Okay, I have found two other places this question, in form, has been marked (here and here). But I ask this as a question because there is no explanation why the other two are by design.

So. Why is it the case that the accepted answer is sorted to the top even when I explicitly choose to sort answers by "activity" or "newest"? It makes sense for default view (sorted by votes)--an accepted answer is kind of a super vote, and you want users who come to the site via Google to easily find the best answer. But what's the use case for the user who has said "I want to see the newest answers" still seeing the accepted answer first, even if it's older?

I can think of one, but I think it's weak: the new user has clicked [newest] or [activity] while viewing a question, and didn't realize that the setting is sticky. So now he browses other questions and doesn't see the best answers at the top and so he decides SO isn't as awesome as it used to be and he leaves. Of course, this sets him behind his coworkers who do use SO, and his boss eventually fires him for not being a good programmer and then his girlfriend dumps him because she only dates programmers and he becomes a clinically depressed alcoholic homeless beggar. All because Kip thought that the accepted answer shouldn't be sorted to the top when the user picked a sort order other than [votes]

Is there some other usage argument for this, or is it just a limitation because of how the code is written?

  • Yeah, I want to know why also!
    – jjnguy
    Dec 14, 2010 at 21:04
  • Kip, rollback, please! ;-)
    – Arjan
    Dec 14, 2010 at 22:29

1 Answer 1


The accepted answer floats to the top (except when it's the OP's own answer) because it's the most important answer regardless of sort order. It floats to the top when sorting by votes even if there are other higher voted answers.

That way anyone coming to the question with the same problem will immediately see the answer that helped the OP solve their problem. They can then implement that solution themselves without having to wade through all the other answers.

  • 1
    right, and anyone coming to the question will see the votes view unless they explicitly ask for a different view. my question is why is the accepted answer still on top if the user has explicitly asked for the newest answers to be on top
    – Kip
    Dec 14, 2010 at 20:49
  • 5
    @Kip Some of us prefer active/newest as our default sort option, but still want to have the accepted answer when we're seeking actual answers. Making us have to switch to votes just to see the accepted answer, and then back again, is far more of a hassle than the adjustment of acknowledging that "non-author accept is always on top".
    – Grace Note StaffMod
    Dec 14, 2010 at 20:50
  • 6
    @Kip the accepted answer is the most important answer regardless of sort mode. Even when sorting by votes it might not be the highest voted answer.
    – ChrisF Mod
    Dec 14, 2010 at 20:53
  • 3
    I wonder though why it even exists. Isn't SO all about the questions and answers rather than the users themselves? Why does the OP have more power? It goes against SO's philosophy. Dec 14, 2010 at 23:14
  • @Kop - it should mark the answer that solved the problem.
    – ChrisF Mod
    Dec 14, 2010 at 23:36
  • 2
    Maybe it's the most important to the OP, but it need not be the most important for anyone else...
    – l0b0
    Jan 30, 2012 at 11:33
  • @l0b0 - It is important that everyone see the answer that helped the OP first. In most cases it will help them as well. If nothing else it's a quick visual clue that the question probably doesn't need another answer. Anyway the answer that the community thinks is important should be the one that's got the most votes. This will be next when the answers are sorted by votes (the default).
    – ChrisF Mod
    Jan 30, 2012 at 11:37
  • 1
    I agree especially if there are a lot of answers - It would be a pain to look for the accepted one.
    – l0b0
    Jan 30, 2012 at 13:42
  • 1
    -1, because there are cases where accepted answer has 3-5 votes, and there is another answer with 130 votes Nov 14, 2013 at 8:31
  • 1
    @BЈовић - The point of the accepted answer is that it's the one that in the askers mind helped them the most. I agree that it might not be the "best" answer, but that's what the votes are for.
    – ChrisF Mod
    Nov 14, 2013 at 9:04

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