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It seems that Stack Overflow is getting a change and is no longer going to pin the accepted answer at the top and will now default to sorting by post score alone. In the post announcing this they posted a question asking how this should apply to other sites. Below are the choices being given and I was wondering how others thought we should tackle this.

Unpinning the accepted answer from the top of the list of answers

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

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

Here are some stats about what questions would be impacted on our site. This comes from a query I got from another meta site question.

We have 9 questions with an accepted answer having a negative score and another answer with a higher score. [Ref: Query]

We have 186 questions with an answer that has a score at least 3 higher than the accepted answer. [Ref: Query]

We have 239 questions with an answer that has a higher score than the accepted answer. [Ref: Query]

We currently have 5133 questions with accepted answers [Ref: Query], and 8503 questions with answers. [Ref: Query]

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    The 186 questions with an answer 3+ than the accepted are contained within the 239 questions? Leaving us with about 250 affected posts?
    – fredsbend Mod
    Sep 11 at 16:04
  • @fredsbend Yes, those are contained within that bracket. I included those breakdowns as well as I felt it was useful to get a grasp of now many questions where the vote gap wasn't a single vote or two. So as of right now only 239 questions would have the accepted answer not be the top and of that 186 the gap would be at least 3 votes and 9 of the accepted answer would be negative. This is not counting any answers that may shift from time to time as they have the same score as the accepted answer.
    – Joe W
    Sep 11 at 19:08
  • I've asked for related data from SE, if it exists. meta.stackexchange.com/q/369888/803868
    – fredsbend Mod
    yesterday
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Initially, I did not write an answer for this question, because I just don't know!

I can't predict whether this behaviour will help or not. I appreciate that it helped against some metrics on Stack Overflow, but we are very different to Stack Overflow.

I did a spot check of the questions in the second query [and I want to give a deep bow to the OP for providing these!]

As you might expect, a few the OP accepted an answer that matched their priors, despite a better argued answer being available. [The change would help in these cases.]

For most of them, the accepted answer was, in IMO, acceptable. But the higher voted answer was better. [The change wouldn't help in these cases.]

This question was interesting to me: Did Valerie Jarrett say she wanted "America to be a more Islamic country"?, I thought the accepted answer was better than the highest voted one. The highest voted was more fun - it has a sense of Gotcha!, but it isn't as strong. (e.g. How do we know the font is Calibri and not an older, similar looking font?)

I also worry that an old question with upvoted answers might get a NEW answer - perhaps with new evidence - which the OP recognises as better. Before this rule change, accepting it would give it the prominence it needs to slowly gather votes. Now, it will likely remain buried. [The change wouldn't help in these cases.]

But weighing this up, is this new change an overall positive or negative?

I just don't know.

So, I didn't write an answer...

... and then I realised this is probably the most common position, and having a "shrug" answer might give people a chance to register that they too don't know.

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  • My thought is for the most part this would be a good change even if there are a few cases where it might not be the best.
    – Joe W
    yesterday
  • The point about old better answers I think is a major one. Almost enough for me to favor an opposition position.
    – fredsbend Mod
    yesterday
  • I also worry that this discussion is fixated on a false premise. That is to say, the belief that a large majority of readers only read the top answer.
    – fredsbend Mod
    yesterday
  • As an aside, I'm not impressed with any of the answers in the linked post. In fact, I felt I had to delete one for being unsourced!
    – fredsbend Mod
    yesterday
  • 1
    Regarding answers actually read, I've asked SE for help. meta.stackexchange.com/q/369888/803868
    – fredsbend Mod
    yesterday
  • @fredsbend I think on some sites it is the case of only reading the first answer though I can't say if that is true here.
    – Joe W
    yesterday

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