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Stack Overflow has just been updated to no longer pin the accepted answer to the top of the answer list.

Now on Meta.SE, the staff are seeking our site-specific feedback on whether we'd want to do the same here: Unpinning the accepted answer from the top of the list of answers

Would you like to have the accepted answer unpinned on your site?

We can change the way the engine sorts answers in site settings. We would like to hear from you all if it is something you want to see on your site. (Please let me acknowledge in advance that we will not be able to run a test on each site.)

Currently we are planning to move forward with one of two scenarios, based on your feedback:

  1. Unpin the accepted answer on all SE sites by default and pin it back on a few sites that ask us to do so.
  2. Keep the accepted answer pinned on all SE sites by default and unpin it on a few sites that ask us to do so.

Please let us know what you think will work best for your site! If you can discuss this question with your community it would be awesome. We are going to collect feedback before the end of September 19th.

What is our stance on the subject?

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    \$\begingroup\$ This SEDE query compiles the 2800 or so Q&As that would be affected by the change. \$\endgroup\$ Sep 9 at 12:26
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    \$\begingroup\$ RPG.SE has 30,011 questions with accepted answers, and 2,818 questions that would be affected by the change, which is about 9.4% of all questions, so it is a non-negligible change. \$\endgroup\$ Sep 9 at 14:09
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    \$\begingroup\$ I'm not sure why this matters too much. There are sorting options on the user end. Stack should just add a checkbox for "accepted answer at top." And it looks like many of the answers over on their Meta are saying just that. \$\endgroup\$
    – Jason_c_o
    Sep 10 at 20:15
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    \$\begingroup\$ Since this is discussing a wide impact, if not necessarily deep, I've opted to feature this to up the visibility. \$\endgroup\$
    – Someone_Evil Mod
    Sep 14 at 18:03

10 Answers 10

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I think this would be a neutral-to-positive change for us.

The accepted answer exists to signal something specific: “this is the solution that I went with, that worked for me.” It originated on Stack Overflow because only one person is in the position to confirm that the code they were given compiled & fixed their issue.

RPG.SE also inherited that behaviour simply because we inherited the same Q&A code, regardless of whether that feature solves specific issues for us or not. We don't have code to compile; we have rules questions, social problems, etc. This meta gives us an opportunity to consider from a blank slate: which option actually makes sense in the scope of RPG Q&A?

On RPG.SE specifically, I think the most helpful thing is to not pin the accepted solution, and just let the highest voted answer float to the top always.

Like, sure, the querent chose this specific solution to solve their specific case. But the highest voted solution is the one the community hive mind is recommending, in general, for people experiencing this problem, in general. And that's what we should be presenting to site visitors as the first solution they see.

Stack Overflow's arguments against pinning the first answer generally apply to us too.

Please unpin the accepted answer from the top (on Meta SO) made a case against several commonly provided reasons for pinning the accepted answer under the heading “The argument against unpinning”. They generally apply here too.

I'll mainly compare against rules & social questions, which are the biggest two categories we see on our site.

  • [Reason to keep it pinned:] The accepted answer actually works for one person

    [Counter-argument:] But the Stack Overflow answers are not ultimately there for that one person. They are there for the countless visitors who come later. Ninety-nine percent of the time that I upvote a non-accepted answer, I am also signifying that it solved my problem or at least helped me get one step closer to solving it.

The counter-argument, which is in favour of not pinning, applies here.

For rules questions, the highest-scored answer will be whichever the community recommends as the most correct answer with the most effective explanation. Whatever the querent accepted is usually not relevant to that—it might just be the explanation that worked for them, but if that's out of sync with the most upvoted answer, then clearly the most upvoted was a more suitable explanation for most readers. The most upvoted one is the one we'd recommend for most visitors.

For social questions, the highest-scored answer will be one that we'd generally recommend for most people who might be experiencing the problem we're seeing. The querent will accept the solution that worked for them in their specific social dynamic, but there's no reason to pin that to the top above what we recommend as a generality.

  • [Reason to keep it pinned:] The accepted answer is tested (*)

    [Counter-argument:] It is true that many people will upvote answers without testing them. However, if a highly voted answer contains a mistake, it will start collecting comments saying so. If that mistake is not corrected, other people start adding answers that are correct. The voting system starts moving those correct answers to the top. This seems fair to me.

The counter-argument, which is in favour of not pinning, applies here.

In general, all answers are expected to be backed up by citations of fact or experience—all of them should already be tested. Meanwhile, the highest voted is the one filtered through community knowledge and experience that gets vetted as effective. (In bad cases, as merely an answer that seems to have truthiness, but that's when we'll start nagging someone to back their answer up.) The accepted answer status doesn't really add anything to this—we should always present what the community's vetting.

Maybe an answer found one specific approach solved their specific situation, but again, what we're upvoting is what we'd recommend generally.

  • [Reason to keep it pinned:] The accepted answer solves the actual problem described in the question (*)

    [Counter-argument:] Fine, but when I use Stack Overflow I don't care if my problem is exactly the same in every detail as the OP. Sometimes the OP uses a title that leads search engines and thousands of future visitors to expect a different answer than the one that solved the OP's problem (example). There is no need to keep those kind of answers on top anymore. If I want to find them I can scroll down.

The counter-argument, which is in favour of not pinning, applies here.

In general, we're recommending that the most upvoted answer will solve peoples' problems, an we can filter that through our own knowledge or experience.

I'm beginning to repeat myself already and I'm only three points in, so I'll move on from this section.

Summary: not pinning the accepted answer means we present the one the community recommends, and that's good

Pinning the accepted answer isn't a value-add. We don't have code to compile. It's valuable to indicate what worked for the querent personally, but anytime the accepted answer and the highest-voted answer are out of sync, it's almost certainly more worthwhile to present the community's overall recommended solution.

This way, readers are given, as a priority, the general case the community would recommend.

In cases the highest voted answer and accepted answer are different, The specific case that worked for the querent is not necessarily the most helpful to present to readers—it's just the specific case that worked for one person. We should prefer presenting the option the community generally preferred overall first.

Tangentially: Pinning a non-top answer is sometimes a valuable feature, but the accepted answer serves that purpose poorly

One of the things the accepted answer does for us is resolve situations where the top answer is, somehow, actually not the most advisable one: maybe HNQ caused us trouble; maybe that answer's obsolete and a new or better one has arisen. There's value in being able to pin an answer that isn't the top-rated one. However, I'd raise the question:

  • Why do we provide the power to pin that answer to exclusively one user (where even the mods can't override it) on a site where the userbase curates everything? That one user might not even be here anymore.
  • Why do we conflate a “this is the answer you should look at” pin with the “this is the answer the OP went with” marker? Why should that user be expected to switch the marker with answers they didn't go with? Isn't this overloading the pin to do multiple jobs?
  • When this situation occurs, doesn't that mean the Stack should be rethinking the way it handles votes (especially in light of obsolescence)? Isn't this a prompt to the Stack to rethink how it handles the impact of HNQ, or Fastest Gun in the West, or other related voting problems?

