I've just answered this question about copying arrays in Java. Approximately half an hour later someone else piped up with what was essentially a complete clone of my answer even down to formatting and layout. The irony. And their answer ended up being accepted!

Leaving aside that I am clearly more enraged by this behaviour than a balanced and normal person should be, is it "the done thing" to request of the OP a justification for why he has accepted the other answer (which even has less community votes)? Or is this bad SO manners?

2 Answers 2


I think the general standard is to accept the best, earliest answer. That means that the earliest answer is generally accepted from several duplicate answers.

That being said, if someone posts an answer that is better then that trumps post order. They may do that by posting what someone else did plus some more. It might be the same info but includes links and/or a code sample. But what constitutes "best" is subjective.

Note that longer doesn't necessarily mean better, a mistake sometimes made by newbie "answerers". Sometimes the best answer is the shortest and to the point answer. Often when it comes to writing length, Blaise Pascall is quoted:

I made this letter longer than usual because I lack the time to make it short.

It might be over-quoted but it's true.

As for what you do as the answerer when your answer is selected... simple: you do nothing. You have no right to the accepted answer. You could ask why but its hard for such a question not to be viewed as sour grapes.

There are many reasons people accept answers. They include:

  • first answer;
  • last answer;
  • first answer they see they like (random);
  • highest rep;
  • lowest rep;
  • longest answer;
  • shortest answer;
  • and so on.

You just can't take it personally.

  • I know you're right. This irked me particularly as it seemed as though the additional bit of information provided in the accepted answer was basically tacked on to a complete copy of my answer. So it felt a bit like a dirty trick! Commented Sep 2, 2009 at 11:17

May have been essentially the same, but the comment from the asker sounds off on it being a meatier sanga.

I accepted the answer of Stephen as he additionally addressed the performance part of the question. - desolat

Compare two technically correct answers, but one has a reasoning/explanation/caveat to how or what or why it works, wouldn't you want to go with the latter?

Entirely within the spirit of the game.

On asking or wanting to know why they selected one answer over another, it really depends on how you go about phrasing the query that determines if it's bad manners or not. If you're all adamant that yours should have been selected based on time alone, then that could be seen as bad manners.

If it's a gentle, wondering what set them apart type of qomment, then that's totally cool and helps others out on what some users see as criteria for the "best answer" tick of green good upwardness.

  • +1 "Entirely within the spirit of the game". Exactly. Commented Sep 2, 2009 at 8:48
  • But they only responded because someone commented on my answer. So my question (here) still stands: would it have been fair of me to request a reason why they had accepted someone else's answer or would that have been rude of me? Commented Sep 2, 2009 at 8:56
  • Not rude on wanting to know. Just have to word it in a way that isn't having a go at the asker for picking someone else's answer over yours. Clarification can really only be a good and helpful thing to everyone involved.
    – random
    Commented Sep 2, 2009 at 9:05

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