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Which answer do I accept if I have multiple correct answers?

Consider following situation. I post a question and log out from stackoverflow, login few hours later and I see two answers under my question and both of them seems to me equally correct. So which one should I mark as correct? Should I select the one posted earlier or just the one I have some "personal sympathy" for?

  • 2
    I hope no one reading this thinks that just because an answer on it is upvoted or accepted, that there is one, right way to make a choice on an accepted answer. People can only give you advice, but in the end you can choose however you want. No one has to agree with it, though if you're an ass about it, people will undoubtedly give you a lot of grief in comments. The bottom line is that you pick the best answer based on whatever criteria you decide. The only thing I intended to communicate in my answer is that correctness need not be the only criteria that you use.
    – tvanfosson
    Mar 13, 2012 at 17:53
  • Pick the one from the user with the best avatar, of course. But tvan is right - "accept" means only that you chose it, not that it's the best or even necessarily correct at all.
    – Shog9
    Mar 14, 2012 at 3:07

4 Answers 4


In general, this is the order of criteria I use to decide who gets the award (assuming there is at least one answer that actually / correctly answers the question):

  1. Most complete / comprehensive
  2. Earliest
  3. Person with the least rep currently

The reasoning behind this is that in the very rare circumstances where there are at least two equally good answers posted at the same time, the underdog gets the points. Ultimately, however, the answer quality is vastly more important and is the deciding factor in nearly all cases.

  • 7
    +1 for #3, and I'd add be sure to upvote them both.
    – user7116
    Mar 13, 2012 at 15:11
  • 2
    @sixlettervariables - Upvoting the answers you found helpful is a given (since that's what you should be doing anyways), but thanks for making that point more clear.
    – cdeszaq
    Mar 13, 2012 at 15:14
  • While I am sympathetic to encouraging new users, I'm not sure that I'd always accept #3 as the tie-breaker for acceptance. Once both users are past a certain point in rep(2K?), I don't think it really matters and, in fact, you could equally argue that you should reward the person who has demonstrated the most willingness/ability to help others rather than the reverse.
    – tvanfosson
    Mar 13, 2012 at 15:30
  • 1
    @tvanfosson - I agree that it doesn't always make sense to award the lower-rep user (depending on the rep range they fall in), but in general I like to boost lower users to encourage them to post more and also to get them closer to editing / community maintenance privileges. The more people maintaining the community, the better, and someone with a higher rep is likely to get their "on their own" faster anyways. Lastly, it's a very rare scenario, so it doesn't happen that much.
    – cdeszaq
    Mar 13, 2012 at 15:59

You should accept the answer that it helped you the most. Both the answers could say the same, but (for example) one could give some reference links, report a code snippet, or use a language that is clearer to you.

If you are not able to decide which one is better, you can base your decision on the votes given to both the answers, and choose the one that has been up-voted more times.
As you said that you logged in few hours later, I would rather wait before accepting any answer; it could be the answers are further up-voted, or somebody else can write an answer that is even better than the existing ones. There isn't a timeout for accepting an answer. I personally prefer to wait at least one day before accepting an answer; if the question didn't get enough answers in that period of time, I could also wait longer before accepting one.

  • Thanks for advice, I didn't consider upvotes for making my mind:-) Mar 13, 2012 at 15:03
  • i too disagree with the most up-votes thinking. rest of it sounds good.
    – MozenRath
    Mar 13, 2012 at 16:24

It doesn't matter, if they both solve the problem equally, just make a decision.

It's often the case that equally correct answers have variations, such as one might come with an actual explanation, one might link to documentation, all might go about it a slightly different way but get to the same point - in this scenario, read them and decide which comes across most concisely informative and select it.

What the devil is sympathy?


If the answers aren't identical, go with the one that you think is better. Better may mean more easily read, better documented, etc., as well as more correct. If they are identical, choose whatever criteria you think is appropriate for making the choice.

  • 1
    this ain't an answer
    – MozenRath
    Mar 13, 2012 at 16:25
  • While you have some logical advice, you leave the OP with the same problem... how to determine which one to choose!
    – cdeszaq
    Mar 13, 2012 at 17:02
  • I prefer to think of it as giving the OP the freedom to choose whatever criteria they want rather than being prescriptive. There really is no one, right answer to this and advice is really all that is appropriate.
    – tvanfosson
    Mar 13, 2012 at 17:46
  • I agree in general, but in this case, the OP is looking for a prescription for how to handle the situation.
    – cdeszaq
    Mar 14, 2012 at 15:07

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