I was browsing answersonfitness.stackexchange.com, when it dawned on me that while for programming and computers there's a provably right or better answer, there are several fields to which Stack Exchange is committing that might not be so lucky.

Generally, these communities are different too. Instead of stating "you should do this or that", they say "I've been doing this and it worked well for me".

I've asked a question there and accepted an answer on the sole basis that it was the best-backed one. Still, other opinions were in simple contradiction with it, and there was no evidence that they could be ruled out by the one I chose. So I've accepted an answer, and yet it's impossible to make a consensus. I feel bad for accepting it because it's not provably the best one.

That's not the same as a community wiki question. Community wiki lets anyone edit anything. It's only Stack Overflow that uses them as a façade for unanswerable questions. There are obviously answers to the question, and some are better than other; but there might be no absolute answer to many questions on several Stack Exchange site. And they don't deserve to be editable by just anyone, so that rules out Community Wiki in my opinion.

I think there are several topics that suffer from the same problem. In the end, probably very few areas have answers that are, in an absolute sense, better than others. I think this should lead to disregard accepting one answer as the best, and let the community, rather than the asker, decide what's best by upvoting or downvoting. This obviously involves different dynamics for reputation.

So what are your thoughts on this? Do you think some areas should not have an "Accept Answer" button?

EDIT I thought I'd include the link to the question. It's not even supposed to be subjective or anything. I don't think you'll find it unanswerable until you actually read the answers.

  • +1 because it's tagged as discussion and it's an interesting discussion, but I would have -1'd if it was a feature-request. Jul 27, 2010 at 4:23
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    It seems better to limit stackexchange to Q/A, and leave the subjectivity to forums. I wonder if adjusting SE for discussion would dilute its instant-answer strength. Maybe some sites just aren't suitable for SE. Interesting Q, though.
    – hyperslug
    Jul 27, 2010 at 4:36

2 Answers 2


The "Accepted answer" is intentionally not called "Best answer".

It's the answer you (the asker) accept. It's a completely subjective thing. So if an answer works for you, accept it.

If you need to "try it out" first you don't have to accept it right away. Try the ab exercises (example) for 2 months and if you see the progress you were expecting accept it.

  • But if it didn't work as expected, I'm off again to try the next one for two months. And it still might not work. At that rate, I think feedback from community members who tried it before is much more valuable (and convenient) than my results. Besides, how can you tell apart duplicates when acceptable questions have inherently subjective answers?
    – zneak
    Jul 27, 2010 at 4:27
  • @zneak - the StackExchange system is not a forum. To quote the faq, it is "a place for questions that can be answered". If a question doesn't have a definitive answer, but rather has a different answer for everyone who asks it, than the question isn't really a good for a for a stackexchange site in the first place. Jul 27, 2010 at 4:32
  • @Joel Coehoorn: Maybe it's not about the questions but rather about the site. As far as I can see, there is currently no criteria to decide if a topic is fit for a Stack Exchange site: just a need for a definition, and enough committed people. Asking questions that relate to metabolism is running full speed towards trouble if you want an instant answer, and yet apparently no one objected the creation of the site. I'm not sure where the problem lies, but I'm pretty sure there is one.
    – zneak
    Jul 27, 2010 at 4:51
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    @Joel Coehoorn: I would also like to add that the "not a forum" rule, while being convenient to shove off the debate, isn't very strictly enforced. On Stack Overflow, the second most upvoted question is "List of programming-related books". The next most upvoted question is also about books, and the next is about programming cartoons. Also, the "Not Programming Related" Stack Exchange proposal, to which Jeff Atwood committed, has no question in its best on-topic examples that can be objectively answered. They'll have the "accept answer" button problem too.
    – zneak
    Jul 27, 2010 at 6:23

It's just like any other programming forum. Person A goes there to get an answer and poof they're gone. Or they may actually decide to come back.

In my opinion, the accept answer thing is only there to draw people in. It turns into a game. Who can give the "BEST" answer.. oohoohoo!

  • I think you underestimate the consequence of having no absolute answer on the community. Perhaps you should check a question and an answer or two on the site I've posted.
    – zneak
    Jul 27, 2010 at 15:22

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