Currently (from what I can see) the rules for ordering the answers in a question is:

  1. Accepted answer (no matter what votes it has)
  2. Answer with most votes numbers below the accepted answer
  3. Answers with less or same votes as answer number 2 on the list
  4. And so on (you get the picture)

But sometimes the accepted answer is outdated, no longer valid, etc, but the person responsible for the question is gone so no correction is done on that, the issue was solved, that was it.

AskUbuntu works best by downvoting and upvoting answers, works great overtime and gives us a very good control and idea over the value of each answer.

Why would an answer with 3 upvotes, 2 downvotes (or something like that, I don't have a good example but we can have a look at it later if necessary, I'm sure these exist) and a check marking it "answered" be above an answer that is updated, working and has plenty of upvotes and good comments?

Similar, if I create a question and answer it myself, mark it accepted 2 days later but proves to be not the best answer because there are answers on that with more upvotes, my answer will be on the top of the list.

It kinda obfuscates the answer below the accepted, specially if the accepted answer is a body of text, no?

Would it not make more sense to have the question with more upvotes on the top of that list, even if it is not the accepted answer?

  • Note that if you accept your own answer to your question it is put above answers with higher votes.
    – N.N.
    Jan 12, 2012 at 13:01
  • Yeah, I wrote that on my question/sugestion. Jan 12, 2012 at 13:10
  • No, my point goes against your list item 1.
    – N.N.
    Jan 12, 2012 at 13:14
  • +1 for highest vote first sort, perhaps weighted to only come into effect if the non-accepted answer is significantly more upvoted than the accepted one.
    – Jjed
    Jan 12, 2012 at 18:44
  • Suggestion. Maybe it would be good to have an additional flag option... so as users can flag in order for revision or some kind of notification to op to revise accepted answer. Time goes on things change... The flag could then be used as users come across obvious examples of what Bruno and others have observed.
    – geezanansa
    Aug 8, 2013 at 13:08

3 Answers 3


I do not know if this is a big problem for Ask Ubuntu. Could you please provide some examples?

The Populist badge can be a rough measure of this problem because it is awarded to answers have lots more votes than the accepted answer. Compared to other sites in the Stack Exchange network the Populist badge has been awarded a relatively few times on Ask Ubuntu:

Maybe the issue you are describing is best solved by adding another sort option. Currently you can sort by active, oldest and votes but the latter sorts accepted answers from other users first. Therefore, it might, given what you describe, make sense to add an option to sort by votes propertly (ignoring accepted answers). However, I do not know if this change is motivated enough.

  • 1
    I would say it is important for the reasons already explained but I have to agree that is not a major issue, just something worth noticing. Jan 13, 2012 at 20:58
  • @BrunoPereira What about my suggestion of adding a sort option?
    – N.N.
    Jan 14, 2012 at 14:32
  • 1
    its perfect, I would also agree on just making the "sort by votes" option just that, without keeping the accepted answer on the top. Jan 14, 2012 at 14:46
  • here is a clear example where that (wrong) accepted answer will stay there until the end of times no matter how many votes it gets: askubuntu.com/questions/73118/starcraft-ii-wine-ironhide/… Jan 17, 2012 at 21:09
  • @BrunoPereira That is but one example. You would make a stronger case if you came up with a list.
    – N.N.
    Jan 17, 2012 at 21:21

The reason is that sometimes the voters get it wrong. The asker gets a pass to select the answer that will appear first. Usually, the asker knows best, because he can verify that the proposed solution works.

An especially important case is when the most-upvoted answer is outdated, or still works but is inferior to a late-coming answer. Votes accumulate, and it can take a very long time for a recent answer to percolate through. Accepting that newer, better answer helps a lot in this situation.

Sure, there are cases where the asker gets it wrong. But putting the accepted answer first helps in far more cases than it hurts.

Note that own answers are always sorted according to the number of votes, even if they are accepted.

  • here is a clear example where that (wrong) accepted answer will stay there until the end of times no matter how many votes it gets: askubuntu.com/questions/73118/starcraft-ii-wine-ironhide/… Jan 17, 2012 at 21:09
  • @BrunoPereira A downvoted accepted answer shows that there's something wrong with it. Hopefully this answer will collect a few more downvotes (if it's indeed wrong, I know nothing about the subject). Your comment below the answer also warns readers that the answer is not so trustworthy. It doesn't matter much that a wrong answer is displayed first if there are such evident signs that something is amiss. Jan 17, 2012 at 21:36
  • Yeah, but for that someone has to catch them, thats is not always possible. I will try to make a list of answers that seem to be wrong or not the best that have not collected much heat and are marked as accepted and add it to the question. Jan 17, 2012 at 21:42
  • 2
    This list of outscored accepted answers may help. The real question is not whether you can find examples (there are plenty), it's whether your examples are the majority. Jan 17, 2012 at 22:10
  • There are "essentially" three situations for us to consider: 1) highest scored answer is correct, but accepted is not 2) accepted answer is correct, but highest scored is not 3) highest scored is the accepted. @Gilles, you ask if 1 is the majority, by which you must mean whether 1 outnumbers 2... but I'm curious.. have you ever seen 2? I have not. May 25, 2012 at 20:39
  • @Chan-HoSuh Yes, I've seen 2 plenty of times. I don't know which is the majority, but even if 1 is the majority, it can't be by much. May 25, 2012 at 20:42

Ever since accept rate is not shown and it is no longer considered good practice to generically advise people to accept more answers, many problems associated with wrongly accepted answers have become far less severe.

I believe this was one of those problems. That is, now that we are no longer telling people to accept for the sake of accepting (which in hindsight, was the unintended effect of the "your accept rate is low" comments that were once considered good), an answer being accepted actually means something.

Since an acccepted answer these days is actually likely to have helped the OP, it makes sense that it is shown first (even if it didn't make sense before). Therefore, this behavior of the system should not be changed.

As a separate, related point: It makes sense to show the answer the OP thought was right before others. The order answers appear when you sort "by votes" is supposed to be an order of curation. Its purpose is to show you what people other than the people who wrote the answers thought of them. What answer the OP liked best, and what answers the community liked best, are independently useful pieces of information. Putting the accepted answer first when it was written by someone other than the OP (which is the system's actual behavior) ensures both pieces of information are always readily available.

Neither acceptance nor high score actually mean an answer is right. The reader will always have to figure that out from a combination of acceptances, upvotes, and answers' actual contents (and the contents of other answers and comments that may refer to them).

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