I asked a question on the main site. This answer was the one I liked the most and I accepted it after some minutes because I got it completely and that was how I'd solve the problem myself. After about thirty minutes, another answer was posted which is obviously more complete and informative, I like it more. I toggled that one and I decided to accept the second one.

Is it fair? Should I accept the first one because it was posted sooner? (it's not that important but still)


2 Answers 2


To add to Willie Wong's answer, let me point out that it is probably good practice for most question not to accept an answer "after some minutes", but rather to let the question stand for a while, even if you get an answer that satisfies you.

There are several reasons for this; one is the one you observed: you may get a better answer. Another is that having an accepted answer does, to some extent, discourage (some?) people from answering the question (especially, from spending a lot of time writing an answer). It gives the question the air of being "settled". So keeping the question without an accepted answer in effect "invites" other answers from other points of view.

And it might be nice to give everyone a chance at the question, by letting, say, a day or so go by before accepting (perhaps longer if over the weekend).

There are exceptions, of course: requests for references or for definitions, which likely have a unique answer, can be marked as accepted as soon as the appropriate references/definition is given. But for others, I would recommend waiting at least a couple of hours, if not a full day, before accepting an answer.

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    $\begingroup$ When you see an answer you like, you can just leave a comment along the lines of, "I like this answer, but before accepting it I want to see what other answers may be posted." $\endgroup$ Commented Feb 16, 2012 at 23:40
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    $\begingroup$ So you say open end questions are good? In SO I hate to see a question which has good answers but doesn't marked anyone of them as answer after hours. But may be in math things are little different. $\endgroup$
    – Saeed
    Commented Feb 17, 2012 at 0:50
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    $\begingroup$ @Saaed: No, nobody is talking about "open ended questions". If you mean, "questions with no accepted answers", I don't think it's good in the long run, but there is nothing wrong with letting it lie for a bit (as long as you come back to it). Gerry's suggestions is also a good way to let people know the original poster is monitoring and considering. $\endgroup$ Commented Feb 17, 2012 at 4:14
  • $\begingroup$ @GerryMyerson: I like this suggestion, I'll go for it. Thank you. $\endgroup$
    – Gigili
    Commented Feb 18, 2012 at 8:35

There is no universally accepted rule for this. In fact, I argue that there shouldn't be: if the "accepted answer" were to based on some sort of popular consensus on what is "best" (best can be most complete, soonest, etc.) then it wouldn't be up to you as a user to accept an answer. It would be up to the community to vote for one.

One of the main design points of the SE platform is that you as a user gets to choose which of the answer helps you the most and accept that as the "accepted answer". No one is going to complain that you accepted an answer because it was posted sooner, nor is anyone going to complain that you switched your accepted answer to one that you now feel helps you more.

  • $\begingroup$ I was about to post your second paragraph myself, perfectly my opinion and experience from other SE sites $\endgroup$ Commented Mar 14, 2012 at 12:38

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