I think that in a world the accepted answer is no longer being pinned by default, we're either unaffected or better off in the majority of cases, and in the rest, the Stack should finally look to implementing a feature for pinning a recommended answer that's finally controlled by the community, not just by the post author.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I feel neutral-to-positive about this answer. \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    Sep 9 at 13:41
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    \$\begingroup\$ Perhaps another point in favor is that rules for RPGs change due to errata. What was the correct answer for the querent at a point of time may have since officially changed. Many times, the original querent is no longer around to change the checkmark, but the votes can reflect the more correct answer. \$\endgroup\$ Sep 9 at 15:23
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    \$\begingroup\$ I am not sure that I agree with your fourth paragraph in the opening section, but I need to do more thinking to arrive at why I feel that way. Lots of good food for thought here. \$\endgroup\$ Sep 9 at 19:57
  • \$\begingroup\$ If any answer other than the highest-voted answer is going to be on top, then maybe it should perhaps be based on net total reputation generated by the answer (so treating upvotes as +10 and downvotes as -2, factoring in bounties, and adding in the +15 from being accepted). \$\endgroup\$ Sep 9 at 20:51
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    \$\begingroup\$ @ObliviousSage That seems overly complicated and without any good reasoning. \$\endgroup\$
    – TylerH
    Sep 10 at 14:04
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    \$\begingroup\$ @TylerH I'm not necessarily arguing for it, merely saying that that approach makes more sense to me than putting the accepted answer on top. \$\endgroup\$ Sep 10 at 14:13
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    \$\begingroup\$ If even one Jeremy Crawford tweet-only accepted answer would be unpinned, the change would be worth it. \$\endgroup\$ Sep 12 at 1:33
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    \$\begingroup\$ FWIW, since writing this I'm more in favour of keeping the pin. I'm not going to change this answer since it's representative of other peoples' stances, but it's not my stance presently. \$\endgroup\$ Sep 15 at 14:46
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    \$\begingroup\$ "If that mistake is not corrected, other people start adding answers that are correct. The voting system starts moving those correct answers to the top." On some level, I want to like this idea for rpg.se, but my experience with this site is not this. The combination of rpg.se's questions having high amounts of subjectivity (even in the most objective cases, compared to coding ones) and the smaller userbase means that we are not good at that sort of 'sorting' via votes, especially for more controversial questions (where this sort of thing would matter). \$\endgroup\$ 2 days ago
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Yay math.

My purpose here is to provide some statistics to help you make a decision. I've got it started, if there are other metrics you want to see, leave a comment and I will run the numbers and update this post. I will not be making an actual recommendation, and I'm not going to leave a ton of comments with these stats.

  • Of 30,000 questions with accepted answers, 2,555 would be affected (8.5%).
  • Of affected question, only 35 have negative scoring accepted answers (1.3% of affected)
  • Average accepted answer score: 10.2
  • Average highest answer score: 18.3
  • Average difference: 8.1
  • Median accepted answer score: 7
  • Median highest answer score: 12
  • MedianAverage difference: 4
  • Number of questions where highest score outscored accepted by 10 or more: 612 (24.0% of affected)
  • Number of questions where highest score outscored accepted by 20 or more: 235 (9.2% of affected)
  • Number of questions where highest score outscored accepted by 50 or more: 43 (1.7% of affected)
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    \$\begingroup\$ It would also be interesting to know the number of questions where more than one answer outscores the accepted answer. \$\endgroup\$
    – Akixkisu
    Sep 10 at 16:46
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Akixkisu I may have oversold my abilities here, I'll try to get that for you :P \$\endgroup\$ Sep 10 at 16:49
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Akixkisu I have put in a request with the SEDE gurus of the universe, I'll get you those numbers when they are available. \$\endgroup\$ Sep 10 at 18:05
  • \$\begingroup\$ Awesome, thank you. \$\endgroup\$
    – Akixkisu
    Sep 10 at 18:06
  • \$\begingroup\$ Correction (to my deleted comment), looks like I had deleted an important line in the modified query. Should be 381 HNQ with 232 of them having the accepted answer created outside of the HNQ timeframe. \$\endgroup\$
    – willuwontu
    Sep 10 at 21:45
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Akixkisu This query returns the number of higher voted answers per question (1062 questions in total). ThomasMarkov, you might be interested in the fact that it returns a different count than you have currently. Eliminating the duplicated 2555, I found that it included other questions that would be affected, but I'm unsure why your original query didn't. \$\endgroup\$
    – willuwontu
    Sep 13 at 19:21
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    \$\begingroup\$ @willuwontu That Q you linked has an accepted answer by a deleted user, so that is almost certainly interfering with the query I used when I accounted for self answers. \$\endgroup\$ Sep 13 at 19:25
  • \$\begingroup\$ What is the universe of questions of the measures of central tendency that you include. It's all the questions on the site, or only the questions that would be affected by the change? \$\endgroup\$
    – Braiam
    Sep 16 at 19:22
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Braiam Those metrics concern only those questions that would be affected by the change. \$\endgroup\$ Sep 16 at 19:23
  • \$\begingroup\$ Refined my query a bit more. Interestingly, only about a third (947/2598 ~= 36%) of the accepted answers had higher scoring answers posted after them. \$\endgroup\$
    – willuwontu
    yesterday
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Pinning keeps the focus on the exact question—especially playstyle

I commented on doppelgreener’s answer for unpinning with

I feel neutral-to-positive about this answer,

and that’s true—it’s a good answer, laying out very reasonable points in favor of unpinning the accepted answer.

But the more I think about it, the more it just doesn’t sit right with me. While I feel pretty good about doppelgreener’s answer, I don’t feel very good about actually taking the step it proposes.

There are other answers that capture some decent reasons to be leery of the change—I quite like Glazius’s about hope, and agree with others’ answers about the idea that there is value to giving the querent themselves a little bit of special privilege. And part of it is just how few situations it’s actually going to change, as Thomas Markov has determined for us. But I don’t feel that these things necessarily capture what I’m concerned about.

It applies to very few cases, and does little harm either way

This seems like a big change, that fundamentally affects how we regard querents, without actually improving the site very much. It applies to a small number of questions. That, I think, should give everyone some pause.

The difference seems primarily philosophical, not practical. It’s not a question of what will make the best site for users, because neither choice is going to substantially affect users’ experiences. But it is a fairly large question of what we think of the people asking questions.

Everyone is the world’s foremost expert on their own opinion

I vehemently disagree with the whole idea of "querent power". The querent most often isn't an expert.

This comment is more what I’m concerned about—it’s certainly true that the querent may well not be an expert in the subject matter, and that they may accept an answer “incorrectly”—there are definitely accepted answers that have irked me. But they are an expert on what it was they wanted—they are in fact the only expert on that. This community has, I think, more than a little bit of an issue when it comes to assuming we know better what people want—we don’t. I mean, look at this discussion, we have maybe 30 people paying attention to this.

We must take the position that the world’s foremost expert on what X wants is X, themselves. To do otherwise—to determine that we, in fact, know better what it is they truly want—is the height of hubris. That’s a vice that this community has been guilty of from time to time, but at least people had the option of promoting the answer that actually engages with their question as they see it.

So yeah, I think we should show some small, minor deference to querents in this—but the green checkmark alone is insufficient even for that. Do you even notice when the accepted answer is a self-answer and something after the first answer is accepted? I certainly don’t. That might as well not exist. Pinning an answer seems like an appropriate level, to me.

