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Let's say I posted a ridiculously easy ridde:

I am hot.
I am bright.
I disappear in the night.

Now, OctopusLover1337 postes and answer:

You are the sun.

1 minute later, MrFabulous1234 also postes an answer:

You are the sun!

"I am hot" -
The sun is hot

"I am bright" -
The sun is bright

"I disappear in the night" -
The sun disappears when it's night

(Please just imagine spoiler hiding, I couldn't figure out how to do nested block quotes)


OctopusLover1337 was first, but MrFabulous1234 posted a way more detailed answer, which explains every single line. What should I do in scenario A, when OctopusLover1337 doesn't edit his answer anymore? And what should I do in scenario B, when OctopusLover1337 does edit his answer 5 minutes later, also explaining each line?

In scenario A I think the answer is obvious, I would accept MrFabulous1234's answer, because it's the better answer. But in scenario B OctopusLover1337 edits his answer so it becomes a good one, and he also was first. But MrFabulous1234 posted a detailed answer right away, but it was after OctopusLover1337's initial answer.


Is "first answer" a valid reason to accept it if both answers are the same quality after an edit?

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    $\begingroup$ FWIW (although as Kingrames said, it's a matter of personal preference), in scenario B I would accept OctopusLover1337's answer, since OL almost certainly knew the explanation at the time of posting. $\endgroup$ – Rand al'Thor Aug 26 '15 at 17:02
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Each puzzle-creator is entitled to choose the answer they see fit.

Over time, there will in general be a most common style or school-of-thought, but we try to avoid setting hard and fast rules for things like this because most of us can go either way based on the actual puzzle and answer combination.

In your example, the shorter response is just fine, and the longer response seems to be just arbitrarily longer and more wordy. It reeks of someone restating something you just said in order to make it more appealing. Like Mansplaining.

So obviously there are going to be differing opinions. I, personally, would avoid any appearance of bias toward either one. Sometimes a more explained answer is better, and you'll know it when you see it.

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  • $\begingroup$ Thanks for responding. Do you think I should delete the question because it seems like it's primarily opinion-based? $\endgroup$ – user14478 Aug 26 '15 at 15:15
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    $\begingroup$ Absolutely not. These questions on the meta boards help everyone. $\endgroup$ – Kingrames Aug 26 '15 at 15:16
  • $\begingroup$ @LuxxMiner This question can now be the go-to place where we can send newbies who're wondering which answer to accept! $\endgroup$ – Rand al'Thor Aug 26 '15 at 16:59
  • $\begingroup$ @LuxxMiner Opinion-based questions are very useful in meta. $\endgroup$ – Joe Z. Sep 7 '15 at 19:43
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No rules, it's up to the puzzle author. However, more importantly

Does it really matter?

If you're coming to this site to fight to be reputation high-score leader, then you've probably totally missed the point.

It is not the leader of the reputation-points league table who automatically becomes the most-respected/accepted member of this community, and as far as I know, you can not trade reputation points into anything at ebay yet.

The main purpose of the acceptation mark is that people reading the puzzle (potentially much later) can easily identify the 'best' answer in the spirit of the puzzle. This means that puzzle authors may even change the acceptation mark if a 'better' answer comes along later...

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    $\begingroup$ +1 from me for "If you're coming to this site to fight to be reputation high-score leader, then you've probably totally missed the point. It is not the leader of the reputation-points league table who automatically becomes the most-respected/accepted member of this community" ;-) :-D $\endgroup$ – Rand al'Thor Aug 28 '15 at 10:35
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    $\begingroup$ @randal'thor fg I was just waiting for your response. :c) $\endgroup$ – BmyGuest Aug 28 '15 at 12:27
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There's often a rush to be the first to answer, precisely because the trend seems to be that the first correct answer usually gets the checkmark.

What I've seen quite a few times, is that Person A will discover the answer, and post a substandard-but-correct answer as quickly as possible, so that they get the "first" timestamp (much like your example above). Then they go back and edit the answer to fill in the missing details and bring the answer up to an acceptable level of quality. To anyone who doesn't examine the edit history, it looks like this person was the first to answer, and they provided a quality answer.

Meanwhile, Person B believes that a complete and detailed answer is better than a quick one-liner, and takes a few more minutes to complete their answer, ringing in a couple of minutes after Person A, but before Person A has edited in the details of their answer. In this situation, I would credit Person B, since realistically both people found the answer at around the same time, and Person B was the first to provide an acceptable (explained) answer.

The coveted green checkmark is quite the prize, it seems, and when we always use the clock as the metric, it encourages shoddy answers in the name of being first. If we were to amend our metric so that we accept the first complete (quality, explained, etc.) answer, it would encourage much better answers, IMHO.

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    $\begingroup$ Darn it! Kingrames beat me by 6 hours! He's gonna get the checkmark! :P $\endgroup$ – GentlePurpleRain Aug 26 '15 at 21:48
  • $\begingroup$ Thanks for the answer, it's very interesting to see different people's opinions on this topic! Even though I know your comment wasn't serious, it reminded me of another "problem": I'm not sure if I will accept an answer on this post, because it's very opinion-based. Also you don't get any rep on meta, but I feel like giving the green tick is part of the etiquette on every SE site. Would you accept an answer in this situation? If I'd accept one, I would accept the one that matches with my own opinion (but that seems not quite right) $\endgroup$ – user14478 Aug 26 '15 at 22:05
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    $\begingroup$ @LuxxMiner I would definitely wait a while to see if anyone else answers, and then I would accept an answer. You can use whatever criteria you deem most appropriate. What I would consider is which post provides the most insight, or brings up things that I hadn't considered before, or demonstrates significant research or thought put into the question. Especially on Meta, I don't think the checkmark necessarily indicates the "best" answer; just the one the OP found the most useful. $\endgroup$ – GentlePurpleRain Aug 26 '15 at 22:11

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