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Some time ago I made a question on a SE site about a very subtle issue.

After some investigation, I have found the (very) subtle problem and I fixed it by myself, posting an answer to my own question, and after a while I also accepted it because I know it is right, since I am also the one who made the question :)

But the kind of problem I was having was so rare that apparently nobody else is having the same problem, but only the same "symptoms", and therefore they are upvoting other answers, which is perfectly fair, in fact I upvoted those answers too!

But I am realizing that the fact that I accepted my own answer is starting to attract downvotes, I believe because the users think the other answers are better and mine should not be the accepted one.

Still, it is my solution that solved my more specific problem, therefore it seems logical to me that I have to accept mine, even if for most other cases the other solutions are surely more applicable than mine.

But I believe the problem is that the fact that I accepted it is generating thoughts like "this should not be the accepted answer!", which may cause downvotes that I don't deserve, because I think that the number of upvotes should not determine the accepted answer, but only the fact that it "solved the problem" (I believe this is the actual definition and purpose of the notion of "accepted answer").

So what I should do? I have the following options in mind:

  1. Just accept the downvotes even if they are "unfair". I did the right thing in accepting my answer as it solves my specific problem, and unfortunately some users won't understand this and will downvote it because they want other answers to be accepted, although they cannot solve my problem.

  2. Unaccept my answer and accept the answer that solved the problem in most cases for the other users, since it is more "applicable" in most cases where the "symptoms" described in my question occur. Even if that answer did not solve my specific problem, perhaps this would provide a better service to the community?

  3. Just unaccept my answer, even without accepting any other answer, just in order to avoid thoughts like "this should not be the accepted answer!".

  4. (I don't like this) Delete my answer to stop attracting downvotes and damaging my reputation, but I really don't want to do this as I think my answer will eventually be useful for someone and I put much effort on it.

  5. As the question title says, request to disown my answer, so that any upvotes or downvotes on it would not affect my reputation, but the information on how to solve my specific problem remains there, and I can still mark it as accepted because it actually solved my problem.

What to do you think?

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  • 2
    Maybe this is covered by How does accepting an answer work?
    – bad_coder
    Jul 2 at 13:21
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    Does this answer your question? I have a stupid self-answered question. Should I accept my own answer?
    – Rob
    Jul 2 at 15:16
  • Edit your answer to say that it is a self answer & actually was the solution in your particular case. PS But maybe there are reasonable reasons to downvote it even it does solve some case?
    – philipxy
    Jul 2 at 17:32
  • Thanks @philipxy - I had already done what you suggest. Regarding your question, I personally don't believe so, but of course I may be wrong for some reason I may have failed to understand. In fact my hypothesis is just a "suspect", and I was curious about whether one may disown the answer "just in case", although I liked that answer and if I am wrong on this I could even miss future rep points if I ask to disown it, who knows. Jul 2 at 17:37
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    If it's the post it seems to be, the tl;dr does not say what I suggested. Also, after saying what I suggested give the answer--because that's what the post is there to give. Only afterwards give a section on how you found that is clearly identified as optional at its start. Also the point would be to help others debug similar problems so focus on giving distilled specific debugging help & not a story about your adventures. If you say what you did, say it to justify a claim you made first--just say, x worked before. Avoid narratives & be as concise as possible. (See the help re good posts.)
    – philipxy
    Jul 2 at 18:00
  • Many thanks @philipxy for your advice, I will try to apply both your suggestions, although the second one is not easy to apply. If I just gave e.g. the commands to execute I would have to say "Find the repositories with a missing HEAD and run these commands", but the readers would not understand what that means and how to find those repositories. What you say can be done, but it will require some editing work. Jul 2 at 18:05

1 Answer 1

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You are free to accept whichever answer helped you the most.

All users are encouraged to upvote answers that they find useful and downvote answers that they do not find useful.

I do not think asking for your answer to be dissociated from your account is an appropriate action in the circumstance that you describe.

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  • Thank you, but what do you think about the phenomenon of the answer being downvoted for the wrong reasons? Because "this should not be the accepted answer" is clearly a wrong reason, because the OP should decide that, so how can I prevent my reputation from being affected by people who don't know how acceptance works? PS perhaps this last question should have been the title of my post :D Jul 2 at 12:12
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    You cannot know that was the reason for a user’s downvote.
    – PolyGeo
    Jul 2 at 13:41
  • You are right, but the reason of my concerns is that I also noticed it's a very common phenomenon, when I read complaints like "Why isn't this the accepted answer?" (written under more popular answers). How common/likely do you think it is? And, in a universe where it was proven to be very common, would it affect the observations you made in your answer? Jul 2 at 13:56
  • If somebody comments "this should not be an accepted answer" they obviously find the post not useful and even actively harmful (before SE, thankfully, unpinned accepted answers on SO, this mark, indeed, caused a lot of harm by burying better answers by virtue of being the first [and often the only] post users seeking solutions see). If such comments influence votes, then it means other users agree that the post is not useful, voting accordingly. This is in no way a "wrong" reason to downvote. Jul 2 at 15:14
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    "affected by people who don't know how acceptance works" - do not assume they don't unless you are clairvoyant. There is no contradiction in knowing that only the OP can push the button and wanting to nudge them in the correct (from one's point of view, of course) direction. Granted, such comments themselves are mostly noise, and should be NLN'd as they don't provide any useful insight into the post (and are more verbose versions of "+1"), but this is no way indicates that the user leaving such a comment is unfamiliar with how acceptance works. Jul 2 at 15:18
  • @OlegValteriswithUkraine I have never made that assumption, but for the same reason I cannot make the opposite assumption either (especially because the answer I wrote was very well written, with both a TL;DR section and a "details" section, I really don't see a reason to downvote it, but this is another story). What I meant with my question is: since I am not assuming, but I am still suspecting, that this can happen, is there a way to protect my reputation from this "risk"? If I am wrong and there is no such phenomenon, then I would "pay the price" by not earning rep points if it's upvoted. Jul 2 at 16:28
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    If "how can I prevent my reputation from being affected by people who don't know how acceptance works" is not an assumption of what I mentioned above, @Kubuntuer82, I don't know what is. You don't and you can't know the commenter does not know how the acceptance works. But anyways, since I suspect I know which Q&A you are talking about on SO: it's just one downvote, shrug it off if you believe the post is good. Time will tell if it really is. One thing I would advise is make it less verbose since it boils down to "I had no commits in repos and hence didn't have any HEAD". That might be [1/2] Jul 2 at 16:38
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    [2/2] the actual reason why you got downvoted. In particular, the "how I understood what to do" is unnecessary, nor is it necessary to teach readers how to make commits (unless the reader is absolute beginner, they know that). Other than that, your answer does not seem to be any worse than the other ones, especially given they are of the "turn it off and on again" form (and yours is the only one that actually explains itself). Jul 2 at 16:41
  • First of all, many thanks for your advice, very appreciated :) just one last thing I'd like to clarify: perhaps I used the wrong words, but I really didn't "assume" that people don't know how acceptance works, but only that there is some non-zero probability: if that probability is, say, 10%, even if it is a clear minority, it means that every 100 users there are still 10 users who may behave like this. But even if I were right, it would still be a minority, so we both agree that the SE community is very mature, that's for sure :) Jul 2 at 16:51

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