Plurality of playstyles, frame challenges, unpinned accepted answers—pick 2

Generally speaking, we prefer frame challenges to also answer the question straight. We do not require that they do so—and even when a frame challenge does, very often it’s a quick and simple answer that serves as much or more to illustrate the point of the challenge than it does to address the question.

This is acceptable because the querent can always choose another answer—and that answer gets pinned to the top, making it “the” answer insofar as we have one. Getting the top slot is what answerers “compete” for, again insofar as it’s a competition. The incentive structure of the site is based around that slot far, far more than it is around reputation. If it weren’t so, no one would object to the pinning of accepted answers in the first place, I’d think.

So the frame challenge policy itself states that they are “risky.” In fact, this isn’t “just” a statement—it is a part of that policy. The reason why frame challenges work the way they do—and are allowed in the form that they are—is because they are risky. This risk—that your answer won’t ever be considered for the top slot because of what it is—is crucial to the functioning of that policy. This is because frame challenges explicitly ignore parts of the question—that is, they decide to effectively answer a different question.

As long as the querent can reject that—and say “this is actually the answer to my question”—then this works out fine. But if the querent cannot “reject” the frame challenge—that is, if the community can “overrule” them and push a frame challenge into the top slot, and say “no, this is the answer to your question,” we have a big problem.

As doppelgreener put it,

FWIW, since writing [the pro-unpinning answer] I'm more in favour of keeping the pin [...] keeping our focus on the querent before our peers is ... probably really important.

Because one of the most prominent (in the sense of noticeable; I don’t have numbers) cases of such a frame challenge is over concerns of playstyle. That is, we have frame challenges that say “well, if you just abandoned that playstyle, this wouldn’t be a problem anymore.” If the playstyle in question is unpopular, that answer can very easily out-score even a good, strong “straight” answer to the question. We have numerous examples like this.

If the frame challenge convinces the querent, then fair enough. Sometimes querents don’t realize there even are other playstyles, or that the problems they’re facing are due to the playstyle they use but haven’t examined—sometimes a frame challenge like that can make someone realize the playstyle they’re using isn’t really suited to their interests. But if it doesn’t, then pushing a frame challenge to the top of the answers effectively invalidates their question. It says “the best answer to this question is to not ask this question.” That is a huge problem. And if answers know that they can achieve that result even without the querent buying in—that is, if they know they’re answering for the community’s preferences even when those explicitly disregard the needs of the querent—then the querent doesn’t get to define what the question is, anymore. Because if “the answer” is explicitly not answering the exact question, but rather answering a different one, and we decide it is nonetheless “the answer,” then what we have decided is that the question is actually different from what the querent said.

The querent decides that, not the community. Like I said, if they are convinced by the frame challenge, fine. But there must be an opportunity for them to not. And the incentive structure of the site—the “prize” that orients answers—has to reflect that. And the checkmark isn’t nearly as good a prize as the top slot is, so if the top slot is up for grabs even without the checkmark, the incentive structure says ignore the checkmark and go for the top slot.

What this all means is that we cannot support a plurality of playstyles, if questions about unpopular playstyles can be overruled by frame challenges pushing popular playstyles that don’t have the same problems. Pinning the accepted answer is one way to accomplish that—it leaves the ultimate determination of what it means to answer the question to the querent. But if we no longer pin the accepted answer, then we simply cannot have frame challenges any longer—at least not about playstyle, we can’t.

And that, I think, is a death knell here—because we can’t enforce that. By definition, we are talking about popular frame challenges—downvotes aren’t going to cut it. We can all agree that we’re supposed to downvote such frame challenges, and it likely won’t matter. Meta doesn’t have remotely that much influence—main site has a whole lot of people voting who are never going to look here. That means a ton of unpopular work for diamond moderators to delete high-rated answers—which is something that really should never happen in the first place. But there’s no other mechanism available to prevent it. And even if we succeed, we’ll still be worse off—because we won’t have the opportunity to even try to suggest that maybe the querent might be better off considering other ways of looking at the game.

We are not in the same position as Stack Overflow

Stack Overflow questions are near-purely objective. When the community disagrees with the querent, it almost-certainly does so because that answer is objectively, often measurably, superior to the answer the querent chose. Compilers and standards specifications create objective, unambiguous right and wrong answers.

Moreover, the vast majority of Stack Overflow interactions consist of someone coming from Google and copying-and-pasting the first thing they see. People go to Stack Overflow to get something working. There’s likely a time-pressure, and most likely, this isn’t fun for them—they have a job to get done.

That is not our site. Our content is usually subjective—and differences of opinion exist. Most times, therefore, if the community disagrees with the querent, it’s over matters of opinion—not actual objective quality—because that’s largely what we deal with. Expert opinion is valuable and useful—if it weren’t, this site wouldn’t serve much purpose—but it’s not the same as fact. On Stack Overflow, it’s very hard to imagine “the community” being substantially wrong about the correct answer to a question. Here, it’s fairly hard to imagine “right” or “wrong” even strictly applying in the first place. As Thomas Markov puts it, nothing here is going to be 100% objective—we don’t have any analogue to “this answer doesn’t even compile.”

And here, these are games. It’s a hobby. Most people are here, I think it’s safe to say, because they are interested in this subject. They enjoy reading about it. They’re much, much more likely to read more of what’s presented, rather than just going with the first thing they see. Especially when the second answer they come to has a higher number than the one before it. I think therefore that the harm of pinning a “wrong” answer—insofar as we even buy that there is such a thing—is vastly less here than it would be there.

So the fact that Stack Overflow did it doesn’t really mean very much here, I think. We’re in a different situation. It doesn’t mean that taking the same step is automatically wrong, but it does mean that it’s not automatically right. And I think there are some reasons here to hesitate.

