I have noticed a couple of times that some time after an OP accepts a solution, he changes his mind and accepts another. I am interested in what people think of this. I don't feel it's cricket to do that.

Users should wait a while to see several answers, then make a decision.

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    $\begingroup$ "Users should wait a while ..." How long do you prescribe that one should wait? $\endgroup$ May 8, 2013 at 0:53
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    $\begingroup$ My opinion: I don't think it is a problem. Sometimes we might realize that what we thought was good answer, actually wasn't. This happened to an answer that I provided recently. It turned out that while was roughly right, the answer actually didn't work. I edited the question, and now I am waiting for the OP to uncheck my answer. I think that is fair enough. In general, I would try not to worry too much about the reputation points, if that is what is bothering you. $\endgroup$
    – Thomas
    May 8, 2013 at 1:11
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    $\begingroup$ I agree. A little down time makes sense. I say they wait until the first light of the fifth day, at dawn. $\endgroup$ May 8, 2013 at 1:13
  • $\begingroup$ I still think an OP should allow the answers to come in and to accept judiciously after a few days. Do not accept unless you think you have seen a very satisfactory answer. $\endgroup$ May 8, 2013 at 1:54
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    $\begingroup$ I don't understand the downvotes. I think this is a worthwhile discussion. $\endgroup$ May 8, 2013 at 1:55
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    $\begingroup$ Downvotes mean people disagree with the statement in the question (since there is no question). $\endgroup$ May 8, 2013 at 1:56
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    $\begingroup$ User A answer a question. Two years later, user B posts another answer that spectacularly generalizes the result originally asked, provides references to ongoing work, and links to similar problems. It is a fantastic answer, has nice accompanying graphs, and everybody loves it. Why shouldn't this be rewarded with acceptance? It seems fruitless to try to draw a line on when it is prudent/reasonable/logical/desirable/... to accept an answer, or to try to prescribe a series of conditions that ought to be met before accepting. $\endgroup$ May 8, 2013 at 2:04
  • $\begingroup$ Possible Duplicates, or at least relevant: meta.math.stackexchange.com/questions/2782/… or meta.math.stackexchange.com/questions/8787/… or meta.math.stackexchange.com/questions/6374/… $\endgroup$
    – apnorton
    May 8, 2013 at 2:07
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    $\begingroup$ So let me get this straight: you want (potentially new) users to adhere to some abstract policy on accepted answers? We can't even get new users to wrap their equations in dollar signs and show work! $\endgroup$ May 8, 2013 at 5:13

2 Answers 2


First of all, I sympathize with the OP: seeing -15 unaccept stings a little. Umpire signals a home run, you circle the bases, and then they rule it a ground-rule double after review. Would feel much better to have a double to begin with.

That said, I think un-accepts are merely a symptom of a deeper problem: fragmentation of knowledge between a large number of relatively short answers. A questioner, like an inexperienced driver, would benefit more from thorough directions of one person than from multiple quick suggestions given by a group of well-meaning backseat drivers.

I hold the view that the active sorting of questions is no longer suitable for Math.SE. It's fine for slow-moving sites where active developments should be emphasized. When the site is already like a bustling city, such emphasis on activity leads to some questions becoming hyperactive. They honestly look like a riot in the city. The site ends up with oversupply of similar answers at some places, and their lack at many others — hardly an optimal state.


Let's face it: If a user does not accept an answer within a few days, we'd bully him when he asks his tenth question to please go back and accept some useful answers in his nine older threads. Also, if a user finds an answer useful, he will use it for whatever real life application he was busy with when the problem came up and care less than nothing for accepting that answer a few days later when his focus has moevd away from the problem altogether.


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