I've been active on SO since 2009, and have seen many old questions get new answers as technology changes. Sometimes the accepted answer becomes suboptimal, and the OP is no longer active to mark another answer as the accepted one.

This causes the correct answer(s) to gain few upvotes, while the accepted one keeps piling up votes due to the snowball effect.

However, some rare individuals have edited their own answers to point to the better ones right off the bat. Is there some sort of badge or reward I could award in such instances, to encourage this honorable behavior?

UPDATE: There's a closely related feature request that would solve my ask:

Allow Accepted Answer recipient to give it away

I've added my "outdated answers" use case to it because back when it was requested (2009), this use case didn't exist.

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    You could give them a bounty... – Sonic the Bracketed Hedgehog May 9 at 0:31
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    @SonictheInclusiveHedgehog: as in, set a bounty to reward an existing answer, theirs? That would draw even more attention to it. – Dan Dascalescu May 9 at 0:36
  • @DanDascalescu - Well it’s your only tool to draw attention to question or answer you like. – Ramhound May 9 at 1:23
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    @Sonic unless I'm mistaken OP wants to reward the fairplay user (A) pointing at another answer (B) than theirs. Bountying A would result in an obsolete answer having more acknowledgement, which isn't optimal; bountying B is a sound thing to do, but doesn't reward A (which is what OP is wondering about) – Jenayah May 9 at 1:27
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    @Jenayah I'm aware, my point is that aside from a bounty there isn't much they can do. – Sonic the Bracketed Hedgehog May 9 at 1:28

Badges are never directly awarded by users. They're only extremely rarely awarded by staff and that's only in special situations (Not a Robot, for example).

The only real way we have to "thank" someone is through bounties. That said, you note that it seems inappropriate to bounty this specific answer as it is outdated and the bounty will only draw attention to it. It also requires that you are willing to give up some of your own reputation to thank this person. If you are, the other option you have would be to find one of their other answers that is currently excellent and worthy of recognition and put a bounty on that question rather than this one. In your search for such an answer, please avoid voting on them all as that may look like targeted voting to our system.

In this way you can grant the user reputation without drawing attention to the outdated answer... that said... eh... you've said thank you already in a comment. While I love that you want to thank them somehow, our current system doesn't really allow for that and that's largely by design. Our system, as much as people accuse us of being a social media site, is designed primarily to recognize the content, not the people who create it. The two are very closely intertwined but not quite the same.

Now, there actually is one badge that this user may get and it's one we've had for a while. That is, the Sportsmanship badge... and the user in question doesn't have it yet. The badge description is:

Up vote 100 answers on questions where an answer of yours has a positive score.

Now, this isn't quite the same as what you're looking for but it does reward that same quality you appreciate from this user - recognizing that answers competing with yours on a question may also be of value. So, if David upvoted your answer and eventually upvotes 99 other competing answers, he'll earn this badge (assuming he's not upvoted others yet).

  • Thank you for the clarifications. Made me realize that what I ultimately would like to do is encourage behavior like this - favoring other answers at the expense of one's own (and reputation). Turns out there's already been a feature request (since 2009!) to allow the accepted answer recipient to give it away. I submitted an edit adding this new use case (outdated answers). How can we bring more attention to that feature request? – Dan Dascalescu May 9 at 2:03
  • We're perennially having discussions about modifying how accepted answers work, particularly in cases like these where the top answer is accepted but outdated and the asker is MIA. The answerer can't delete the answer (though a moderator could) and the accept mark can't be changed. For outright wrong answers, it is possible for anyone to flag for moderator attention (though it often goes over better if the answer themselves does it) to request that the answer be removed... but that's at the discretion of the mod. – Catija May 9 at 2:07
  • Is there a technical (or other) reason why this discussion hasn't moved forward? I haven't seen any counter-arguments in the feature request to allow answerers to give away the "accepted" checkmark since 2009. Not sure about the larger discussion about accepted answers, but it seems that when the answerer themselves wants to give it away, there has been no contention? – Dan Dascalescu May 9 at 2:17
  • It's very unlikely that we'd allow someone other than the OP to choose who gets the accept - it's just integral to our concept of accepts that the answer is about what best helped the OP, not what's most correct. Giving the person with the accepted answer the ability to choose a different answer overturns that concept. It's more likely that we'd allow them to reject it if they feel it's inappropriate... and, hey, now that I actually read the post, that seems to be the top answer's suggestion, too. – Catija May 9 at 2:20
  • I thought it's possible for employees to change the accepted answer? Isn't that what happens with the Recent feature changes to Stack Exchange post? – Sonic the Bracketed Hedgehog May 9 at 2:37
  • @SonictheInclusiveHedgehog Not sure how that's really relevant here. – Catija May 9 at 2:40
  • "the accept mark can't be changed"... – Sonic the Bracketed Hedgehog May 9 at 2:42
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    @SonictheInclusiveHedgehog Please... just... stop being so absolute. Staff being able to do something is non-relevant here - first because only a very few of us can do it and second because we just don't do it except in extremely rare cases. – Catija May 9 at 2:43
  • IMO the concept of "the [accepted] answer is about what best helped the OP" is flawed, but that aside, how about simply letting the answerer reject the accept, without awarding any other answer that status? The question would simply have no accepted answer until the OP accepts another one (if they ever do). – Dan Dascalescu May 9 at 20:39

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