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I'm having some trouble judging the validity of some answers on Meta Stack Exchange; that is, gauging whether an answer should be interpreted as official policy or not.

For example, let's say somebody asks how to correctly moderate something, and several different answers are posted. One answer is accepted, another answer has the most votes, and neither the asker nor answerer have a moderator badge near their name.

So, should answers on Meta Stack Exchange which are "accepted", or maybe which have the most score, be highly regarded or be treated as official policy?

The case which induced me to ask this is What to do when all answers to a question are wrong because of a misinterpretation of the question?; the accepted answer has 4 votes, but there are 2 other answers with 1 vote each, and no poster there has a moderator badge.

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  • Does this answer your question? How does accepting an answer work? Commented Aug 27, 2022 at 20:40
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    @SonictheAnonymousHedgehog no
    – qdinar
    Commented Aug 27, 2022 at 20:42
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    And now it's up to you to determine the validity of all these answers to this question! Best wishes on that, your votes are your own to do with as you see fit. Commented Aug 27, 2022 at 21:10
  • Does this answer your question? I feel that lately the answers to my questions on Stack Exchange are low quality meta.stackexchange.com/q/118582/282094 meta.stackexchange.com/q/7656/282094 - See also the "Linked" in the right column.
    – Rob
    Commented Aug 27, 2022 at 21:10
  • Can you explain what you mean by "legal force" in the context of this site or this network? What do you ultimately hope to resolve with your question?
    – Joachim
    Commented Aug 28, 2022 at 17:51
  • @Joachim i did not use "validity" originally, it is other person's text. it is required to clarify this question, so, i, suspecting that the unclear place is that word, wrote the most its close/matching meaning, for this context, from en.wiktionary.org/wiki/validity . of course it does not refer to state laws. i do not want to resolve anything with this question. this question appeared in my mind many times, when i read this site. posts are closed for some complex reasons, rules, which are not written in help, but only in meta sites. but they do not link to the meta sites usually. why?
    – qdinar
    Commented Aug 29, 2022 at 12:51
  • @rob no, they do not answer my question. they are about regular se sites, my question is about se's meta sites, here is also meta tag is set to show that. ie this is meta's meta question.
    – qdinar
    Commented Aug 29, 2022 at 13:03
  • @Joachim but this may help me to resolve a case, for now. you see, i linked to the case that induced to ask this. it is a link to a meta answer. under it, i have later added a comment with links to posts where a conflict occured. there in comments, my opponents mentioned a rule that i should edit my question to match their answers. after some time, i searched for what should be done, and found that answer in meta, which suggests to do so, as they said. i thought, should i obey to the rule in this answer?, and so, i asked this question.
    – qdinar
    Commented Aug 29, 2022 at 13:37
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    I don't really follow your line of reasoning there, but editing an answer to accommodate questions is AFAIK definitely not SE policy. A question can be edited or removed based on a site's policy, but answers to that question should not influence the merit or quality of a question.
    – Joachim
    Commented Aug 29, 2022 at 14:29
  • @Joachim i think this is offtopic here. let's continue this (what to do if answers do not match question) in comments of meta.stackexchange.com/a/147348 .
    – qdinar
    Commented Aug 30, 2022 at 20:40

3 Answers 3

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So, does such answers, "accepted", or maybe with most score, here have any high or official status?

No. The only posts with an official status here are those with a Policy Lock. Other than that, it's best to look at the post score; a post with a high score means the community at large found it useful, rather than just the question author.

no poster there has moderator's diamond mark.

There are only four moderators here, apart from some staff members which also wield diamonds. Our function is not to provide definitive answers to questions; in fact, we're just as fallible as other users. There are almost 100k questions here, you can't expect the majority of them to be answered by a handful of users (nor would that be healthy). Also, answers may have been provided by former staff members / moderators; would that mean they are not 'valid' anymore?

Bottom line: to judge whether an answer is good or not, please check its score and/or apply common sense. If it's answered by this user, it's bound to be good.

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    "The only posts with an official status here are those with a Policy Lock" - true, but I think that any post by staff member can be seen as official unless it says otherwise. Commented Aug 28, 2022 at 7:57
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An asker can "accept" any answer they like. Taken to the extreme: I can accept the answer that totally misses the point because due to that I learned how to solve my problem. That blatantly wrong answer helped me the most. Unlikely it happens often but nothing forbids I use my accept vote that way.

Answers here are meant to be guidance, written by community members for community members. There is no difference here between users, moderators or SE staff. You can do what you want with the given advice, adhere to it, mend it a bit for your own case, ignore it.

There are a few Q/A's that have slightly more prescriptive guidance and that are those tagged with . They capture the overall community consensus on how certain aspects of the site should be used or what approach is expected by all of us from the community at large. Still, most posts are by all kind of users and any FAQs written by SE staff often just summarizes what has been established by the community in the previous 6 to 8 weeks. You better not interpret FAQ posts too much for your own liking, just try to stick to the guidance offered.

The question that are SE staff only are those tagged but they can still have answers from users. Only on posts with a Policy Lock you can be 100% sure that is SE staff territory.

We are all held by the Code of Conduct.

Diamond moderators don't get to set the rules. They work with the community that elected them to be a janitor within the rules painted by the community. And communities evolve, painting new rules, color outside the lines.

We all use our common sense to build together the body of knowledge each site, even this meta site, wants to be. Read questions and answers and apply their intent in your daily use of the site as well as in the interaction with other users.

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    Some users also sometimes pick the answer that matches what they wanted to hear the most. Assuming these are correct can be dangerous Commented Aug 27, 2022 at 22:33
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On this site you'll find other people just like yourself but who have maybe used the site a little more than most. That's generally the status answers have here, people trying to give you the benefit of their experience and opinions based on their usage of this site.

So if we agree with one of the answers we'll upvote it, if not we might downvote it or add our own answer if we want to make some other point. Just like any other site really.

Ultimately we work off an idea called the wisdom of crowds i.e. if we all agree that something is a good idea as evidenced by a question getting a high score then it's probably the way you should go too. If we all disagree and the answer therefore has a low score then maybe avoid doing that. Otherwise maybe nobody really knows what to do, some questions really don't have an obvious right or wrong answer.

Occasionally you will get Stack Exchange Staff chiming in and perhaps their answers should be given more weight. You'll find they have Staff after their names in their user cards.

Even more rarely some questions or answers may be locked with a policy lock, they are the stated policy of Stack Exchange. Those do have official status and a mark to prove it.

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