Suppose that a user does not genuinely accept the best answers on their questions, but instead accepts all the answers with the fewest upvotes. I appreciate the fact that everyone is free to choose his/her votes and accepts, but that would seem like plain trolling to me. People who spent their time throughly answering questions should get appreciation from the community for that, but the user isn't using the system like they are supposed to. Should something be done?

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    $\begingroup$ I think the edited abstract version of the question is worthwhile, since it could lead to interesting discussion on how to best cast votes (which, alas, often appears quite random) and accept answers. So perhaps experienced users could say something about how they decide to cast votes and accept answers, and this could provide guidance for newer users. $\endgroup$ – Bill Dubuque Sep 5 '11 at 21:27
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    $\begingroup$ @Thi It is possible that when the user accepted an answer the votes were very different from their current values, e.g. if the answer was accepted very quickly (a common problem). $\endgroup$ – Bill Dubuque Sep 5 '11 at 21:48
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    $\begingroup$ @Bill: The following comment was made to the user in question: [name redacted], I noticed that you have asked 12 questions till now. But you have 0% accept rate, and you have cast 0 votes till now. It's considered rude in this site to not accept answers or not give votes to answers that have clearly helped you. Can you please upvote and/or accept the answers that have been of help? Else, you run the risk of not having any more of your questions not answered.. – [name redacted] 13 hours ago, as of the posting of this comment. So, I believe, at least in this case, the behavior was on purpose. $\endgroup$ – cardinal Sep 5 '11 at 22:38
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    $\begingroup$ I'm not really fond of this line. This is the libre Internet; anyone's free to do what they wish, and that includes accepting lowest-voted answers. Besides, the criterion for accepting an answer is supposedly "most helpful towards the OP", not "answer everyone else on m.SE likes". You could maybe nudge the OP that another answer might be better as the accepted one in the comments, but nothing more. $\endgroup$ – J. M. ain't a mathematician Sep 6 '11 at 1:01
  • $\begingroup$ There's also Bill's mention of high-quality answers not getting that much votes compared to a quickie from a FGITW. Unfortunately, it looks to me that people who re-read questions after having previously voted on an answer aren't that many, so there's that. $\endgroup$ – J. M. ain't a mathematician Sep 6 '11 at 1:04
  • $\begingroup$ I have re-opened the questions. The problematic content from earlier was cleaned up. And there were some vote changes indicated in the comments, in view of which the question should not have been closed in the first place. People who still think the question should be closed should come and vote anew. Ping @Theo. $\endgroup$ – Willie Wong Sep 6 '11 at 11:02
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    $\begingroup$ I still think that the choice of which answer to accept remains the user's call, and that the rest of us can only nudge in comments, but no further. (If I may be pardoned for being colloquial, here's a short and curt version: "What I do with the checkmark's none of your beeswax.") Maybe I'm dense today, but I don't even see why we're talking about this... $\endgroup$ – J. M. ain't a mathematician Sep 6 '11 at 11:08
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    $\begingroup$ P.S. I definitely will not stand for people downvoting questions just because the OP decided to accept an "unpopular" answer. Up/downvote the question/answer based on its own merits! $\endgroup$ – J. M. ain't a mathematician Sep 6 '11 at 11:15
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    $\begingroup$ The only call is to accept an answer so that the robot doesn't bump it up. Which one to accept is what's not on our hands. There's a difference. $\endgroup$ – J. M. ain't a mathematician Sep 6 '11 at 16:22
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    $\begingroup$ @J.M. Keep in mind, upvoted answers will also stop that bumping. $\endgroup$ – Grace Note Sep 6 '11 at 16:57
  • $\begingroup$ That too, @Grace. Thanks for the reminder. $\endgroup$ – J. M. ain't a mathematician Sep 6 '11 at 17:29
  • $\begingroup$ The reason I started this topic was two-fold: I wanted to raise the issue of the specific user trolling his accepts (for which Theo corrected me, in that it does not belong here), and I am confused about the voting/accepting policies this site has. The current question and answer is about neither, it has several unmotivated downvotes, and the comments are filled with no longer relevant posts. Please close/delete/edit the thread, as I don't see the point of maintaining it anymore. $\endgroup$ – TMM Sep 6 '11 at 21:32
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    $\begingroup$ @Thijs, downvoting on meta has a difficult interpretation that depends on context. Usually it seems to indicate a difference of opinion with whatever statement(s) is found in the corresponding question or answer. It usually doesn't mean that the question or answer itself is "incorrect", "bad", "malformed", etc. I wouldn't take it personally. $\endgroup$ – cardinal Sep 6 '11 at 22:52
  • $\begingroup$ @Theo, and everyone: at Theo's request I've removed his and my commetnts that had been at the top of this thread, as they referred to the initial form of the question. $\endgroup$ – Zev Chonoles Sep 6 '11 at 23:36
  • $\begingroup$ @cardinal: What statements can be found in the question that could cause downvotes? But in any case, I would rather have a somewhat wider discussion on the policy of voting and accepting answers, i.e. when it is "none of your beeswax" and when it is appropriate to raise such an issue in, say, the comments to a question. The current question is narrow and can only be addressed well when knowing more details about the specific case, which would make it even more narrow. $\endgroup$ – TMM Sep 6 '11 at 23:59

I would say that we shouldn't do anything - a user is indeed entitled to accept the answers they want. Whether or not one's answer is accepted is of relatively little consequence, anyway: the reputation gain from having an answer accepted is +15, while a genuinely better answer will get more upvotes, which give +10 each, so already an answer with 2 more upvotes than the accepted answer will give more reputation. But if the fact that a user doesn't accept the "actual" best answers causes the people who provide the "actual" best answers to avoid answering that user's questions, that will only hurt the user themself in the long run.

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    $\begingroup$ Of course it is not a big deal, but I don't see how accepting all the "worst" answers is better manners than not accepting any answers. While in the latter case moderators keep reminding the user to please accept and upvote answers to his questions. $\endgroup$ – TMM Sep 5 '11 at 20:26
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    $\begingroup$ @Thi It's not clear to me that the user is attempting to accept the "worst" answers. There are many possible criteria that can be used to judge answers. Not too infrequently the lowest voted answer is the best IMO. There are many reasons better answers get lower votes, e.g. because they appeared later, e.g. because experts visit the site less frequently than FGITWs who sit on RSS feeds, etc. Popularity $\ne$ quality. $\endgroup$ – Bill Dubuque Sep 5 '11 at 21:21
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    $\begingroup$ @Bill: While what you say is quite true in the abstract, it does not appear to be so in this concrete instance. $\endgroup$ – cardinal Sep 5 '11 at 22:41
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    $\begingroup$ There is also the populist badge $\endgroup$ – Willie Wong Sep 5 '11 at 23:36

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