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Why does acceptance of an answer not imply an upvote? Surely if you are accepting an answer you are also implying that it is useful? What is the point of having two separate actions? I don't get it.

From Stack Overflow Help:

https://stackoverflow.com/help/accepted-answer

When a user receives a good answer to his or her question, that user has the option to "accept" an answer.

https://stackoverflow.com/help/someone-answers

Vote up answers that are helpful and well-researched, and vote down answers that are not

Stack Overflow's own help site references a helpful answer as one that is accepted? Does "good" = "helpful" in the context of an answer?

  • Useful for you as OP, personally, it doesn't always mean it's useful for all programmers. – Shadow Wizard is Ear For You Aug 4 '15 at 11:51
  • So remove the ability for upvote for the OP? – sarin Aug 4 '15 at 11:53
  • Not at all. The feature request just asked for automatic upvote when accepting an answer. (and was declined anyway) – Shadow Wizard is Ear For You Aug 4 '15 at 11:54
  • @ShadowWizard Having read that thread, there doesn't seem to be a clear distinction between voting from the original posters perspective to that of someone posting an answer. Sure there are lots of edge or corner cases as Jon Skeet was mentioning but these are all from the answerers perspective. IMHO, As a poster, if I am accepting an answer, having to upvote is a second unnecessary action. So either you can auto-select upvote or remove it and imply it only if you are the OP and you are accepting the answer. – sarin Aug 4 '15 at 12:01
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    Remember that users can't upvote until they have 15 rep, but they can accept an answer when they have 1. – Andy Aug 4 '15 at 13:26
  • @Andy I don't believe that edge case should even exist based on the question. – sarin Aug 4 '15 at 13:48
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    @sarin That's not an edge case. Over half of the users on Stack Overflow have a reputation of 1. Any one of those users can ask a question and accept an answer. None of them can upvote. – Andy Aug 4 '15 at 14:11
  • I should have been clearer. It's an edge case in relation to my question not in relation to the user base of stackoverflow as a site. My question is from the perspective of a poster. A poster with any level of reputation can accept an answer. Acceptance of an answer implies it is useful, whether or not they have the ability to upvote based on rep. – sarin Aug 4 '15 at 14:18
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Why does acceptance of an answer not imply an upvote?

Simply because they are two different things.
Also, it's not always the case where a question OP can upvote, but they can always accept.

Surely if you are accepting an answer you are also implying that it is useful?

No, by accepting an answer the question OP is implying "it is the best answer to their question".
This doesn't necessarily mean it's also worthy of an upvote.

I have seen plenty of answers which certainly answered the question, but was still a poor answer. If there are no other answers, then accept it would be ok, but not necessarily requires an upvote.

What is the point of having two separate actions? I don't get it.

You are confused because you believe accepting an answer will also always mean upvote, but this is not the case.



EDIT for your question edit/comments

I've spent a bit of time answering, and while it's just my opinion, and essentially just an expansion on my first answer above, hopefully this will be useful to you, or at least the debate here.


You commented:

yes i get those edge cases, but that is veering away from my question.

It's not veering from your question, the edge cases are the answer to your question, their being rare (or not) does not alter the fact their existence answers your question:

  • Q: "Why does acceptance of an answer not imply an upvote?"
  • A: "Because they are different, and we have different choices ('edge cases' as you call them), so acceptance in some circumstances does not also mean upvote"

And I don't believe they are as "edge" as you think.

The options a question OP has with "accept":

  1. Accept and upvote
  2. Accept and don't vote
  3. Accept and downvote

Options 2 and 3 may be "edge cases" to you, but there are millions of users on Stack Exchange sites and tens of millions of questions and answers, and as we all vote and do things differently the different scenarios can and will play out.
However rare they may or may not be, their existence answers your question "Why does accept not also mean upvote".

Accept does not mean upvote:
Even if in most cases an accepted answer is or should be upvoted, an accepted answer does not warrant an upvote "just because" it was accepted.

Perhaps this is your confusion, because you often see accepted answers do also warrant an upvote, and so you feel if someone is going to accept then "why not upvote?".
Because this is not always the case, as the two actions are different:

  • Upvote = This was a good answer, helpful, useful, informative, etc, so OP is likely to accept an (one of) upvoted answer
  • Accepted = This answered my question, but not necessarily a "good" answer so not necessarily also an upvote just because accepted

An Answer may well answer the OP's question, but that fact alone does not make it a "good" answer, and so an accepted answer does not necessarily deserve an upvote.

Of course, if there are multiple answers, and the OP upvotes one (or more) then they are likely to also accept one of the ones they upvoted and not one of the ones they did not.
But, again, reasons and scenarios exist which we do not think about here. So it may well happen that for some reason the OP upvotes one answer, and accepts another but doesn't upvote it.

This is why you cannot just state "accepted must also mean upvote too".

Accept and downvote:
There are some scenarios where a question OP could accept and downvote.
Yes, this is likely to be quite rare, but it is "possible", and possible means this is also an "edge case" in answer to your question.

Consider a "link only" answer. The info in the link's destination might answer the question, so you can fix your code (etc) and so accept "this answered my question, it was helpful".
But it being link only makes it a poor answer and so potentially worthy of a downvote.


