Nov 9, 2011 at 14:53
  • You've misconstrued what I said. I never said that accepting an answer is to "help the asker remember what helped them".
    – ale
    Nov 9, 2011 at 15:16
  • @AlEverett: Yes, I did, apologies, but others are suggesting that as well, and I've addressed this in other comments. (curious why this wasn't a comment to your own answer though).
    – casperOne
    Nov 9, 2011 at 15:27

4 Answers 4


It is not a moderators job to judge the accuracy of an answer! Moderators clean up non-answers, they don't decide whether an answer is right or wrong. Votes and comments are the intended means to judge the value of an answer.

I think it would be a bad idea to have moderators judge the correctness of an answer, we just don't have the expertise to judge all content on one site. The responsibility for that rests firmly in the hands of the community.

If you want to improve the situation in such cases, I think a better idea would be to change the default ordering and not show the accepted answer on top if it is below a certain vote threshold.

  • 3
    The proposal was not for the moderator to judge the accuracy of the answer, it is to correct a wrong when presented with empirical evidence that the answer is wrong. The moderator is not serving as a judge in this capacity, it is correcting something that is wrong. There is no judgement whatsoever. Updated the question to address the default ordering issue.
    – casperOne
    Nov 9, 2011 at 14:17
  • 4
    So who is the final authority on what constitutes adequate empirical evidence? The moderator still has to make the decision whether the presented evidence is sufficient to remove the accepted mark, that is pretty much the definition of a judge. Nov 9, 2011 at 14:23
  • 2
    By definition, empirical evidence isn't adequate or inadequate, it is evidence that can be directly observed; if the answer gives a method that can produce results that can be directly observed which prove the blatant inaccuracy of the answer, then the moderator's opinion doesn't come into the equation at all.
    – casperOne
    Nov 9, 2011 at 14:34
  • @casperOne: What if the answer is factually incorrect but leads the OP to the correct answer? It's still helpful. The community can up-/down-vote the answer based on its quality/correctness/value/etc. But the OP, as a separate action, can accept the answer as the one which was the most helpful to his particular situation. Comments should be left to assist the quality of the answer, corrections should be made as edits to the answer, but the act of accepting it is entirely subjective to the OP.
    – David
    Nov 9, 2011 at 15:09
  • 3
    @casperOne How would a moderator unfamiliar with, say, the programming language or environment be able to review this empirical evidence? Who would provide it at a sufficient level of detail?
    – Adam Lear StaffMod
    Nov 9, 2011 at 15:11
  • 2
    @Anna Lear: It's not recommended that all moderators act on all accepted answers; just like any of the other systems in place (flags, accepted edits) the moderator should only contribute in the area that they know they have the ability to do so. For example, I don't work on suggested edits for the php tag, but I gladly will for the c# and .net tags.
    – casperOne
    Nov 9, 2011 at 15:15
  • @casperOne Depending on the site, it may not be possible to get a set of moderators who cover every aspect of required expertise. This still leaves my last question: who would provide sufficiently detailed empirical evidence?
    – Adam Lear StaffMod
    Nov 9, 2011 at 15:18
  • 2
    @David: That's an objective evaluation that no mechanism, votes, accepted answers or otherwise can determine. The problem is the tight linkage the accepted state has with it's impact on SEO, position in relation to other answers, etc.; it's a hammer that forces the answer to the top (depending on the view) and has more of an impact than simply serving as a reminder or tick for what one person found most useful to their problem. This runs antithetical to the goal of SO trying to be a useful resource to all.
    – casperOne
    Nov 9, 2011 at 15:21
  • 1
    @AnnaLear: In the specific example I presented, there were other answers which provided it. I believe it should come primarily from other answers. If there is another answer for the question which refutes it in an absolute and empirical way, then so be it. I've updated the feature request to include that restriction. It should not be the job of the moderator to seek out contrary answers, just to rectify the situation when presented to them.
    – casperOne
    Nov 9, 2011 at 15:23

I don't think it's a good idea.

The "accepted" bit is just for the original asker to indicate, to others, the answer that helped him/her the most.

If it's wrong, downvote it. If it's downvoted into oblivion, any future readers with half a brain will hesitate before trying to duplicate the solution. For me, anyway, it'll just reinforce the idea that the original asker didn't know what he wanted or what he was doing, and hasn't yet learned.

To me the system is working as designed.

  • 5
    I respectfully disagree; the accepted bit serves much more than what you state; it pushes the answer to the top and that has an impact on SEO. It affects those that land on the page through an organic search and directs them to an incorrect conclusion, which impacts their impression of the site. Updating my question to reflect this.
    – casperOne
    Nov 9, 2011 at 14:10
  • 2
    Downvoting wrong but popular answers may very well not have much of an effect, because most users who arrive at the question by definition don't quite know how to answer it, and likely can't tell that the most popular answer is in fact wrong, and will upvote it. Here's an example. Mar 6, 2014 at 8:02

Oh man, can you imagine the meta storm that would ensue?