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    \$\begingroup\$ It's probably worth pointing out in your last section that for the most part, even our most objective questions have some measure of subjectivity. Questions like "how does this rule work" and "how do these two rules work together" definitely seem objective, but we know we cannot treat the rules as axioms from which to logically deduce theorems and propositions. There is no "this answer doesn't even compile" for us. \$\endgroup\$ Sep 14 at 14:38
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    \$\begingroup\$ +1, and I'm tempted to -1 just so I can +1 it again. Thank you for taking the time to say most everything I wanted to say better than I actually managed to say it. \$\endgroup\$
    – screamline
    Sep 14 at 14:48
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    \$\begingroup\$ This is a pretty good response. In thinking about it, Stack Overflow is trying to solve a problem of obsolescence (among other issues) that's taken ten years to become quite significant, and we just don't have such an issue demanding this for its fix. On the other hand, keeping our focus on the querent before our peers is ... probably really important. \$\endgroup\$ Sep 14 at 16:45
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    \$\begingroup\$ @doppelgreener “keeping our focus on the querent before our peers” is so crucial, thank you for that phrasing. I think that gets at the heart of what I’m worried about—answers that cater more to the perceived preferences of the community than to the stated needs of the querent. We see it sometimes—not often!—and pinning the accepted answer gives the querent a response. I don’t want to lose that. \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    Sep 14 at 17:20
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    \$\begingroup\$ I think this is the best response from the group of answers that oppose the correction to the problem of answered pinned by querents. It takes the only argument (hope) and adds the StackExchange-opposed philosophy of arguing that the querent should be able to pin their answer to demonstrate that their and only their solution is more important than all of the votes of their peers combined. I oppose this philosophy of dominance and think that we should only empower the querent with a checkmark to clearly signal their stance without the noise of dominating their peers. \$\endgroup\$
    – Akixkisu
    Sep 15 at 14:01
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Akixkisu Food for thought: querents already have—and are supposed to have—some of that “dominance.” The community isn’t allowed to just take over questions and do whatever they like with them—the community is expected to adhere to the intent and meaning of the querent when editing the question, and querents are, correctly, given huge deference in defining what the question is. This is an extension of that. And changing that is, I think, problematic—the querent being in charge of what the question is keeps us honest, and ensures we are actually answering the real question. \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    Sep 15 at 14:04
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    \$\begingroup\$ In other words, the querent isn’t, shouldn’t be, and honestly probably couldn’t be, “just another user.” It is incorrect to think of them as strictly and solely “peer” to everyone else involved in the question. That’s not the Stack Exchange model. \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    Sep 15 at 14:05
  • \$\begingroup\$ @KRyan Yes, and I think that we already empower them in enough ways - many of these are meaningful, you list quite a few of them, but I believe that removing the pin will be a net good for the community. Changing this positioning of their answer will keep most of the querents privileges intact. If this discussed removing all of those other empowerments, then we would be in a problematic space. \$\endgroup\$
    – Akixkisu
    Sep 15 at 14:12
  • \$\begingroup\$ @KRyan We offer the best service and empowerment to the querent that enables them to express themselves, they can showcase their input, and we cater to them, and we hand them the tool of choosing their favoured answer. By empowering the community to rank answers, we have a perfect balance that lets us showcase what our expert community wants you to see without losing any catering to the querent. By pinning the querent gains the power to remove that voting-based ranking, this is unnecessary as the querent can already express themselves thoroughly with all of their powers. \$\endgroup\$
    – Akixkisu
    Sep 15 at 18:15
  • \$\begingroup\$ "But they are an expert on what it was they wanted—they are in fact the only expert on that" - This is true but I'm not sure this is good. A querent that accepts an answer that says what they want to hear but is harmful or wrong advice isn't good for the site. What the querent wants and what they should actually do are two different things, and I think the site would be better if it did promote the second, not the first. In any case, I understand from where you are coming from. \$\endgroup\$
    – T. Sar
    Sep 17 at 13:51
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    \$\begingroup\$ @T.Sar No, it isn’t—because if it’s harmful advice, it gets a lot of attention and therefore a lot of downvotes. I don’t think anyone is misled by accepted answers that are at −5. Having to scroll past that answer is mildly annoying, but that’s a small harm. And I really think keeping the focus on the querent is crucial. We also have questions where the community basically didn’t like where the querent was coming from, and pushes the answer that basically tells OP they’re wrong for wanting to know that—that stuff is toxic, and I don’t want that to be “correct” per the incentive structure. \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    Sep 17 at 13:54
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    \$\begingroup\$ (To be clear, I am talking about examples where what was requested was not harmful, and “straight” answers are also well-regarded—just not as well-regarded as the popular “that’s dumb.” It gets into a ton of playstyle stuff—several questions where “How can I handle this situation in this playstyle?” get answered with something that gets very close to saying outright “you shouldn’t use that playstyle cuz it’s dumb.”) \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    Sep 17 at 13:57
  • \$\begingroup\$ "Everyone is the world’s foremost expert on their own opinion" While you're absolutely right in the logic used here, it's based on what I think is a wrong assumption that SE sites are meant to answer the querent - and a site like RPGSE has a lot less strictly correct answers and a lot more "this is how I handle it in my games" answers - the SE sites goal is to create a knowledge base from questions, and consensus answers are more useful than the one a single user liked best, even if that was the querent. \$\endgroup\$
    – Andrew
    2 days ago
  • \$\begingroup\$ (Cont) And the idea of putting the querent first for their needs becomes somewhat moot, since the querent has to have made their decision to give out the accepted check mark, their needs in asking the question have already been (as completely as possible) served, now the question and answers shift to a general knowledge base for the community at large, and I don't think we should give one person the power to decide what is "best" by pinning an answer. \$\endgroup\$
    – Andrew
    2 days ago
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Unpinning answers from the top of the list devalues answers and disempowers querents.

As it is, a querent's power to choose an answer has relatively little meaning. A selected answer moves to the top of the list, making it more visible -- even if it has fewer upvotes than all other answers. By accepting a less-upvoted answer, a querent can signal, "This answer might not be popular, but it answered my question more effectively than the others, and so I want it to be most visible." From the querent's perspective, putting aside system-oriented events that take place once an answer is selected, that's basically it.

Unpinning accepted answers means the querent's choice of answer is all but meaningless. All other answers with more upvotes will float upward, meaning users will see them first. On the whole, users are likely to see the most-upvoted answer and take it as gospel, even if the querent accepted a different answer that more effectively answered the question.

That's the essence of my objection: SE is not a popularity contest. We aren't Reddit. Visibility here isn't just about which answer happens to include the funniest turn of phrase or to espouse the view that most mollifies the masses. We're about which answer is best. And we invest the querent with the unique privilege to decide what "best" means even if we disagree with it. If we take that privilege away, we might as well switch off the whole accepted-answer mechanism.

As for SO, I don't see a reason for RPG.SE to follow in their footsteps. There is, I suppose, a kind of sense in SO's choice to unpin: code has an objective right-or-wrong-ness. It either works or it doesn't, and anyone who can replicate a piece of code in a given circumstance can see whether it works. In that sense, upvotes on SO might theoretically function as signals of "I agree that the code solution here demonstrably does what the querent needs it to do." On RPG.SE, some of our questions might follow that analytical track, but most don't. We're different, and our systems should reflect that.

