Imagine the following: You ask a question about a software or programming language or whatever.

Your question is answered first by somebody who knows his stuff, has long time experience and may also already have a high reputation.

Then, some time later, the founder/owner/developer of said software or programming language answers. This answer is the same as the one from the person who came first. Furthermode since he invented what you were asking about the answer most certainly is correct.

Now which answer do you accept? The first one? But you didn't know for sure it is the right one until the second one. So the second one?


If the answerer's being the author of the software adds additional value to the answer, then the second one - it's the most authoritative, and thus usually the most useful answer.

If the second answer comes in later, don't even be afraid of switching accepted answers. It will sting the first answerer a bit (especially if they've put a lot of research into it - I've been in that situation, too) but it's the right thing to do.

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  • +1. When accepting answers you should always keep in mind that you do so to help others seeking an answer to your question. And that's what everyone answering has to accept, too. This is not about rep, but about, to quote Jeff, making the internet a better place – Tobias Kienzler Oct 15 '10 at 12:11
  • If the first answer is just as correct and useful, why would you change it simply because the 2nd answer came from a developer? – Rebecca Chernoff Oct 15 '10 at 17:47
  • @rchern If it's a deep question about something a developer can answer more authoritatively and meaningfully than somebody else, yes. If the person being the original developer doesn't add any value to the answer, then of course no - I'll clarify to that effect. (One example I'm thinking about is somebody asking "Am I likely to encounter performance problems when doing XYZ in jQuery?" and John Resig answering it.) – Pekka Oct 15 '10 at 17:50
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    If the answerer's being the author of the software adds additional value to the answer then value has been added and the author of the answer is irrelevant. John Resig isn't the only person that can answer that question correctly. – Rebecca Chernoff Oct 15 '10 at 18:02
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    You all have a point, and just because the author answers this doesn't mean it is the best answer. But if it is a question like "Is it true that...?" - answers which maybe could be answered by a simple yes/no. And then two people come and say "yes". Well, I tend to "believe" the author more because he must know it, because he invented it. The other person who anserered earlier might also be right, but maybe he cannot see all edge conditions. – Heinrich Ulbricht Oct 20 '10 at 9:30

I don't agree: It's not because the developer answered, that it is by definition the most useful. Usefulness also depends on wording, sample code, and directing the real problem. I've read many interesting explanations from developers that actually didn't really address the problem, but explained why it existed. If the question is a solution for the problem, than the explanation about the internal engines is not what you're looking for.

The only criterion should be : which answer gives me the information I'm looking for in the most appropriate way. It might be useful though to wait with accepting an answer until you have a few answers, that avoids frustrations from switching the accepted answer around.

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    Indeed, acceptance should mean "this is the most useful answer" regardless of source. – ChrisF Oct 15 '10 at 16:19

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