And do they also get mad if you accept an answer that has fewer upvotes than the others?
I have no problem admitting to be a little grumpy if I have written a larger explanation with links and examples, and some other poster slaps a sloppy post on the stack and gets upvoted and wins.
But I actually think that the element of competition is healthy for the drive of the community. For the same reason that people treat reputation points as highscore points.
The only thing to conclude is that I hope people read through all their answer before accepting. The third down might not have that many +1s, but it might not only be correct, but also much better explained.
Neither of those things are, in my experience, any more likely to make someone mad than anything else. Generally, if someone is actually going to get mad about this, the truth is that they're really just mad that you didn't accept their answer. That's about all there is to it. They try to come up with justifications about why their answer is "better", but those are all secondary to the ultimate anger-inducing moment, that you chose someone else instead of them. (This happens outside of Stack Overflow as well.)
Of course, all of this is silly. Accepting an answer is a privilege reserved solely for the person who asked the question. It is how they indicate which answer helped them the most. It doesn't (necessarily) indicate the best, most correct or most complete answer to the question, just the one that you found the most helpful. It's logical that such a question will have many, if not all, of the above characteristics, but it is not mandatory.
Don't let anyone give you a hard time about which answer you choose to accept. If they think another answer is better, then they can upvote it. If they think the answer you accepted is bad or misleading, then they can downvote it. That's what votes are designed for: to let the community voice their opinion about the relative quality of answers. This is a complete separate system from acceptance by design.
If their answer is truly better, then it should receive more upvotes from the community and they'll gain plenty of reputation to compensate them for their time, energy, and effort, regardless of whether they are awarded the bonus entailed in having their answer accepted. If not, well then I smell something fishy...
And remember that if none of the answers were helpful to you, then you don't have to accept an answer at all! Although it's worth pointing out that in the majority of cases where this happens, it's because your question needs to be improved, either by adding more details or by clarifying what particular types of answers that you're looking for.
You should accept the answer that helped you the most. In many cases, that is going to be the most comprehensive answer. Succinctness does not negate comprehensive, the actual length of the answer seems rather incidental if quality is not an issue.
Just remember that by accepting an answer, you are leaving a marker to anyone else that experiences the same problem and finds your question after searching. Ideally, that person would find an answer that:
- Explains the background surrounding the problem you are having, if applicable
- Does not rely heavily on external links to convey the answer
- Is properly spelled, punctuated and formatted
- Leaves very little room for guessing
Still, it is entirely up to you to decide which answer should be accepted, provided that it actually helped you. Don't get bullied into accepting an answer that really did not solve your problem. Additionally, don't get bullied into accepting answers on previous questions if you've yet to receive an acceptable answer.
They don't get really mad, but there is definitely an element of envy/jealousy sometimes. This often result in targeting the accepting and accepted user.
However those should also understand that an OP may not be as knowledgeable as them and having that much patience as them. Preciseness of an answer is more important than length. It holds true in real life also.
On the other hand OP should also understand that lengthy answering people would have spent some quality amount of time. At least OP should perform a gratitude with putting a
+1 thanks for the details kind of comment and up vote their answers (if they really answer it).
People get bent out of shape over all kinds of silly things. Whether it makes sense to most people for them to do so is another matter!
The most important thing is that the accepted answer is entirely at the discretion of the asker to select which answer was most useful to him or her. No one else can judge exactly why a given answer was more or less beneficial. Sometimes a shorter answer is clearer to the asker. Sometime an answer with less votes better solves the asker's specific problem but the most upvoted answer solves the more general problem.
The only time that I think that external parties can criticize an asker for selecting an answer is for selecting an answer too quickly. I swear that some asker's do not even read all the answers! It might sound crazy but the standard advice is to wait a full twenty-four hours before accepting an answer to allow time for answers to trickle in.
Even so, if the asker wants to accept the the first answer supplied, without reading the other answers, and as soon as the system allows the accepted answer check mark to be checked, that is entirely up to the asker. That is their right by virtue of having asked the question. And yes, that might make some people mad!
Perhaps a better question would be: "Is it considered bad etiquette to accept shorter answers?"
Sometimes brevity is the soul of wit. Just because an answer is long does not necessarily make it the best one. Some answers are a wealth of very useful information, but do not address the original question directly. I don't think you need to worry too much about accepting a shorter answer as long as it is the most helpful answer to you.
A few other points to keep in mind:
- If you really want to acknowledge a great answer without accepting it, don't forget that you can always offer a "tip" to the poster in the form of a bounty!
- The Populist badge is awarded to anyone whose "answer outscored an accepted answer with score of more than 10 by more than 2x."
- An accepted answer generates 15 reputation, but a single upvote generates 10 reputation. Even if you don't accept a longer answer, it only needs two additional votes to generate more reputation than the accepted answer.
- You can upvote the longer answer even if you don't accept it.
- You can edit your original question to explain why you chose the answer that you did.