I just saw the banner on SO about "Here's how it works" claiming "The best answers are voted up and rise to the top".

That is how I feel it supposed to be, but this is not true.

Not the best answer rises to the top but the answer one person likes is fixed to the top. It does not matter if this answer is the worst possible or even simply wrong. If you look through old questions you will find many questions where the second answer has a lot more votes than the "top" answer. Often this answer is truly better than the accepted.

The top answer is not democratic but a small despotism of the OP. There has already been questions about that but still some people believe the OP is the only one facing a specific problem. While that might be true for the second he answer a question, it is officiously wrong on long term. People face the same problem will google it and up vote what works for them. OP does not know it better as them.

I am not claiming to have a solution but I think the issue should be addressed.

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    I don't necessarily agree that the accepted answer should be fixed to the top in all cases, but your premise that the best answers don't rise to the top is flawed. No where does it say that the best answer will be at the very top, all it says is "the best answers" that rise to the top, which they do. Feb 12, 2014 at 9:00
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    Simplifications are needed on banners. You can't put a whole "how voting works" help document on a banner.
    – Mołot
    Feb 12, 2014 at 10:11
  • @psubsee2003 - "Rise to the top" definitely implies that they will end up on the top to me. If it said "Rise towards the top" I could agree with your point. Feb 12, 2014 at 13:34
  • @MartinSmith the plural on "answers" is why I dispute that premise. You can only have 1 answer at the top of each post so you can have answers rising to the top and expect them all to at the very top. But grammatically using "to" as the preposition here probably is not ideal. Feb 12, 2014 at 13:37
  • @psubsee2003 - Well I took it that the answers being referred to weren't on the same question. i.e. that the claim is that the best answer on each question will rise to the top. Feb 12, 2014 at 13:41
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    @MartinSmith anytime you can interpret the same phrase to mean different things than the phrase is probably ambiguous :-) Feb 12, 2014 at 13:43

1 Answer 1


Well, the accepted answer is the only exception to the rule that the questions with the most upvotes go to the top (at least you don't change answer ordering to timestamp-based).

Normally it makes sense to put the accepted answer to the top, even if some other answer has slightly more upvotes, because it's the OP that usually can tell the best what has worked for him, and that voice should be taken into account.

However, I find it problematic too, that that voice has absolute precendence. I think that accepted answers should gain some advantage over others, but in more extreme cases, when some answer is obviously considered better, it should be displayed worse.

To not rediscover the America, I propose reusing the criteria for Populist badge:

Highest scoring answer that outscored an accepted answer with score of more than 10 by more than 2x

Please show answers outscoring an accepted answer by more than 2x, having score more that 10, above the accepted answer.

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