A moderator removed my accepted answer flag AND I LOST 15 REP! Revoke his diamond! Ban him from having a diamond ever again! Especially in cards games!

Now, whilst I agree moderators are human exception handlers and sometimes something is very, very wrong, it is not the job of moderators to make any decisions on the technical accuracy of an answer except with their own votes. Really. And I am a moderator on crypto, where technical accuracy is pretty much paramount. The community should be deciding, through votes, that the answer is not to be trusted. That's the whole point of the reputation system - it's how much the community trusts you.

I realise the community cannot remove the green tick. I don't see that as too much of a problem - I personally, and I think others do, look at the votes and any comments. If it can succinctly (and politely, of course) be pointed out that an answer is wrong in a comment, then you should do so, but that also has its pitfalls and really needs to be handled with care.

Moderators do what the community can not - delete spam, stop post-abuse/edit wars/users behaving badly, respond to flags indicating trouble. The community is more than capable of downvoting an accepted answer and there is even a populist badge for outscoring an accepted answer under certain conditions.

  • First, see my comment on Fabian's answer regarding moderators judging the accuracy of an answer. Also, I left the impact on reputation open (updated question appropriately). Also, respectfully, disprove your own point with the statements "I realise (sp) the community cannot remove the green tick" and "moderators do what the community cannot". Finally, the badge and downvotes don't solve the SEO impact of having the wrong answer at the top.
    – casperOne
    Nov 9, 2011 at 14:31
  • @casperOne I take your point - neither moderators nor the community can touch the tick - just the OP and that puts the SEO aspect in potential jeopardy. I still don't think giving moderators that power is a good move. I could possibly get behind some form of community-based consensus, such as lowering the accepted answer below other answers if it receives -5 net votes or something, but even that has abuse-potential and still requires the community to vote. In fact, I'm not sure, but does SE serve -3 and lower content to search engines? That's another possible fix.
    – user142852
    Nov 9, 2011 at 14:40
  • In short, I'd much, much rather leave the content judgement in the hands of the community.
    – user142852
    Nov 9, 2011 at 14:42
  • How is this different than a moderator being able to delete questions, answers, posts? Those are powers which can be abused and the moderator can enact without leaving it in the hands of the community. The green check is not sacrosanct, it's simply a state that affects the system, mostly positive, but in some cases, negative, and one of the responsibilities of moderators is to counteract the negative impact of certain state changes in the system. This proposal simply enables them to do more with that for the betterment of the system as a whole.
    – casperOne
    Nov 9, 2011 at 14:47
  • 3
    Simple - it's a little like voting, except that it's a vote only the OP can cast. We can't alter the votes in the system, nor see who has voted on an individual post. It's a slightly less drastic version of moderators being able to set the vote score on a post just to correct the community. Now, again, as ChrisF says, we could just outright delete it - except that our actions in doing so are a) visible to 10k+ users and b) logged. There's some transparency there; altering a posts' accepted answer could potentially be very non-transparent.
    – user142852
    Nov 9, 2011 at 15:00
  • The original proposal covers transparency (although I'll flesh it out more if you want). As for a vote that only the OP can cast, I get that, but the impact of that "vote" is much more than a typical vote; the fact that it raises the answer above all others (which affects the page and system as a whole) give that single "vote" much more power than any other vote (which can be washed away in the aggregate score).
    – casperOne
    Nov 9, 2011 at 15:13
  • Which brings us around full circle :) I'd be able to possibly get behind a community way to water down the effects of the green tick, by voting, but really the OP really needs to be constructively persuaded to change the post he puts the green tick on, as has happened on your example question. I'm not for moderators interfering directly in that process at all. Of course, any fallout (abusive behaviour, uncivil comments) that arise from the discussion we should handle, but the resolution process needs to be community driven.
    – user142852
    Nov 9, 2011 at 15:38
  • If there is a separation of the tick properties, then I can get behind that as well, and that marks the entire proposal as moot. I have a feeling I'll be cannibalized shortly for the next proposal/discussion....
    – casperOne
    Nov 9, 2011 at 16:05

Yes, this does solve the problem, but I think this is more egregious than removing the tick.

Damn right it's more egregious. If the answer isn't * embarrassingly bad*, moderators shouldn't be doing anything at all - and if it is, removing the checkmark without removing the answer entirely is just doing the job half-way.

Since deletion solves the problem, this is effectively status-completed.

  • Oh hush. I wrote this just to get some meta cred before the election. It's served it's purpose =)
    – casperOne
    Jan 26, 2012 at 20:35
  • What if the answer isn't either embarrassingly bad, but just factually wrong? Mar 6, 2014 at 8:03

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