Perhaps there is duplicate of this question somewhere, can't find it.

Situation: OP feels that some of the answers to a question are equally good (other answers are not as good). In such a case, is it a good strategy to accept the most upvoted answer?

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    Strategy? That makes me feel that you are voting to some particular -personal- end. Are you looking for a strategy that is good for you or something else?
    – Mitch
    Sep 20, 2012 at 2:43
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    @Mitch, I don't want to be rude and not accept any of the answers as correct.
    – user13107
    Sep 20, 2012 at 3:19
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    Oh, OK then. If rudeness is your criterion, then upvote the one answer that 'helped you the most'. If they are equally good, then you have the problem of Buridan's Ass. You have to do something, flip a coin, choose the most upvoted. I choose the one whose answerer has the least rep, you know, the underdog.
    – Mitch
    Sep 20, 2012 at 4:03
  • If there's no answer that helped the most, you could choose the one that's the least harmful. Sep 23, 2012 at 23:16

3 Answers 3


I don't think the response with the most upvotes should be chosen by default, because not all answers are voted on equally. Specifically, one user might not submit an answer until several hours after the question was originally posted. Sometimes these answers are very insightful (perhaps previous comments and answers have made the conversation more focused, or maybe the answerer spent a lot of time doing research). Oftentimes, though, these answers don't garner as many upvotes (partly because people have "moved on" to other questions, and these answers get fewer views).

Here's another case when it might be good to select an answer with fewer upvotes: when a user posts an answer that includes a very funny line, and that humor helps it get a lot of upvotes. One recent answer that comes to mind is the "It's time to eat Mat" answer, which had 36 upvotes when I posted this. (In that example, there were no competing answers, so there were no other answers to choose. Moreover, I'm not saying those upvotes are undeserved – Luke's answer isn't merely funny, it's informative, too. I'm only pointing out that it's hardly inconceivable for an "equally good" answer to have fewer upvotes. As a voter, I might be more inclined to upvote the funnier answer; as an O.P., I might look at the answers in a different light, where the chuckle isn't so influential.)


You should accept the "right" answer. In some cases people posting questions here don't know if an answer is right or not. If you feel than an answer is right, then you can accept it. How you choose to decide between two equally-good answers is up to you. I like to pick the answer that is higher quality, or better-worded, or more explanatory, or posted first.

  • I'm not keen on that final "deciding factor". Why should an answer be better regarded simply for having been posted first? Sep 19, 2012 at 17:56
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    @FumbleFingers: I use the timestamp as a deciding factor if two equally-good answers say pretty much the same thing. My reasoning is that whoever posted second could have been copying the first answer posted. (In practice, this is rarely the case; mostly it's people writing answers at the same time and one of them happens to hit 'submit' first, but in that case the system theoretically notifies the person who's still writing...) It's not perfect, but it's better than not accepting either answer.
    – Marthaª
    Sep 19, 2012 at 18:34
  • @FumbleFingers: yes, as Martha says: I sort questions by various quality metrics, then by timestamp. So a later, better question wins over an earlier, poorer one, but two equally good questions get sorted by first-come-first-accepted. Sep 20, 2012 at 2:21
  • @Mr.Shiny, I imagine you meant answers rather than questions? Although it would be nice to be able to "accept" questions as well as answers. Sep 23, 2012 at 23:20

OP specifically asks about a situation where some of the answers to a question are equally good.

In such a context, I think common sense implies that if, say, OP finds two answers to be equally good from his perspective, but an overwhelming majority of ELU votes have gone to one of the two, he should accept that one.

One of the reasons we vote at all is so that others can see where the majority opinion lies. We may not always be "right", but the general principle is two heads are better than one.

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    As a general rule you're right, of course. But there may be exceptions; as J.R. pointed out, often answers get upvoted for reasons other than their quality. It may also be that the reason one answer scored highly is some subtlety that's gone over your head; after all, if you understood the area fully you wouldn't (shouldn't) have asked the question. Overall, I'd say accepting should be for the answer that helped you most, no matter what the scores and quality may be. Sep 21, 2012 at 22:03
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    Well, you can assume that when OP (and I) said equally good, we can only mean from the perspective of the questioner. And since, as you say, he wouldn't be asking if he already knew which of two answers was "most correct", it's reasonable to suppose "good" means helpful, enlightening, convincing, well-expressed, etc. My main concern here was simply to make the point that I don't think people should take much notice of who answered first. Rep scores are a sideshow, in the long run what counts for the site is answer quality. Sep 21, 2012 at 22:37

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