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    \$\begingroup\$ ‘We're about which answer is best. And we invest the querent with the unique privilege to decide what "best" means even if we disagree with it.’ But like—why though? Wouldn't we also be quite justified in just leaving that invested with the community? \$\endgroup\$ Sep 9 at 13:07
  • 12
    \$\begingroup\$ I vehemently disagree with the whole idea of "querent power". The querent most often isn't an expert. The querent will pick whatever answer they like the most, yes, but that can be a terrible answer that just happened to say the things the querent wanted to hear. The questions aren't for a single person - they are for the community, and as such I would prefer the answers on top to be the most voted ones. \$\endgroup\$
    – T. Sar
    Sep 9 at 13:12
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ @Akixkisu FWIW Self-answer accepts are not sorted to the top, but outdated ones... yeah, though there is the idea that perhaps mods could have the power to change the accepted answer, but I doubt that'll go through \$\endgroup\$
    – Medix2
    Sep 9 at 13:18
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    \$\begingroup\$ These are not merely arguments for unpinning accepted answers, but arguments for doing away with accepted answers entirely. Why do we incent querents to accept an answer by offering them reputation for doing so, if not because we think there is value in it? \$\endgroup\$
    – screamline
    Sep 9 at 13:21
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    \$\begingroup\$ @screamline I'll point out that that assumes we should be giving reputation for accepts; if there isn't value in accepting then the reputation is simply also misplaced so it can't really be used as a defense \$\endgroup\$
    – Medix2
    Sep 9 at 13:24
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ @Akixkisu As for outdated answers, that argument goes both ways. Imagine that the highly-upvoted answer on an old question is, say, invalidated by a later rules change, and a user submits a new, correct answer. Absent accepting-and-pinning, that new answer won't show up at the top of the list until it's upvoted enough to eclipse the old, wrong answer. \$\endgroup\$
    – screamline
    Sep 9 at 13:39
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ I think I understand the point you're making, but I feel like it's basis lies in an assumed issue that folks whose ability to be witty will develop answers that are witty but not correct; thereby surpassing folks whose answers are correct but not witty. I don't believe I see that issue as an issue here on RPG.SE. Would you be able to cite some examples to support this? \$\endgroup\$ Sep 9 at 15:17
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ @Pyrotechnical I wish I could. But "witty" and "correct" oversimplify the issue. "Witty" might stand for any of countless reasons why an answer might become popular that have nothing to do with its substance: it might be the funniest, the most relatable, the most unexpected, the most respectful of some beloved trope (or otherwise least controversial), or simply posted by a high-rep user to whom others defer. Likewise, you're using "correct" when the real issue is what's best according to all the different criteria for evaluating good answers. How do I tell what was behind any given choice? \$\endgroup\$
    – screamline
    Sep 9 at 16:42
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ @screamline This is probably the canonical example of a joke answer that ends up being the highest scoring. \$\endgroup\$ Sep 9 at 17:16
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    \$\begingroup\$ "we invest the querent with the unique privilege to decide what "best" means" I can understand your confusion, since that's what the checkmark tooltip indicates. However, the tour and other help guidance (and Meta discussions) explain that "Accepting doesn't mean it's the best answer, it just means that it worked for the person who asked." Also, "SE is not a popularity contest." and "We're about which answer is best." These two statements are antithetical. The highest-voted answer is, by that metric at least, exactly what "best" means. \$\endgroup\$
    – TylerH
    Sep 9 at 21:14
  • 4
    \$\begingroup\$ We're "not like reddit" because we don't support chitchat, not because voting doesn't work. We actually are like reddit when it comes to post scoring; top responses in terms of score are the ones that show up first by default on both reddit and SE sites. \$\endgroup\$
    – TylerH
    Sep 9 at 21:17
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ @TylerH Hardly, it means it's the most popular among the hive mind. That's all that voting actually does, particularly on the softer stacks. \$\endgroup\$ Sep 9 at 21:57
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ @TylerH "the community hive mind" is one of the colloquialisms for the cumulative action of the community on this site, yes. We'll also use "the community consciousness" for the same. (It is not to my knowledge intended to be used as derogatory, it's just a shorthand.) \$\endgroup\$ Sep 10 at 15:14
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    \$\begingroup\$ @doppelgreener It's both. None of us is as stupid as all of us is a thing that still happens, but for the most part a lot of votes usually indicates good quality. I remember a few years back seeing the infamous SO post linked to in a blog that was highly voted and quite simply wrong. It if can happen once, it can happen again ... \$\endgroup\$ Sep 10 at 15:22
  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ @TylerH 'wisdom of the crowd' is oversold. The evidence is my entire life of watching and experiencing how groups and mobs work. For a site like a Stack it's 'good enough' but to oversell its virtues is IME a mistake. \$\endgroup\$ Sep 10 at 19:07
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A reason to be against it

While usually the highest voted answer and the accepted answer have a high correlation, those cases where the accepted answer (which satisified the question) and a very highly voted answer differ widely in votes received is worth seeing "above the fold" (in the first few answers). That contrast is noteworthy, and in the case I'll offer would have not been apparent: the top voted answer has over one hundred votes, the accepted answer over 30. This isn't the only example, but it's one that I think illustrates what I am talking about clearly since there were two answers to the question that outscored the accepted one).

It appears that Thomas Markov ran a few numbers and found that nine out of ten times, roughly, highest voted and accepted coincide. Fine. Nothing happens in those cases. It's where it's not the case that some learning and some intriguing comparisons can be made.

I'd rather not lose that visual contrast where it does occur between an accepted answer and the most highly voted.

Recommendation: keep pinning the accepted answer to the top, regardless of who has the most votes.

This 'initiative' adds no value to this site, but it would lose the value of that contrast in those cases where it now appears "above the fold" for that class of answers.

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    \$\begingroup\$ You aren't losing the ability to accept answers which marks them uniquely with that green checkmark already. The new pinning would merely change their position in roughly 10% of the cases. The contrast doesn't vanish. \$\endgroup\$
    – Akixkisu
    Sep 10 at 15:39
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Akixkisu Your first sentence makes no sense, so I edited my answer to clear up what may have led to it. It's a visual thing - the high voted answers right under the accepted answer is a VISUAL feature I don't want to lose. \$\endgroup\$ Sep 10 at 15:44
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Akixkisu Considering your comments here and elsewhere, you seem awfully sure that those 10% of cases are unimportant. Why? On what basis? If someone told me "we're going to implement a change that makes RPG.SE approximately 10% less useful, I'd be against it. \$\endgroup\$
    – screamline
    Sep 10 at 15:55
  • \$\begingroup\$ @KorvinStarmast Unimportant? Not at all. I can refer you to the chat that Screamline and I had yesterday. I would rather not see people jump to the conclusion that I think that these cases are unimportant. I think the accepted answer continues to do its job, and our community of respectable humans works cooperatively. Our members are neither an absent-minded and untrustable hivemind, nor out to dominate the querent with the tyranny of their choice. \$\endgroup\$
    – Akixkisu
    Sep 10 at 15:57
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Akixkisu I'm hesitant to devolve us into a "but you just said..." debate, but you just said: "The new pinning would merely change their position in roughly 10% of the cases." I'm not sure how to read the word "merely" as anything other than dismissing --presumably as unimportant, unless you have some other reason to dismiss them -- the 10% of cases where positions would change. Am I missing something? To be clear, I'm simply trying to grasp your position, because we seem to be at odds. \$\endgroup\$
    – screamline
    Sep 10 at 16:03
  • \$\begingroup\$ @screamline I think the tool doesn't lose its quality of visibly marking the accepted answer with a green checkmark showcasing the contrast well enough for any onlooker to make an informed decision - a unique power that the querent can wield to express themselves during the cooperative effort of the community. The change doesn't dienfranchise the querent rendering them unable to mark the accept answer or unable to express their choice. All of that is intact. \$\endgroup\$
    – Akixkisu
    Sep 10 at 16:07
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Akixkisu I was not who brought up unimportant. I am about contrast. I think you may be mixing us up accidentally. \$\endgroup\$ Sep 10 at 16:22
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ @KorvinStarmast yup, I was mixing your response up, my bad. \$\endgroup\$
    – Akixkisu
    Sep 10 at 16:24
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Akixkisu I'll apologize if my tone unintentionally came across as sarcastic; I see now how that might've happened. My comment was genuine: I am trying to understand whether your position is one of matter of degree (i.e., it's only 10%) or matter of principle (i.e., no degree matters, because the change itself is without material impact). \$\endgroup\$
    – screamline
    Sep 10 at 16:24
  • \$\begingroup\$ @screamline I think the topic is so important that I opened a meta about it, and I continuously engage with people about it. So what is the change? The change is that the querent can no longer pin their accepted answer to the top, but all of the other things that come with accepting an answer are still intact (clear visual distinction, and so on), and in 1/10 cases with accepted answers, we experience a change. In 9/10 cases, we do not experience a change. Even in the 1/10 cases, the accepted answer does its job correctly, although the ordering changes. \$\endgroup\$
    – Akixkisu
    Sep 10 at 16:39
  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ @Akixkisu Got it. I appreciate your bearing with me. I believe, then, that KorvinStarmast has the right of it: the pivotal issue really is the visual information, the perceived value-or-not of having the accepted answer immediately visible up top. That's what we differing over. \$\endgroup\$
    – screamline
    Sep 10 at 16:46
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    \$\begingroup\$ I second this notion heavily. I think there's real value to having that 'above-the-fold' handling for those 10% of situations where the accepted answer and highest voted answer are at odds. It helps to push future readers to consider the points being made a bit more carefully and evaluate the querent's needs with their own as well as the general community's recommendation. \$\endgroup\$ Sep 15 at 20:20
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    \$\begingroup\$ I'd not considered the visual aspects of this issue, and need perhaps more time deciding if that matters. Where I struggled with a potential issue was when a late answer comes in and totally earns the check mark. That answer should be top pinned, but would be near the end unless it gained enough votes to overcome the others (which doesn't always happen). On Christianity SE I remember seeing late answers accepted often enough that it should be a concern there. Here, I can't say. \$\endgroup\$
    – 9400
    yesterday
4
\$\begingroup\$