While you can say these are rare or not, the fact is your question is not about rarities or anything complex, you simply asked "why does accept not also mean upvote".


I have updated it to demonstrate that even the Stack help site is confused as an accepted question is synonymous with a helpful one.

You cannot take two separate single sentences from the Help Center and dissect them individually based on their individual context, and use that to debate an entirely different and single context.

The Help Center you quoted is just pointing out the basics of voting and accepting separately.

The Help Center does not at all state you should "upvote" an "accepted" answer.

You've taken the fact the Help Center states that both "upvoted" and "accepted" answers are "helpful", and used that to somehow state the Help Center is therefore stating that the two should always be used together.

Just because those two things are evaluated as "helpful" does not mean they are therefore to be used in conjunction with each other at all times.

Also, the quotes certainly do not add any merits or context to your original and even edited question(s) as they are just separate functions and described as such. You joined them together based on some similarity.


The site functions, options, and how we use them are not bound by black and white decisions.
And the Help Center is just for providing basic info about how site functionality works, and it's not perfect, nor does it cater for all scenarios.

Take this Help Center page for example:

Whenever you encounter a question, answer or comment that you feel is especially useful, vote it up!

Now this Help Center page

Use your downvotes whenever you encounter an egregiously sloppy, no-effort-expended post, or an answer that is clearly and perhaps dangerously incorrect.

So, also according to the Help Center:

  • Vote up = answer is especially useful
  • Vote down = an egregiously sloppy, no-effort-expended post

Now consider an answer which answered the question perfectly, but is not "especially useful" and also is not "sloppy, no-effort".
What do you do? Your question was answered, so you accept.
You do not vote up or down because it does not fall under the above criteria.

The answer was "meh", not great, not terrible, just answered your question = accept but not vote.


Does "good" = "helpful" in the context of an answer?

The two words can sometimes be synonymous in describing an answer, and sometimes not.

Here's how I see it:

  • A "good" answer will be both "helpful" and "good". It's good for reasons such as providing plenty of info, alternative approaches, diagrams, etc, and those reasons will very likely also make it "helpful".
  • A "helpful" answer isn't necessarily a "good" one, it can be helpful just saying "click this link" and the link goes to a blog post with lot's of great info. The answer was helpful, but not a "good" answer.
  • Yes, I understand they are two distinctive actions. However I think they are distinctive for all situations other than if you are the OP and are accepting an answer to your own question. Accepting an answer = "it is the best answer to their question" = upvote. I see no reason why you as the OP can't upvote any other answer to your question, just, the one that you decide 'has' answered it implies an upvote. Not confused. If it's a poor answer and you know it is, then don't accept it! Down-vote it! – sarin Aug 4 '15 at 13:08
  • "If it's a poor answer and you know it is, then don't accept it! Down-vote it" That's not what I said, perhaps you read my answer too quickly because you disagree? If an answer "answers the question 100%" then accept it. But if that answer was weak, poor, etc, then don't upvote it. Also, "not upvoting" does not mean "downvote", it means "not upvoting". – James Aug 4 '15 at 13:12
  • "I see no reason why you as the OP can't upvote any other answer to your question" 1) because you need 15 rep and OP might not have 15 rep (it happens); and 2) because accept is not the same as upvote, even for OP of a question 3) when you answer and accept your own question – James Aug 4 '15 at 13:15
  • yes i get those edge cases, but that is veering away from my question. I have updated it to demonstrate that even the Stack help site is confused as an accepted question is synonymous with a helpful one. – sarin Aug 4 '15 at 13:23
  • Thank you for spending time on a verbose answer. I take your point on the 3 possible outcomes. I still struggle with the fact that someone who marks an answer as accepted however trivial, badly written, or sloppy it is, is saying it wasn't helpful at the same time. – sarin Aug 4 '15 at 23:52
  • @sarin They're not saying "it wasn't helpful". The "accepted" is stating it was helpful, by not upvoting they're not stating it was good - i.e. Accepted = Helpful; whereas Upvote = Good, so accepting means "thanks I got my answer" and upvote would (differently) mean, this was a good answer (not just an answer to the question, but a good answer to the question). But upvote can mean "helpful" too. It depends on the specific answer, and why I used words like "sometimes" and "not always" etc, as it's all contextual :) – James Aug 4 '15 at 23:56
  • Here's a perfect example, you stated "Thank you for spending time on a verbose answer. I take your point on the 3 possible outcomes." So my answer helped you. Did you upvote because it helped you, and/or was good? If you did not, that is fine, as it's your choice. Just as it's your choice to accept it because it's the only answer and feel it probably covers your question here, but at the same time you don't upvote because you disagree with some of it. (etc). Point is we have various scenarios and one rule does not fit all ;) – James Aug 5 '15 at 15:19
  • I upvoted because I thought it was useful and has explained the bigger picture but still hasn't answered it to my satisfaction. It would have been a better example had I accepted the answer AND upvoted ;) – sarin Aug 5 '15 at 15:25
  • (Sorry for the chat mistake - sigh) Yes I agree it would have been a better example had you accepted and upvoted or not upvoted. But the point remains, that there are "various potential scenarios and optional choices" and so we cannot state one set or pair of choices is always correct :) – James Aug 5 '15 at 15:27

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