A little back-story -- Recently I saw a question SO (with a bounty of +50 rep) where I knew the answer. Someone had already attempted to answer the question both in comments and with an official answer, but it did not solve the OP's issue. So, I posted the correct problem, and then posted a link to a very nice blog post I found with a detailed step-by-step of how to fix it.

The first answerer then updates their answer to include the info from the blog that I posted and even credited me for finding the info, and the OP accepts their answer. After the initial disappointment, I began to genuinely question which IS the better answer, and which should be accepted. Is the better answer the one that solves the issue, or the one that is more thoroughly laid out in the answer section without extra links to external info?

Here's the real question...

What are the top three qualities/attributes of an answer?

P.S. This question is not intended to be a complaint. In fact, in the above mentioned question neither my post nor the accepted answer was IMHO "best"; it was a third answer that was best because it was more elegant and better described the problem.

Really I'm looking for a litmus test, or rule-of-thumb checklist of for weighing two or more correct answers.

The best answer here should clarify, better refine, or present what you believe are the best principles for selecting an answer.

If "best practices" don't exist for something as deceivingly simple as selecting an answer, what principles might you suggest?

(Answers backed by examples or documentation are prefered)

  • @Shadow Wizard I've edited my question. I haven't found a question that asks what the principles or best practices of "accepting an answer" should be, in a way that elicits a response of a short list. Admittedly, the original phrasing of this question may have fallen short of that goal as well. Should I just make a new question?
    – Josh
    Nov 19, 2015 at 5:39

2 Answers 2


Whichever the asker believes to be most useful in answering their question.

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    Now someone post a thorough answer…. Oct 8, 2015 at 3:38
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    LOL! ...but really that is the question. Is it just a matter of belief, or is there a more quantifiable answer?
    – Josh
    Oct 8, 2015 at 3:43
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    @Josh: The checkmark has been very stoutly defended for years as being strictly up to the (hopefully enlightened) whims of the asker, and no one else. That being the case, this answer is, I believe, as close as it gets to "correct" without moving thoroughness into the answer body ;) Oct 8, 2015 at 3:45
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    @Josh Which of the answers are you going to pick now and why? Oct 8, 2015 at 6:40

It's all in the eye of the beholder, often people accept the first of similar answers which has led to the fastest gun in the West.

The Tour says this

Accepting doesn't mean it's the best answer, it just means that it worked for the person who asked.

There are plenty of previous questions on this subject such as

so you could read up on the soul searching other people have done regarding this issue both here and on StackOverflow's meta.

But it mostly boils down to: The asker of the question is free to accept the answer that they found to be the most helpful to them, personally.

  • A worthy challenger! Let's do this. Oct 8, 2015 at 6:42

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