Keep the checkmark pin. It stands for hope*.

*And maybe that's not where hope should be coming from, but it's all the hope I've got.

So there's this question. Four-five answers already in place. Top answer has the checkmark and a score of 20, 50, 100, something big. But I still think I've got something to add to it. There's an angle I'm thinking of that nobody's considered yet.

When I answer and bump the question, are people even going to make it down to my 0-score answer to give it a fair shake? Maybe, maybe not. If I can get a couple of votes to move it up the page it gets a little more likely, but questions don't receive attention evenly over time.

I mean, at least that's the model I have, maybe somebody can prove me wrong here, but the picture in my brain is that a question gets the most attention when it's new and answers get more attention the higher up they are on the page.

Putting in a late answer is kind of hoping to hit the lottery there, honestly. I'm not going to get as much attention as a popular answer got when the question was new, but if I get the checkmark pin at least I'll be getting the most I could possibly get.

I realize we've never really tested the checkmark and the pin independently of each other. I can't say there'll definitely be some appreciable falloff if the checkmark stops pinning. I will, however, definitely feel much more hopeless if a late and useful answer never gets bumped.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I'll just note that getting answers you like moved up the list is one of the main reasons bounties exist. Not that they are a perfect solution, but they are useful \$\endgroup\$
    – Medix2
    Sep 10 at 2:30
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Medix2 Eh... bounties exist to draw attention to the question. You can use them to award an existing answer, but it doesn't move that answer up the list at all, even if you apply a 500-rep bounty; the ordering is still determined purely by the post scores (and no one even knows which answer you want to award until after the bounty has been awarded and the question is no longer included in the Bounties tab). I'm not even sure if applying a bounty counts as "activity" in terms of sorting by the Active tab for answers. \$\endgroup\$
    – TylerH
    Sep 10 at 13:52
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    \$\begingroup\$ @TylerH You can just include which answer you are awarding and why in the description. The main reasons the "reward an existing answer" bounty reason can't be given immediately is because the bounty draws attention to that answer. And bounties highly increase question visibility/views, you can check timelines to confirm this. \$\endgroup\$
    – Medix2
    Sep 10 at 15:05
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    \$\begingroup\$ I think this highlights the need for something that rewards late answers, because it's true they can suffer from lack of notice and lack of ability to gain traction. Granted, you can still score the checkmark, even if your answer doesn't wind up pinned afterwards. \$\endgroup\$ Sep 10 at 15:12
  • \$\begingroup\$ I had not considered this angle, but now that you mention it I think this is a good point to raise. @doppelgreener In re "a need for something" ... because feature requests usually go so well. 🤣😂😎 \$\endgroup\$ Sep 10 at 17:06
  • \$\begingroup\$ @doppelgreener What about the necromancer badge? \$\endgroup\$ Sep 10 at 17:09
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Medix2 Yes, you can, but you don't have to. How many such bounty posters do that? (unfortunately I don't think that's something we can easily check, even via SEDE). And even then, it still doesn't change the ordering of the answers, it just says "this answer in the pile of answers below" and then you've gotta go hunt for it. \$\endgroup\$
    – TylerH
    Sep 10 at 18:46
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I support this change, on RPG SE probably more than any other site I am on.

  1. This is a change that won't affect most of the site. First questions often go without an accepted answer, and second most of the accepted answers also have the most votes. Of the 25 most recently active questions with accepted answers, none of them do not have the most votes on the accepted answer. Of the 25 highest voted questions with accepted answers, four have a higher voted answer than the accepted answer, and 1 had a tie, so 8% of the questions I looked at would be affected. If there's a clear best and comprehensive answer it should end up the one the community AND the querent prefer, and these rough numbers bear that out.

  2. RPGs are driven by the GM and players. This means that unlike harder SE sites like SO or Math, there is usually no "right" and "wrong" answer (I've always been in the "rules serve the story/GM not the other way around" camp), but a lot of "This is how I understand it to work and use it in my game" or "This is how I'd approach a situation like that." For that reason the suggestions that work for the querent in a given question may not work for anyone else looking for a similar situation, but the ones more members of the community agree with more likely will apply to more groups.

  3. The querent's needs are already met. One of the arguments given for putting the accepted answer pinned to top is the argument for putting the querent's needs first. However since the querent is the one accepting the answer they liked best, their needs are already met at that point, and pinning the answer to top doesn't significantly improve their own usage of their chosen answer in any way. It makes it slightly easier to find and refer back to in the rare case where it wasn't the clear "best" answer to the community as a whole, but it isn't hard to scroll down until you see the checkmark you know will be there in that case.

The optimal solution I think is to treat the accepted answer as a tie breaker, but what worked best for one, shouldn't be automatically assumed to be best in general. Out of scope for this, since it would be an SE wide change, but possibly adding a "jump to accepted answer" link conditionally to pages where it's not the first answer might solve some concerns people have with unpinning.

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Accepted Answers should have more weight, and that's okay.


The Counter-Counter-Arguments


I'm actually going to reiterate over the arguments that Doppelgreener's answer uses to make her case.

[Emphasis Mine]

  • [Reason to keep it pinned:] The accepted answer actually works for one person

    [Counter-argument:] But the Stack Overflow answers are not ultimately there for that one person. They are there for the countless visitors who come later. Ninety-nine percent of the time that I upvote a non-accepted answer, I am also signifying that it solved my problem or at least helped me get one step closer to solving it.

If people only upvoted answers when they helped them with a problem they were having, then yes, this would actually be a reasonable argument for unpinning them and letting votes dictate how well they solve a problem. But they don't work that way. I know there's plenty of times when I look at an answer and upvote it because I think it's reasonable and well-worded, and that the efforts of the poster should be rewarded with some reputation for it, even if it's not the best answer.

