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It is not a secret, that across Stack Exchange sites there are plenty of accepted answers of a dubious quality. They may answer the question, but lack something crucial. Some answers even get accepted as some kind of a gesture of a goodwill from the original poster.

I think it could be helpful to have a Dubious button (or something similar) near an accepted question. If sufficient number of votes are passed, the question gets unmarked as accepted and other answer authors get opportunity to provide own quality variant instead. The "Dubious" button will be available to members with, say, 200 reputation.

Is this a viable idea?

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  • The downvoting feature already disqualifies an answer from being the best. E.g. stackoverflow.com/a/11155703 (also: the checkmark means the answer did a great job only for the OP - voting against the checkmark is like forcing OP to change their decision)
    – nicael
    Oct 29, 2015 at 19:05
  • OP can never return to the question, once it was resolved for him. Oct 29, 2015 at 19:08
  • Well, so what? It was OP's decision. The community decides the quality of the answer by (up/down)voting.
    – nicael
    Oct 29, 2015 at 19:10
  • @TranslucentCloud totally not true. Comments can be made on the question, OP gets notifications. If he/she are convinced by the comments, undoing the acceptance is easy enough. Oct 29, 2015 at 19:32
  • Even if SO is made to let OPs get answers to their problems, it is way more, than that now. A lot of people use somebody else's questions to get answers to their problem too, if it is common. I believe, SO should first serve the users and not the question particular asker. Especially if the question with dubious answer exists and users can't ask something similar without getting duplicate warning. Oct 29, 2015 at 19:37

3 Answers 3

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Yet again, someone is about a subject that is near and dear to me. For several months, I've been looking at this issue trying to figure out what if anything can be done with using your words, "dubious answers."

Unfortunately, this is not an easy problem to solve mainly because we don't know the full scope of the problem and there isn't an easy way to locate these answers. Ideally, people would edit them into fantastic answers but my request for idea's on how to encourage edits failed, in that, no one really offered a solution how to encourage edits... boo you all failed!

But seriously, we know it's a problem but we haven't found a solution to it that will work the way we want.

The accepted answer is the indication that the user who asked the question found a solution for them. Yes, that might be wrong, years later, but it is a signal that at some point the answer solved the problem. At this point, we will not be giving the community the power to remove that mark.

Related

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  • Well, if you (mods) are not ready to let Community to unmark dubious answers (yet), maybe there is a chance to let Community to just indicate these answers? I think simple downvoting do not do the same thing. Oct 29, 2015 at 19:43
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    @TranslucentCloud That's the point of downvoting, it's the indicator that something is wrong with the answer, whether it's wrong, bad, etc.
    – Taryn
    Oct 29, 2015 at 19:45
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    I never really understood the issue at all, nor the requests or efforts to fix this. What is wrong with asking a new question, linking to the one with the dubious answer, explaining why that answer doesn't work in your context and then wait for great answer to poor in? Your only task would be to make 100% clear it is not a duplicate.
    – rene
    Oct 29, 2015 at 19:50
  • I'm wondering whether the question I just posted may provide a simpler way forward: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/268666/… - I could not find it suggested previously.
    – PolyGeo
    Oct 30, 2015 at 4:17
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There is already such button:

And it requires 125 rep, which is reasonable.

Seriously now, I see no real reason in yet another "this answer is not good" indicator. Accepted status means one thing, and one thing only: the answer was helpful to the question author. That's it. It does not mean it's really a good answer, or even useful for others. That's what we have the voting system for.

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  • 1
    No, you didn't get the point. Accepted answer may be infinitely downvoted, but it nevertheless stay as accepted, as it was. If community can de-accept some dubious answers, it may draw attention from other members to get 25 reputation by providing own answer. Oct 29, 2015 at 19:07
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    Those who know their way on SE also know to look below the accepted answers, to the answers with high score. In the rare cases of a really bad answer being accepted, we can flag it, and moderator can delete it. Oct 29, 2015 at 19:08
  • Flagging is an extreme measure. People rarely use it and it is for exceptional cases. What I suggest is a routine way to do the thing. Oct 29, 2015 at 19:11
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    @ShadowWizard Actually moderators don't judge the technical accuracy of an answer. If it's wrong and accepted and you flag it for deletion, most likely that flag would be declined.
    – Taryn
    Oct 29, 2015 at 19:19
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    I guess he means low quality / junk answers (those that fit in the flag reason). Oct 29, 2015 at 19:24
  • @blue what Patrick says plus answers that can cause harm, e.g. "format your hard drive" as answer to "How to delete [something here]". Oct 29, 2015 at 19:33
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    @ShadowWizard I can say from my experience as a mod, if it's possibly a bad answer (or even dangerous) and it get a flag saying to delete it for those reasons, we hesitate to do so. That's what comments and downvotes are for.
    – Taryn
    Oct 29, 2015 at 19:37
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There is already a way for the community to get rid of truly bad accepted answers, without help from either the OP or from ♦ mods:

  1. Downvote the answer until its score drops below zero.

  2. Get three users with 20k+ rep (2k+ on beta sites) to vote to delete it.

Technically, the answer will still be accepted — but once it's deleted, it will no longer be visible to most users, and will be clearly marked as deleted for those who can see it.

So how do you get all those people to downvote and del-vote the answer? Well, the first step is to post a comment on the answer explaining why it's so bad, if only to discourage more people from upvoting it in the mistaken belief that it's correct. If there isn't already an alternative answer offering a better solution, and explaining why the bad solution should be avoided, I'd also recommend posting one.

After that, I would point you towards chat.

There's a link in the top bar menu (and in the footer) on each site to the chat rooms associated with that site. Most SE sites (and most major tags on SO chat) have more or less active chat rooms where you can ask for help with matters relating to the site, including asking others to visit a post and vote on it. (Yes, as long as the other people are free to make their own decisions on how to vote, this is perfectly acceptable.) In many chat rooms, it's common to tag such requests with a "fake" tag like / / , especially where the reason for close/down/delete voting the linked post should be obvious, but feel free to phrase your request any way you like.

If chat doesn't seem helpful, or if your site just doesn't have enough active chatters, you can also post on your site's meta. That's a tried and true method of focusing a lot of attention on a post.

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