I asked a question a few moments ago and someone answered straight away. Then, a while later someone else proposed an alternative way of doing the same thing. The answers are not all that different and both are correct and will get me to the same place. For some reason, I much prefer the second proposed way.

Here is my problem: Should I accept the first proposed answer because it was proposed first or is it OK to accept the second way because I prefer it, even though the solutions are pretty similar and will both get me where I want?

3 Answers 3


As I understand it, the criteria for acceptance are entirely at the discretion of the asker. If speed makes an answer better in your eyes, then reward the quickest answer. If speed doesn't enter into what makes you think an answer best, then don't consider speed when deciding which answer, if any, to accept. (Of course, in the case at hand, I'm obviously trying to bend your will and so ought to be ignored.)

  • I think you will get the acceptance and he will get of getting the badge (populist). I will wait a bit more, though, to see if anything else comes up.
    – Vivi
    Commented Jul 31, 2010 at 2:20

You should accept the best answer. It makes no difference which order they were posted in.

Often, the first answer gets the most upvotes, simply because it gets a head start, and that usually leads to it being shown above later answers, which gets it more reads and more upvotes. but that doesn't mean you should also favor the earlier question when accepting an answer.

It's also perfectly acceptable to "un-accept" an answer if a better one shows up.

Again, when accepting an answer, your only responsibility is to pick the most useful answer.

  • that is the problem, neither is more useful than the other, they both get the job done exactly the same... My preference is rather arbitrary.
    – Vivi
    Commented Jul 31, 2010 at 2:21
  • @Vivi: pick a random one? ;)
    – jalf
    Commented Aug 2, 2010 at 12:33

I guess you can accept any answer you like better. Yes, that is totally subjective (and up to you!). The community, of course, is free to vote on whatever answer they better like themselves.

As I've seen so far, the answer chosen by the community is always shown first, while your accepted answer (if it's not the same one) will be the second no matter how many points it has. I might be wrong about this, though, as I'm new to these SOish sites.

  • 2
    I think it is just the opposite: if there is an accepted answer, it is shown first. Then, all answers not accepted are shown in descending order of votes. (I've no idea what determines the order for showing answers with equal votes.)
    – vanden
    Commented Jul 31, 2010 at 0:20
  • @vanden: I thought so, too, but didn't check it when I saw Juan's answer...
    – Vivi
    Commented Jul 31, 2010 at 2:22
  • 1
    @vanden: Answers with equal votes are sorted randomly. (They used to be sorted oldest-first in an old version of the StackExchange software, and this is still how it works on MathOverflow.) Commented Jul 31, 2010 at 2:55
  • @ShreevatsaR: are you sure it is not by reputation of the person who answered?
    – Vivi
    Commented Jul 31, 2010 at 4:19
  • 1
    @Vivi: Yes I'm sure. Just reload the page a few times and you'll see for yourself that it's random. :-) Commented Jul 31, 2010 at 18:59

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