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I have a question which has gotten some terrific answers...

The answer which I mostly agree with is not as highly voted as the other(s); but i'm afraid that if I choose that as the accepted answer, it is going to be frowned upon by the community.

What do I do here?

Is there a process to help me select the correct answer? Is it etiquette or common practice to choose the most +1'd answer as correct?

  • 2
    If another answer is "better" according to the community, there's always the chance that it will receive the Populist Badge – phantom42 May 12 '14 at 13:05
  • Agreed. The votes may sway you or they may not. One of my top voted answers isn't "accepted" and several of my accepted answers are well below the number of votes of the highest rated, especially when I've added a more 'correct' answer later and the acceptance has been switched. Accept whichever answer you feel best answered your question. – Valorum May 14 '14 at 19:12
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I think you should pick the answer you prefer. Voting and an accepted answer are two separate systems for a reason. Don’t feel compelled to just accept the answer which gets the most upvotes. You should accept the answer that “works for you” (whatever that means in SciFi.se context).

(Originally a comment)

Think about it this way: if all the accepted answer does is mark the most popular answer, then why give the asker the choice in the first place? Pick the answer that you prefer.

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It doesn't matter what the community thinks: the purpose of the site is for you to get an answer to your question, so accept the answer that you feel does that job best.

If on the other hand none of the answers deal with your question adequately, then it's perfectly OK to not accept any. You shouldn't feel beholden to accept an answer just because it has a high number of upvotes: you're the asker so you're the only one in control of this.

It's also OK to edit your question, add the extra info you inadvertently omitted, and sit tight for a few more days in case you get even more good answers.

As I've said before and elsewhere: Stack Exchange is not a popularity contest. It's about questions and answers. You shouldn't need to be concerned about community acceptance.

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    Caveat: It's not OK to edit the question so drastically as to take good existing answers and make them invalid. In that case, just ask a separate new question. – DVK-on-Ahch-To May 12 '14 at 11:05
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The only time you need to strongly worry about what community thinks is answer accuracy.

If community downvoted an answer with an explanation that it's wrong (and why) it's probably a good idea to think hard before accepting it (still your right to do so if you wish). There are very few things that irk me more on SFF than seeing an accepted answer - AFTER I posted a canon quote in a comment proving it 100% wrong.

Otherwise, community votes should merely serve you as a rough (and not always accurate) hint as to the possible quality of the answers. In other words, if you are new to Stack Exchange, and not sure how to evaluate answer quality, you can give more credence to answers with more votes - but still more, to the comments explaining WHY the votes are there.

But the decision on acceptance is 100% yours - a hint is not a rule, merely one of the inputs into your decision making process.


As a side note, be aware that votes CAN be wildly misleading at times.

Sometimes people upvote the answer for fine (or not so fine) humor, and not actual accuracy or helpfulness (I had at least one of those).

Other times, simply because the poster sounded authoritative (I've seen +15 answers that looked OK but were either completely wrong or not really right to someone with deeper knowledge of facts).

Yet other times (granted, less likely on SFF vs SO), people may upvote "easier to understand" answer over a more in depth and more correct but harder to get answer.

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    SFF's version of "easier to understand" seems to be "ooh, pretty pictures!" – Izkata May 12 '14 at 12:22
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    @Izkata - -1 for your comment due to lack of pretty pictures. – DVK-on-Ahch-To May 12 '14 at 13:56

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