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There's a question I answered about a year after it was originally asked where my answer was a significant improvement on the accepted answer. There had been a feature change in the product in question after the accepted answer was written, so I wrote an improved answer about the new feature, while also giving credit to the accepted answer as being an option.

My answer has since gotten a decent number of up votes, and now has over three times the amount of the accepted answer. I'm sure the original questioner hasn't looked at it in a while, so would it be bad form to suggest they change the accepted answer to my own?

And if it wouldn't be bad form, what would be the most polite way to do so?

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  • 1
    You could just sit it out; there is a gold badge in it for you if you reach at least 23 upvotes vs. the accepted answer reaching 11 (and your answer still has at least double the upvotes by that time). Mar 11, 2014 at 17:03
  • @MartijnPieters - Interesting... but I'm more concerned with the best answer being at the top than getting a badge. Thanks for the heads up though.
    – kevinmicke
    Mar 11, 2014 at 17:19
  • Assuming the question was about getting Google to re-crawl a website and the original question was asked and answered over 2 years ago and your answer was posted over a year after that so not sure it is really fair to ask the OP to change the accepted answer since it sounds like the current accepted answer worked for him and he didn't check your method. stackoverflow.com/questions/9466360/…
    – Joe W
    Mar 11, 2014 at 20:55
  • @JoeW - That is the question I'm talking about, and the delay is a big part part of why I asked this question. As I was discussing with Richard Tingle on his answer below: does what helped the OP at the time outweigh what future people who find the question will want to see as the accepted answer?
    – kevinmicke
    Mar 11, 2014 at 23:53
  • I guess my point is that the accepted answer should be what helped the OP and if a better answer comes along a year later (as decided by voters) then there needs to be a different method of dealing with it. Need to leave the accepted answer mechanic alone so that the OP can mark the answer that helped him and figure a way to handle other highly upvoted answers. Just because the answer is better doesn't mean it helps the OP.
    – Joe W
    Mar 12, 2014 at 14:13
  • @JoeW - I certainly see your point. I think your thought about a different way of handling it might be really helpful, as there are some questions where I've seen a lesser answer keep getting upvoted just because it's the accepted one. I just actually ran into a perfect example when I was looking for something else: stackoverflow.com/questions/901115/…
    – kevinmicke
    Mar 12, 2014 at 21:44

3 Answers 3

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IMO, suggesting the OP to accept your own answer is bad form.

In the case that you know (and upvotes confirm) that your answer is better, I think the less invasive way is leaving a gentle comment in the Question asking what s/he thinks about your answer -or something along the lines. And I'd try to make this comment with intrinsic value that prevents it from being flagged as Not constructive or Too chatty.

It's nice when a third user makes the call for this kind of action.

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The original poster has the final say in which answer answered their question. They chose it because it did just that and that is the point of the site.

It doesn't matter if your answer gets more up-votes than the accepted answer, even if you (and the community) think your answer is the better one. That's what the voting system is for.

So, yes, I would say it is bad form. You are basically try to persuade the original poster that what answered their question, didn't really. It also comes off as selfish, in my opinion.

We're here to help everyone who visits the site, so just because you didn't answer that one person's question to the point in which they chose your answer, you likely have helped many other people, thus the up-votes in which you receive.

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I would say yes it is bad form, but with a but.

I would say it's impolite to tell people which answer to accept (it is their progative to accept whichever answer they want). However; if you've improved your answer considerably since it was originally posted it would be reasonable to inform the question OP of that. This makes sense as the OP is only notified when the answer is first posted it seems perfectly reasonable to inform them of those improvements. If they decide to swap the accept then so be it, if not then at least you tried.

Remember however that there is no reason the OP should accept the most upvoted. If they should that could be done automatically. The accepted answer is the one that helped the OP most, pure and simple

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  • I don't think he improved his own answer, I think he was saying that the answer he provided was an improvement over the accepted answer.
    – Cruncher
    Mar 11, 2014 at 17:54
  • @Cruncher That was my interpretation of "I'm sure the original questioner hasn't looked at it in a while" but it could be read both ways Mar 11, 2014 at 17:56
  • @Cruncher I've edited though to make it a little less dependant on that however Mar 11, 2014 at 17:58
  • @RichardTingle - Cruncher is right that's it's not my answer that was improved, but that it was an improvement over the original. I should also have provided the context that I'd answered much later than the accepted answer - I'll add that to the question.
    – kevinmicke
    Mar 11, 2014 at 18:23
  • @Kevin ah, in that case they'll have got a notification as to your new answer; after that it's up to them Mar 11, 2014 at 18:29
  • @RichardTingle Also, my understanding is that we're making a Q&A site where the answer at the top (the accepted answer) should generally be the one that will help the most people. In this case, the OP got an acceptable answer, but later the answer fundamentally changed because of a feature change in the product in question, so their accepted answer is now less helpful to everyone else. Does what helped the OP at the time outweigh what future people who find the question will want to see as the accepted answer?
    – kevinmicke
    Mar 11, 2014 at 18:33
  • @Kevin I personally don't like how much prominence the accepted answer gets, but that's a seperate issue Mar 11, 2014 at 18:36
  • @RichardTingle True. That probably is best left to separate question. Thanks.
    – kevinmicke
    Mar 11, 2014 at 18:49

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