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Background

The idea of an "Accepted" answer that can only be awarded by the asker makes a lot of sense on Stack Overflow and other sites where people are trying to solve an immediate problem. There are many technical reasons that a person might not be able to use the top-voted answer, so it's helpful to have a way of privileging a less popular answer that works for their specific situation. It's a win-win because the asker can signal the answer that actually solved their problem and the community can signal the answer that is generally seen as "best". (Often it's the same answer, which is convenient.)

But I've noticed that some sites don't work that way. On a site like History.SE, the asker might be the worst person to pick a canonical answer. Or at least, there's nothing special about the asker since they don't have any unique problems that need to be solved in an answer. In a sense, the asker of a History question is not asking for themselves or their own circumstances, but for anyone who will use Google to search for answers. When Joe Googler discovers that an answer has been accepted by History.SE (we can't expect him to know that accepted answers are chosen by the asker alone), he will naturally assume that the answer has been given some sort of stamp of approval. That can be a mistaken assumption.

I've floated proposals on other sites that have the same profile. My plan is to develop a consensus across a number of sites in order to propose something on Meta.StackExchange.com. A comment on an answer to one of my questions here, spurred me to bring this up here. Obviously, I'm not really active here (yet?), but I get the sense that Accepted answers might be a stumbling block for users not intimately familiar with Stack Overflow. Feel free to vote up or down this question to indicate whether or not you feel this change would help your community. And also, feel free to answer with alternative proposals for consideration.

Proposal

Answers that have been "Accepted" by the asker are no longer pinned to the top of the answer queue. All other effects of accepting an answer will remain the same on History.SE, but the accepted answer will be sorted just like any other answer.

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    Considering that the asker of the question knows what answer solved their problem I don't see why the selected answer wouldn't be on the top. With others sorted accordingly below them. While it sounds like a good idea I am not sure that your premise is sound if you look at it from the OP's point of view where they know what solved their problem. – MichaelF Dec 10 '12 at 21:54
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Is this site ages, I think this problem becomes worse for two reasons: attrition among question-askers and increased quality standards.

There are some very substandard accepted answers from 2011 and 2012 that I don't think would fly now. But OP hasn't signed on to SE since 2013, so we know that he won't change his acceptance even in the face of a newer, much better answer. (OPs rarely do this anyway.)

I think pinned-answers play a role when a question is "hot," and perhaps the fourth answer needs some love, given that it's buried under three lower quality answers that nonetheless racked up votes due to being posted hours earlier.

But once the question goes cold, most viewers of the question are going to find it through a search engine. And when new users visit SE through Google, they may be discouraged by seeing a low-quality answer pinned as a top answer. We want to put our best foot forward.

I would give pinned answers priority if they are significantly newer than higher-voted posts.

I would not give them priority if they are significantly older than higher-voted posts

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The accepted answer has always meant the answer the asker felt was most useful, not necessarily the best answer. This is true for SO, and its true for here. Many sites have examples where the accepted answer is worse than another answer, there is nothing wrong with this as far as the site is concerned. Accepted answers should function the same here as every other site because they mean the same thing as every other site.

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