There's this question on English Language & Usage.

When I visit it, while not being logged in to EL&U (but I am logged in to Stack Exchange and all other sites, if that matters), I see, that Erik Koval's answer is the top one for this question. When I log in and refresh / revisit this question, I can see clearly that Third News' answer is the top one.

What is happening or what am I missing? Is this an intentional feature? What is its purpose?

Note: I posted this question here, not on EL&U's meta, because I found this syndrome on many other sites before, and I have a feeling that it is happening on the entire Stack Exchange network.

Both questions have two votes (currently), and sorting is set to "votes" in my case, regardless of if I'm logged in:

Or not logged in:

  • 1
    You have a different sort order that the default one on answers, tied to your account? The default is votes what is yours?
    – Oded
    May 15, 2014 at 9:05
  • Nothing, that I'd be aware off. Certainly, I didn't changed any sort order intentionally and I'm 99,99% sure, that they remain default ones. BTW: On what could I sort them, if both have the same number of votes? On date?
    – trejder
    May 15, 2014 at 9:07
  • Easy enough for you to see. Go the the question. On the right, above the first answer, you should see the three options, one of which is bolded.
    – Oded
    May 15, 2014 at 9:15
  • 4
    If the top answers have the same score, they will get reordered randomly - this is by design.
    – Oded
    May 15, 2014 at 16:21
  • 1
    @Oded worth an answer, unless a dupe of this one maybe? May 15, 2014 at 21:49

1 Answer 1


When you change the sort order of answers from votes (the default) to active this is stored in a cookie against your account so it's remembered across visits.

When you view the site anonymously the site doesn't have access to this information so it displays the default.

For example, this is how the sort works for anonymous users:

default order by votes

  • Take a look at my above comment. I'm pretty sure, I haven't changed anything about sorting order on either this or any other SE sites, because I don't even have any idea, where such settings exists in my account! :]
    – trejder
    May 15, 2014 at 9:09
  • @trejder - It doesn't exist as a setting. It's remembered automatically when you change the sort order.
    – ChrisF Mod
    May 15, 2014 at 9:10
  • No. The thing is, that whether I'm logged-in or not, sorting is always set to "votes". See for yourself here and here. There must be something else going on here, I think.
    – trejder
    May 15, 2014 at 9:18

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