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I am having problems on deciding which answers to accept on Questions like Rules of player inventions or, perhaps a better example, creating emotions. I mean, strictly speaking, there is no "right" answer, just a lot of house rules and different techniques to go about it.

I finally decided to accept an answer that was, in my opinion, very well thought-out, but that does not mean that the other answers are inferior or, god forbid, wrong.

I mean, this is not supposed to be my personal Q&A-site, but a site where everyone can find good answers on questions that have already been posted. And some people only read the accepted answer.

Do we always need to have 'accepted' answers? suggested to use the CW function for this kind of question, but it is one year old, and in that time, the general policy on CWs has changed, and before I start marking almost all of my posts CW, I thought I would ask here (especially because I as a non-moderator can't even mark them as CW).

Another things to consider is that I almost always add an example, and many of the answers then focus on the example instead of the general question, which would make it unfit for a CW.

So, should I accept no answer at all? Or the answer that is the best, in my opinion, but might not be the best for a random person strolling onto the site? Or the one with the most upvotes after X days? Or just (let mods) CW the whole question?

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Ideally, you mark the answer that you used to solve your problem as the accepted answer.

So, suppose you get three answers:

  • An answer that's correct, but just doesn't work for you.

  • An answer that's less general, but which you ultimately use to solve your problem.

  • An answer that looks good, but you never got around to trying (because the problem's already solved).

You would give the check mark to the second answer.

Don't worry about the "purity" of the accepted answer. That checkmark is strictly a way for you to communicate with future readers; to say "I went this way." The community will reward the others with upvotes.

It's much better to give an accept to a pet answer that works, than not to accept anything at all.

Another things to consider is that I almost always add an example, and many of the answers then focus on the example instead of the general question, which would make it unfit for a CW.

Some basic rules of communication apply here. Don't lead with the example; begin and end with your actual question. Prefix examples with "for example." Use formatting (particularly bolding) to highlight key points. Summarize.

In addition, there's a few other Q&A specific things you can do:

  • Include multiple examples. If nothing else, an answer that solves both examples is more likely to apply generally.

  • Comment frequently and swiftly to nudge future answers in the right direction. "Well, this solves the example, but how would you solve it in the more general case?"

  • Look at where people are going wrong, and edit your question to make it clearer.

Finally, don't write questions with an eye towards CW. CW is, at most, something that's extremely rare. It's not a guideline that you should be aspiring to with all of your questions.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I like your answer, but you imply that I should accept what works for me, while the FAQ states "We want the questions on our site to be valuable sources of information for the whole Internet, (...) so we try to keep subjective opinions out of our questions and answers when we can.". In my opinion, that does not really fit together, although I could be wrong. \$\endgroup\$ – malexmave Mar 13 '12 at 21:45
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    \$\begingroup\$ @malexmave Subjectivity is where things get tricky, mostly because the language is ambiguous. That can probably be improved. The short version is that "many answers are valid" is okay, but "all answers are equally good" is bad. "What's your favorite color?" is bad, because (virtually) any answer is valid. But "how do I deal with player inventions?" is fine, because expertise can be applied to the problem. While there are several ways to tackle that problem, there are also ways to verify that they work (i.e. playtest them). \$\endgroup\$ – AceCalhoon Mar 13 '12 at 22:02
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    \$\begingroup\$ Extended reading: blog.stackoverflow.com/2010/09/good-subjective-bad-subjective \$\endgroup\$ – AceCalhoon Mar 13 '12 at 22:02
  • \$\begingroup\$ Thanks, that cleared things up for me. \$\endgroup\$ – malexmave Mar 13 '12 at 22:05
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    \$\begingroup\$ Great answer. The only thing I'd add is that the questioner has complete authority to pick what is the best answer for him/her. The rest of us will vote. At worst, the "best" answer will be shown second. The number of votes will probably make it obvious as to which the public prefers if there is a mismatch. \$\endgroup\$ – Pat Ludwig Mar 14 '12 at 5:09

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