This question already has an answer here:
Currently the answers are sorted by votes and the accepted answer is docked at top. The intended design is to "get your answer quickly". This does work well in most cases.
If I have a problem and search for a solution on Stackoverflow I often find questions where the accepted answer is wrong or not the best solution. Mostly, in this case the community up voted a not accepted answer far more often than the accepted one but still the accepted answer remains on the top. If the accepted answer is long the user might not even see that there is a better answer without scrolling. This problem accrues mainly at old question which people found by Google.
Everybody needs to waste time, trying the wrong answer first.
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Also note that order is correct as soon as the accepted answer has negative votes like here: How can I change a file's extension using PHP?
Why do I think this is a problem and you may not?
After many comments, up and down votes I feel the need to explain a key point:
Perhaps we don't agree it is a problem at all? I don't think the problem is prevalent enough to make warrant special-casing.
If you visit Stackoverflow regularly, answer questions, helping people this is not a problem for you at all. Why? Because you are mainly dealing with new questions. Those questions have a low vote count and the voters do not have the same problem. There are voting based on theory what they think is right. The OP clearly does know it better and is very likely accepting the right answer.
But 90% of the people are using SO like this: They have problem, google it, find a matching question and try the answers in order. If an answer does work, they might up vote this answer. So after some time the most votes come from people with the same problem and the accepted answer might not be the one the community liked. Still, every user has to try the accepted answer first.
I don't know the hit count on Stackoverflow but if I look at some questions counter I guess each day thousand of people wasting time because of this.
Yes, the community can be wrong, too. But who is more likely to be wrong: The OP or 10 other users with the same problem?
Why is the wrong answer accepted?
- The question is abandoned or not maintained (even if you visit this page regularly you might not check for every old question if a new answer solves it better).
- The owner does not agree with the community.
- There are multiple solutions and the owner has a rare case.
The problem is not new and there have been made several (high voted) proposals to solve this:
- Would it be possible to have a "community accepted" feature?
- Force Accepted Answers on Questions by Inactive Users
- Shouldn't the answer with more votes be above the accepted answer?
- How can I configure answers to be sorted by votes instead of prioritizing the accepted answer?
- Sort answer with most votes over accepted answer
So far, all offered solutions have been rejected while the problem still exists.
How should this be solved?