Additionally, the attitude of not being there to help the original poster (who's also the first person who actually cared enough about the question to post on RPG.SE) is a terrible one to have. While we may not be there to serve them in particular, we are also not there to ignore them in favor of the people who may come afterwards.

  • [Reason to keep it pinned:] The accepted answer is tested (*)

    [Counter-argument:] It is true that many people will upvote answers without testing them. However, if a highly voted answer contains a mistake, it will start collecting comments saying so. If that mistake is not corrected, other people start adding answers that are correct. The voting system starts moving those correct answers to the top. This seems fair to me.

This is really the only valid argument about why an answer should not be pinned. People will accept incorrect answers (in this case, it's also the highest scoring answer and wrong as well) from time to time without realizing it, and then they get stuck there. However, the opposite is also true the majority will vote for an answer that seems true (even when it isn't), simply because they see votes on it and want to contribute their own. I imagine there's some psychology to it (just as there's psychology to explain why people are more likely to add more votes to the accepted answer), but I'm not a psychologist, nor do I have any interest in looking up these reasons.

Regardless, my point stands, while having a pinned accepted answer that is wrong, is something that can happen, so too can the community vote for an answer that is wrong and cause it to be pushed to the top as well. Both of them are rare cases, and not something that we should change the current situation over.

  • [Reason to keep it pinned:] The accepted answer solves the actual problem described in the question (*)

    [Counter-argument:] Fine, but when I use Stack Overflow I don't care if my problem is exactly the same in every detail as the OP. Sometimes the OP uses a title that leads search engines and thousands of future visitors to expect a different answer than the one that solved the OP's problem (example). There is no need to keep those kind of answers on top anymore. If I want to find them I can scroll down.

This is actually an issue with Stack Exchange and how duplicate questions work. To be succinct about it though, we (as in the whole of RPG.SE) don't care about the differences in situation that someone may have from the original poster, unless it's enough to make a new question about. Therefore, the same answer that worked for the original poster should work for someone else, even if they might consider another one to be better for them. They can still upvote those other answers and bring them upwards as they wish, but they still differ from the answer that actually helped in the OP's situation.

The Other Factors


There's plenty of other things that can cause issues with voting and display of correct answers, but I'll go over just a couple of them.

Hot New Questions

Often times, when a question makes the HNQ board, it gets swarmed with attention and lots of upvotes for, well, everything. If the answers posted at the time are incorrect, this makes it difficult for a late correct answer to get visibility without the pinning ability that accepted answers currently have.

"Fun" Answers

Let's be honest, while there's not many of them out there, answers that involve memes and jokes tend to get a higher vote count, even in the case that they're not correct. Frame Challenges also seem to be swingy about vote accumulation when they may not be relevant to the question, especially when factored in with the quick-peek and upvote mentality of HNQ.

Why should accepted answers have more weight?


So why should they have more weight? There's a few different reasons.

Historic Accuracy

Simply because they're answers that have actually been proven to work. There's also the fact that historically, the difference between accepted answers and the top-voted answer only differs by ~9%. This means that we, as the RPG.SE community, tend to actually agree that the accepted answer is the best answer in the majority of cases.

Proven Usefulness

The accepted answer also indicates whether an answer was useful for answering the question. While the other answers might have worked for someone else, they might not have actually worked for the OP or another person who views it. While upvoting is a good indicator of what works, upvotes are not solely awarded based on whether the answer actually works.

Critical Thinking

Scenario: So you have a question that needs answering and google it. The first link takes you to a question where the accepted answer that's pinned to the top has a score of -2 and the second answer has a score of 800. Do you just blindly follow the directions of the accepted answer?

As KorvinStarmast's answer points out, when the accepted answer is lower in score than the top voted answer, the contrast provided by the two actually helps you think more about the situation.


Recommendations


Keep the Pin

No surprise for those who read the rest of my post above. I find it useful to have the accepted answers pinned to the top. I'd prefer to keep it that way.

Make the Pinning Behavior into a User Preference

Failing that, I'd like the ability to make them pinned for myself. I know there's a userscript for doing so. I cannot install such onto my work computer, and therefore want such a thing as a vanilla behavior for SE.

