I have recently asked what is essentially a reference request question (there is a single yes/no question at the end). I know how important it is to accept a correct answer when it is provided, but I am not sure what it means to provide a correct answer to a reference request. There are a couple of things which I am unclear on:

  1. There could be several different answers, each with a different reference that may be equally suited to the request. Is any one 'more correct' than any of the others?
  2. It could be very time consuming to find each of the references (books may not be available at the OP's library, online, etc.) and check their validity. Is this expected of the OP before accepting an answer?

Any advice or guidelines would be very much appreciated.


The answer to question 2 is, no. Accepting an answer does not imply rejection or denigration of other answers, and won't (well, shouldn't) be interpreted that way. It's your question, and you may accept any answer you feel like accepting, for whatever reason, or for no reason at all. To be on the safe side, it would be a good idea to check out at least one of the answers, and to see that it really does meet your needs, before you do any accepting, and I certainly recommend that you accept an answer that meets your needs.

As for question 1, yes, in some abstract sense one answer may be objectively better than the others, but the voters will take care of that. The questioner is under no obligation to invest any effort in determining which answer is best.

In case of doubt, invoke the Matthew Principle, and accept the answer from the person with the highest reputation.

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ You just say that [last line] because you have 60k rep! :-) $\endgroup$ – Asaf Karagila Sep 15 '12 at 10:12

If you want, you can always write your own community wiki answer and accept that. This could be used, for example, to summarize the various answers that people have given you, or to report which source worked best for you. By doing this you would avoid any impression that you are favoring one valid answer over another.


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