This question of mine:

Help, the "onus" is on me! What do you call whatever it is I'm supposed to do with it?

has several answers. The two most upvoted ones are actually the same answer, presented differently. Regardless of whether I accept one of them (I might not, there's an interesting discussion in the comments): The less-upvoted one is more detailed and well-researched, but the other one got got an initial upvote lead of just 1, and gradually that increased. I tend to believe it is merely by being the first to appear on the page - and people are naturally biased against voting for the second appearance of the same answer.

This is actually a more general issue, I suppose (meta.SE.com?), but at least in this context - can I do something about it? That is, how can I promote the "better duplicate" answer over the "worse duplicate"?

  • Yes, there is one thing you can do: Accepting an answer will sort it to the top of the page when sorted by votes, which is the default sorting unless somebody selects one of the other two methods. That'll have the effect of promoting the one you prefer. I think awarded bounties have a similar effect too.
    – Tonepoet
    Apr 27, 2017 at 21:53
  • @Tonepoet: That only works if one of these answers is the correct one (or rather, if it's the most acceptable) - which is not always the case. In this specific case I'm worried they might only apply a legal setting and there's an ongoing discussion about that.
    – einpoklum
    Apr 27, 2017 at 21:57
  • 1
    @einpoklum "That only works if..." -- but you want to promote a particular answer, if I read the question correctly. For the asker, voting on answers is a pointer to the answer the community thinks will help you best, but accepting an answer is showing which one actually did that. Don't worry about votes particularly: accept the best answer for you.
    – Andrew Leach Mod
    Apr 27, 2017 at 22:10
  • @AndrewLeach: Fair enough, but - suppose I've accepted a third answer; the problem still stands if the non-accepted answers are also worthwhile (which they are, at least partially).
    – einpoklum
    Apr 27, 2017 at 22:19
  • @einpoklum If you accept one answer but want to promote others as helpful, commenting and upvoting are the only ways to do that. Is that what you're getting at? How to mention that the other answers, ones not accepted, are also helpful?
    – Hank
    Apr 27, 2017 at 23:08
  • You can accept the answer that you find most useful for your purposes.
    – ab2
    Apr 28, 2017 at 10:20
  • 1
    As the author of the "short but popular" answer, I'll just mention that it was my first ever post on Stack Exchange. It was intended to supply an answer to your question, and I think it did just that. I'm delighted that I've received so many rep points for it, and hope it helped you with your query. Apr 28, 2017 at 14:24
  • 1
    @Kiloran_speaking: It did, it's a perfectly good answer. I hope I haven't offended you.
    – einpoklum
    Apr 28, 2017 at 16:15
  • @einpoklum.: Not at all. Just glad to help. Apr 28, 2017 at 18:08

3 Answers 3


As Original Poster of the question, you have the power to accept the answer you think best, or to offer a bounty, intending to award it to the answer you favour but do not think best (I believe in some cases bounties can be offered by others, but I am not sure of the details); you do not have the power to put the answers in order beyond that, nor do I see any reason why you should have. Like any other member, you can also upvote or suggest an edit to improve the answer.


I don't like to abandon an answer when the OP has difficulties with it, as is the case here, especially when the answer became unwieldy because of my attempts to improve it. My answer should (and could) be completely rewritten to address all the OPs concerns, but I am going on a trip starting tomorrow, and won't have the time to do anything more with it until mid-May.

If there is an answer that solves the OP's problem, he should accept it. If there is no answer that solves his problem, then he is under no obligation to accept an answer. If he wants a fresh perspective on the question, he can offer a bounty. The question is interesting and has provided several of us with quite a few rep points and a challenge, for which we should be grateful to the OP.


Where's the problem? Select the answer you preferred.

It could be the shorter one, which normally appeals to the TL;DR crowd, it's to the point. Or choose the more detailed post whose answer doesn't immediately pop up, precisely because it is longer and contains more detail at the specific request of the OP, if I understood correctly. You therefore have one user who listened, and responded to the request for clarification, compared to another who has not edited their answer in any way.

There is a third option—perhaps safer—don't choose any of the two, there is no obligation.

If you want to influence visitors to select the more detailed answer, then accept it, before the question runs out of steam. It's rare for a question on EL&U to have a shelf life greater than 48 hours. By shelf-life, I mean its viewing peak.

  • The problem is that it's not clear I'm going to be selecting any of these two answers. But it's a pretty good (duplicate) answer, still.
    – einpoklum
    Apr 28, 2017 at 8:09
  • 1
    @einpoklum I answered the: That is, how can I promote the "better duplicate" answer over the "worse duplicate"? But if you're not convinced by any of the two answers posted, don't accept. I wouldn't call either of them duplicates, they are quite different in content and detail. Consider also that the total number of upvotes is approaching 70, which suggest that the vox popoli have chosen their favourite.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Apr 28, 2017 at 11:24
  • 2
    @einpoklum I hadn't noticed, you posted an answer yourself. It's "legal" to accept your answer, there's no rule that forbids this.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Apr 28, 2017 at 12:03

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