Grant the Accepted Answers More (vote) Weight

Failing both of those, make it so that an answer being accepted counts as multiplying its votes by some factor of x. This would cause them to have more importance placed on them, while not preventing them from being eventually pushed down by other answers.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Accepted answers do have more weight: they give someone 15 reputation, even if that person has already hit the daily reputation cap of 200. If the asker also upvotes the answer (which they should pretty much always do if they have 15rep or more), that means the asker can award an answer with 25 rep without needing to resort to a bounty... and post a notice to other users that an answer was most helpful to them (without fear of it being modified short of the entire answer being deleted). \$\endgroup\$
    – TylerH
    Sep 10 at 18:47
  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ So in short, accepted answers would still: 1) be a super upvote (in multiple ways) that 2) will not prevent you from also casting a normal upvote, and 3) display a nearly-unmodifiable signal to the community that an answer was most helpful to answering your question... a signal which only you, the asker, control (and can change your mind about even years later, if you want). Seems pretty weighty to me. \$\endgroup\$
    – TylerH
    Sep 10 at 18:53
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ @TylerH getting rewarded != having more weight. An upvote on them is equivalent to an upvote being placed on another answer. Currently, the only method by which they have more weight is the act of them being pinned. While the checkmark is nice, it does not add more weight to the post. \$\endgroup\$
    – willuwontu
    Sep 10 at 18:54
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    \$\begingroup\$ So your definition of "weight" is purely about the ordering of the answers on the page, and nothing else matters? OP, who usually doesn't know the best answer by virtue of the position they're in, should be able to highlight for all eternity the "best" answer, even if it's negatively scored and/or flat-out wrong, and there are multiple correct, higher-scored answers? Seems like way too much influence in the wrong hands. I say let the community decide. Over time, the best information rises to the top. That's the beauty of the SE system, minus this little (current) flaw. \$\endgroup\$
    – TylerH
    Sep 10 at 18:58
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ That is the typical definition of 'weight' when discussing the order of posts, yes, since we're not discussing physics here. "highlight for all eternity the "best" answer, even if it's negatively scored and/or flat-out wrong" Like when the community highlights a wrong answer? The only difference in that case is it's not negative because the collective mind of the community was wrong. Which one can argue is even worse, since it's actively rewarding someone for spreading misinformation. Seems like way too much influence in the wrong hands. I'd rather leave it to the critical thinking of readers. \$\endgroup\$
    – willuwontu
    Sep 10 at 19:08
  • \$\begingroup\$ Why bother thinking critically about the correctness of an answer in order to vote on it, if someone else can override your vote, no matter how many other people agree with you? Btw, I don't understand what "The only difference in that case is it's not negative because the collective mind of the community was wrong." is trying to say... it doesn't seem quite grammatical. \$\endgroup\$
    – TylerH
    Sep 10 at 19:57
  • \$\begingroup\$ @TylerH Because only the opinion of yourself matters when reviewing answers to use? Sometimes the "best" answer (regardless of whether it's the OP or the community who thinks it is) is not the best for your case and you should use another. That's why you should critically think about them. By upvoting, you're supposed to be saying that you found an answer useful and want to reward the poster, not that you want to see it go to the top. \$\endgroup\$
    – willuwontu
    Sep 10 at 20:11
  • \$\begingroup\$ Re: What I was saying. The community highlighting an incorrect answer only differs from the OP highlighting it through the answer having a positive vote count. In both cases it was incorrect, but in the case of the community pinning it, the answerer was actively rewarded despite being wrong, while in the case of the OP pinning it, they were punished. \$\endgroup\$
    – willuwontu
    Sep 10 at 20:12
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ I see, it sounds like you just misunderstand the design of SE sites. Questions and answers on the SE network are not for the person asking the question, they are for everyone. More specifically, they are for all the people coming after you. Otherwise we'd just auto close/hide every question once it has an accepted answer. Once you understand this, it should be more clear how putting an inordinate amount of 'power' (or 'weight' or whatever you want to call it) in the hands of anyone person, but especially in the hands of someone who doesn't already know the answer is a fundamental flaw. \$\endgroup\$
    – TylerH
    Sep 10 at 20:37
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    \$\begingroup\$ I'll quote my post "Additionally, the attitude of not being there to help the original poster (who's also the first person who actually cared enough about the question to post on RPG.SE) is a terrible one to have. While we may not be there to serve them in particular, we are also not there to ignore them in favor of the people who may come afterwards." While we do care about people who come by later, the primary goal of an answer, should be to answer the question by the OP. We cannot answer the question for everyone coming later, because they may have completely different situations. \$\endgroup\$
    – willuwontu
    Sep 10 at 21:24
  • \$\begingroup\$ Otherwise we'd simple remove the ability for the OP to accept an answer, because it only needs the community to vote on it. \$\endgroup\$
    – willuwontu
    Sep 10 at 21:27
  • \$\begingroup\$ As for "especially in the hands of someone who doesn't already know the answer is a fundamental flaw". This is not a flaw, the OP is actually the only one who knows the answer in the end, because they're the only one who actually executed it. So they know whether an answer worked, simply by using it. We can look at an answer and go "that seems reasonable enough" before upvoting it, but we didn't actually utilize the answer. If SE could somehow limit votes to people who've actually utilized an answer, I agree, upvotes would be a good metric for the answer. But it cannot and doesn't. \$\endgroup\$
    – willuwontu
    Sep 10 at 21:31
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Sure, you should help the OP. Help the OP by answering the question, not by helping the OP. Regarding the bold emphasis on your comments, you apparently don't realize that future visitors also apply the same exact solution in their own experineces. That's also inherent in the design of the site. Why allow people to vote on content if its only useful to OP? Most sites have some form of 'too localized' close reason for stuff that isn't possibly useful for other people, because, again, this site is about content for all future readers, not a help desk for OP. \$\endgroup\$
    – TylerH
    Sep 10 at 21:42
  • \$\begingroup\$ Most sites are not RPG.SE. We don't have a too localized close reason, the closest we have is opinion-based/subjective. \$\endgroup\$
    – willuwontu
    Sep 10 at 21:59
  • \$\begingroup\$ "Regarding the bold emphasis on your comments, you apparently don't realize that future visitors also apply the same exact solution in their own experineces." Points at critical thinking portion of post. If people don't think before using an answer, then no answer would be likely to help them, no matter how good anyone thinks it is. \$\endgroup\$
    – willuwontu
    Sep 10 at 22:00
2
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Unpinning makes sense for some questions and not others

Stack-Exchange has three types of questions on the network:

  1. Ones with an objective answer that is correct, and a different answer may become more correct over time
  2. Ones with a combination of objective and subjective components to answers
  3. Ones with almost entirely (but not completely) subjective components to answers

All three of these types are answerable on stack because all three types allow for expert opinion to avoid wrong answers. It is possible for there not to be a correct answer to a problem while simultaneously having very definite wrong answers. For example, "How would I solve world hunger in the world I am creating for my novel? (parameters are x)" would be a fine question for Worldbuilding.SE, it doesn't necessarily have one true "right" answer, it does, however have at least one very wrong answer "have [insert disaster] wipe out everyone on your world". Sure it solves the problem of world hunger, but leaves the querent without a world to build in. Expert opinion allows answers to avoid the wrong, and provide potential good solutions to the problem.

Whether or not a site should use the unpinning feature or not depends on what mix of these three types of questions there are on that site. Sites that have more of types 2 & 3 should retain pinning, sites that have more of type 1 should remove it.

What does pinning actually achieve?

Pinning an answer gives the querent an active opinion on which answer solved their problem. Unpinning changes that opinion to being more passive (readers have to scroll past the first answer to get to an unpinned accepted answer, which is the use case this change is attempting to solve).

This decision seems to be based on the assumption that the querent is the least expert person in the discussion. Making this assumption in all cases is a dangerous road to go down.

The experiment this change was based on, was run on the site which has a plethora of objectively answered questions (Stack Overflow). In that situation the querent will be the least expert person in the room.

Someone, on the other hand, asking "How should I handle situation x which is causing issues for reasons x & y" is not a situation where the querent is the least expert person in the discussion, it's a situation where they may be the most expert person on what constitutes the best answer.

The moment you bring a subjective topic into a question is the same moment the fundamental assumption that the SO experiment was investigating shifts dramatically. For example, the querent cannot possibly put down all of the history and nuance of the interpersonal relationships (because space), however they are uniquely qualified to spot what is the best answer for their situation once presented (in that situation).

Example Site Classifications

For sites where there is an objective answer to a question (Physics, Mathematics, Stack-Overflow, etc), the querents opinion doesn't matter as much on what is the best answer, as the best answer for the site is "what is the highest quality and most correct answer", which is a criteria that can change over time.

For sites where instead there is frequently going to be a subjective answer (RPG, Parenting, Politics, etc). Answers to these types of questions will (commonly) have two components, objective facts (eg game rules) and subjective opinion (how those game rules should be interpreted and applied). The querents opinion on what solved their problem should hold more weight for these questions as it is a prominent and visible signal of what solved the subjective part of their problem.

There is a third set of questions which are totally subjective, those dealing with interpersonal relations. Given the focus of our site, we allow a subset of those (eg managing unruly players in my game, or x players behaviour is unfun). For these types of questions the most correct answer is the one which solved the querents question the best, and this can only be indicated by pinning their accepted answer.

What should we do about unpinning/pinning on RPG.SE?

Based on how I've classified RPG.SE I would strongly favour retaining pinning of accepted answers here. We have a mix of all three types of questions, but our site favours, by a long way, type 2 & 3 over type 1 questions. This is primarily due to the nature of our subject matter, we deal with social games with complex rules (by and large), and as a result of the social portion it's not possible to have objectively correct answers for all of our questions.

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2
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Yay

In most cases accepted answer is also a highly-upvoted one. For those cases, unpinning changes nothing.

On the other cases, there are rules questions with quite a few answers telling "no" and one, accepted and with low-positive score telling "yes". Given that more people can upvote than downvote, and even people who can do both tend to upvote more often[citation needed] the fact that answer has positive score is very weak indication of it being right. For such cases, unpinning changes it all, and for the better.

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