I had a question of the form "does something like X exist?"
Someone wrote a response to say that, No, X does not exist, but I could write it if I liked.
I had suspected as much, so I marked his answer as the accepted answer. Today someone actually posted the code to do X for me, and I feel that the new poster deserves the "Accepted Answer" checkmark.

Is it poor form for me to pick a new Accepted answer? Does the original answerer get penalized in terms of reputation?

While the original responder's answer was accepted at the time, I feel this new answer is really more helpful.

Which of these responses should I accept?
What does the notion of a single accepted answer mean with a question that is subjective that could have multiple "right" answers?

  • 1
    Acceptance is not a real necessity for discussions on a Meta site. Generally, you accept what you think best concludes the question, or what you think best represents the solution to the issue. Sometimes people accept what they think is the best answer, it doesn't have to mean the universal best. If there is no conclusion, and you don't agree with any current answer to the point you "accept" it, then you don't need to mark anything as accepted. As long as a question is still open for discussion, there's no rush to have that green checkmark.
    – Grace Note StaffMod
    Commented Aug 27, 2010 at 15:38
  • @GraceNote Being pedantic, after reading stackoverflow.com/help/accepted-answer I would say that you should accept the answer that is most helpful rather than the best solution or concludes the question, although it could obviously be the same answer. Certainly an answer giving you the code to do what you want would be more helpful than one saying you can write it yourself.
    – Caltor
    Commented Apr 14, 2017 at 16:38

6 Answers 6


Is it poor form for me to pick a new Accepted answer?

Absolutely not!

If it's switching to a more correct answer, it is the right thing to do.

The original user will lose the 15 rep bonus immediately.

  • @devin It doesn't require a rep-recalc, since it's just a vote reversal.
    – Grace Note StaffMod
    Commented Aug 25, 2010 at 15:02
  • It happens automatically, the same as retracting an upvote Commented Aug 25, 2010 at 15:02
  • @Grace Bah. Shows what I know.
    – devinb
    Commented Aug 25, 2010 at 15:10
  • 11
    It's nice to comment on the previously accepted answer, in particular because of: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/1659/… Commented Jul 7, 2011 at 17:39

Is it poor form for me to pick a new Accepted answer?

Not in my opinion, though I don't do so gratuitously.

Does the original answerer get penalized in terms of reputation?

Well, they lose the 15 points (if not community wiki) and that answer might cease to qualify for a badge (the badge doesn't go away, but they have to "make it up" before they can get a new one of that type).


I see no problem with changing the accepted answer if a more comprehensive or factually correct answer is added at a later time.

It isn't mean or spiteful. It is just you doing the responsible thing with the questions you own and it benefits everyone who comes to that page later.


As everyone else said, there's certainly no problem with it. If it seems to be happening to you a lot, you might be accepting an answer too fast -- you should wait a couple days to give people a chance to answer


If StackOverflow is going to be a self-perfecting resource, then optimized answers should ALWAYS be permitted/encouraged regardless of their timing. When readers/researchers come to SO for answers/methods, they do so with confidence that they are going to find the most refined answer with the green tick (or with a disproportionate number of upvotes) with minimal wasted time.

Computer sciences must not allow emotions to inhibit creativity and excellence. Askers have the sole responsibility to award the green tick to the best performing (and most educational) answer for the greater good of SO and its ever-growing audience.

Not shifting the green tick (out of pity or whatever) to the best answer does a disservice to SO and its users.

As a knock-on effect, by rewarding later/better answers and stripping points from earlier/worse answers, a culture is established where the "Wham-bam thanks for the rep points for my half-considered method" posters are not rewarded and the posters that make fully considered answers are highlighted/rewarded. This is the only way to encourage the sloppy high-volume posters to slow down and write their best possible work.


Think that the idea about these sites is to get the best and most complete bookwork there is about the subject. So it is always the best to accept the best answer suitable. In time that could change.

Your question could slighty change too in time due to new knowledge gained and you have refrased the question, so another answer could be netter suited.

Don't feel bad for dismissing some point as it ain't a race to win. Not in that way.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .