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I'm trying to figure out what type of answer I should generally mark as 'accepted' on my questions.

In my last question, I accepted the answer that was the most helpful to me, personally, even though I noticed that the other answer was more concise, and therefore some users would probably prefer it.

By now, several more votes were cast and they all went to the answer I didn't 'accept', which makes me wonder if I didn't chose appropriately according to the MSE unwritten rules.

Alternatively I thought, maybe the additional votes on the other answer are to "make up" for the missing 'accepted' tag. But I'm speculating. Any guidance on this would be appreciated.

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    $\begingroup$ You can accept whichever answer you want to, regardless of how the voting goes. But do try to acknowledge every answer you found helpful, by voting for it and/or specifically mentioning it in a comment. $\endgroup$ – Gerry Myerson Jun 9 '15 at 12:23
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    $\begingroup$ I did. Voted it up, said thanks in comment, and gave a short reason why I accepted the other answer. Still, I get the feeling I'm being ungrateful maybe, or I made a mistake, which is why I asked on here. $\endgroup$ – Bert Zangle Jun 9 '15 at 12:26
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    $\begingroup$ We all make mistakes. We do the best we can. Don't worry about it. Move on. $\endgroup$ – Gerry Myerson Jun 9 '15 at 12:29
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    $\begingroup$ You did the right thing by accepting the answer that helped you most. Other (up)voters have their preferences, you have yours. The answerers should be prepared for this. If they are not, it is not your problem but theirs. An expert answerer often knows that the point they want to make, or the method they present is probably not most helpful to the asker. Their "target reader" may be expected to be in possession of some extra bit of theory or something. Phrased differently: some answers were written for the benefit of future readers of the thread other than you the original asker! $\endgroup$ – Jyrki Lahtonen Jun 9 '15 at 12:39
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    $\begingroup$ You can find some older discussions about this if you look at this question and the questions linked from/to it. Or you could simply browse the questions tagged (accepted-answer) to find older related posts. $\endgroup$ – Martin Sleziak Jun 9 '15 at 13:25
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    $\begingroup$ Some questions will get two kinds of answers: some very short and densely packed, sometimes barely more than hints; others which carefully spell things out and try to explain every possible point of confusion. The latter might be likelier to be accepted by the OP, but the former are likelier to be upvoted by MSE users, perceiving them to be more elegant. $\endgroup$ – user156970 Jun 9 '15 at 21:49
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I accepted the answer that was the most helpful to me

That's exactly what the acceptance mark is meant to indicate.

Alternatively I thought, maybe the additional votes on the other answer are to "make up" for the missing 'accepted' tag.

That might be, or not. You can't know that, and you shouldn't really care.

Any guidance on this would be appreciated.

Do what you did, accept the answer that you found most helpful to you. You can upvote all useful answers you get, and for a reasonable threshold, you should upvote all sufficiently useful answers you get, but if you mark an answer as accepted, the intention is to indicate which answer you found most helpful.

You can, at any time, change which answer you accepted, in case a new answer is posted you find even more helpful, or you just reconsidered and in the long run found another answer more helpful than the initially selected one.

I did. Voted it up, said thanks in comment, and gave a short reason why I accepted the other answer.

That's very considerate of you. Nobody can reasonably expect more.

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  • $\begingroup$ Makes sense, phrased like that. Will "move on" as suggested by Gerry above, no good reason to dwell on it I suppose. $\endgroup$ – Bert Zangle Jun 9 '15 at 12:49
  • $\begingroup$ @zanglebert: Did you accept this answer because it was helpful to you, or because it had many votes? :-) $\endgroup$ – Asaf Karagila Jun 9 '15 at 21:09
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    $\begingroup$ @Asaf Got me there. I was peer pressured into accepting it by the sheer number of votes. I will open a new meta topic on this very topic right away ;) $\endgroup$ – Bert Zangle Jun 9 '15 at 22:20
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As a "complement" to @Daniel Fischer's answer:

Screen shot coming from the tour.

enter image description here

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When choosing a piano teacher for his daughter, the Emperor passed over Mozart and chose Salieri. If you conduct a poll today, most people will say that he should have chosen Mozart. But who the hell are we to tell the Emperor that Salieri is not qualified to teach his daughter?

So what qualifies all this other people to tell you that you should accept another answer? Maybe the most upvoted answer really is technically the best answer to the question. But if a less upvoted answer is the one that helped you understand the issue at hand, then that's the one you should accept. As long as it's not actually wrong, of course (though I think there's a mechanism that unaccepts an answer with too many downvotes).

You described the other answer as more "concise." But concise is not always better. Like if you ask for the definition of the Möbius function and I answer $\delta_{\omega(n)}^{\Omega(n)} (-1)^{\Omega(n)}$.

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