I asked a question and got an answer that solved my question, so I up-voted and then accepted.

Then someone else posted a new answer which included the information of the first answer plus many additional points. I plan to switch my project's code to reflect the new answer.

On one hand I already accepted so I don't want to cause the original poster to loose reputation. On the other hand objectively the newer answer is better.

Is there an obligation to switch accepted answer if a better one comes along that builds and improves on another answer?

  • On the reputation part, consider that your upvote more than offsets the reputation loss from being unaccepted. They still have a net gain from answering, even if it's not as much as they'd otherwise get. – Centimane May 25 '17 at 13:54
up vote 28 down vote accepted

It is not an obligation, but it is in the spirit of the site. Think of future readers; you want to signpost the answer that you, the question asker, deemed most helpful so that it will be evident to others.

Don't worry about the original answerer losing some rep: it comes and it goes. What is important is that the wiki contains helpful answers and recognizes the best of them with the green tick of goodness™…

  • 2
    +1 - but, wiki? – mattdm May 23 '17 at 19:52
  • @mattdm the site. Technically, it is a wiki, even though it looks nothing like mediawiki et al. – jasonwryan May 23 '17 at 20:39

The solution to that situation is to not accept so quickly...

That sounds a bit simplistic, but consider that not everyone gets to see the question right when it's posted. There will be answers that come a bit later. Also, questions with accepted answers show up with a green box in the question list, immediately signalling "case closed" even before the question is opened. That may discourage others from adding new answers. (It doesn't discourage everyone, of course, but it might.) Similar arguments are mentioned here on meta.SE, too, so I guess I'm not the only one.

Waiting a while may increase your chances of getting better answers, and decrease the likelihood of having to feel like stealing candy from a child when you have to take the check mark away from someone.

In the particular question you referred to, the first answer came in about 8 minutes, the second about 9 minutes later. That's quite quick, in my humble opinion. Perhaps there would have been time to sit on the check mark and revisit the question after a coffee break or such?


For self-answers, there's a mandatory 48 hour waiting period before accepting your own answer. I'm not sure if it would be bad to have a mandatory waiting period for all accepts, though of course not on that scale. (Sure, that might make it even harder to get drive-by users to accept any answers, but I'm just thinking out loud here.)

  • 3
    The site could (be changed to) let you select an answer now but have the score not apply for a few hours/days/weeks. In any event, sometimes there are answers where the highest voted one is not the official answer but it's pretty clear which one is more helpful to most people. Sometimes the person asking the question doesn't know that the answer they selected is wrong/inferior. – user13757 May 18 '17 at 10:23
  • @DrEval: sounds like how reddit does – Ooker May 23 '17 at 5:51
  • The only issue with that is no matter when an answer is accepted another answer could be posted after. Adding a mandatory waiting period seems like it would risk more questions not having a marked answer, and still not safeguard against the problem. Imagine: the asker tries to accept, is told they need to wait longer, then they forget about it. Having an accepted answer that's correct but not as thorough as another is still better than no accepted answer. – Centimane May 25 '17 at 13:57

I would like the idea of changing the accepted answer being distinct from unaccepting an answer.

Unaccept an answer is essentially:

I thought this answer was right, but it actually has some issue or another.

Changing the accepted answer is essentially:

This answer is more right


So I could see reason to say unaccepting the answer without choosing a different accepted answer is to say there's something wrong with the answer you choose originally, hence a reputation loss (which is really just a reduced reputation gain, you don't lose as much as you got from being accepted).

Picking a different accepted answer instead doesn't mean there is an issue with the original answer, so incur no penalty.


This is already mostly implemented. You can accept a different answer by clicking on the grey checkmark, I'd say that action should incur no penalty on the old answer. Specifically unchecking the accepted answer should incur the penalty.

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