Much too often, a newer questioner will choose a "best answer" within hours (or sometimes minutes) of submitting a question. This is frustrating for many reasons and discourages people from submitting new answers.

I've also seen the best answer change rapidly. In those and other cases, sometimes the questioner will comment that s/he didn't know that s/he could only pick one answer. In other words, questioners sometimes can't tell the difference between a best answer and an upvote.

I know that the prevailing wisdom (I'm not finding a number in the FAQ) is to wait 48 hours. But most people don't know or don't care (I've also been told by questioners that they choose a best answer to get the rep points, even though waiting would not change that).

I will note that the system makes you wait 48 hours before accepting your own answer to your question.

Is there a way to build in a waiting period? Or a pop-up that asks "are you sure?" before the person can proceed? Or a note on the question itself?

One example: What is the character called that is only there so we can have information from the main characters?

In this case, the questioner chose the first (and only) answer very quickly. A couple of hours at most. But the first answer is wrong. A second answer, with correct information, came up and is languishing. Had the questioner waited, he still might have chosen the first question, and that would be his right, but I don't think he would have.

Is there a way we can make this process better?

  • 2
    Regarding "the difference between a best answer and an upvote", completely new users can't upvote. Voting up requires at least 15 rep (the association bonus counts), so for a user with a single question and no other reputation-earning activity on the site, the question must get at least three upvotes before they have the rep to upvote an answer. I'm not saying vote questions up just because the user is new (that's the wrong approach, in my opinion) but it's something to be aware of.
    – user
    Commented Nov 25, 2018 at 12:07
  • 1
    Interesting. I hadn't remembered that. Part of the fix will be to either require a similar level for choosing a best answer or to remove the requirement when upvoting on one's own question. This also explains why I've had no upvotes on questions I worked hard on from brand new people, even those who engage with me in the comments.
    – Cyn
    Commented Nov 25, 2018 at 16:15
  • I will note though that the questioner in my linked example has rep of over 700 and most of the offenders in quick choices for best answer also have rep well over 15.
    – Cyn
    Commented Nov 25, 2018 at 16:16
  • Well, then that doesn't explain what happened in this specific case.
    – user
    Commented Nov 25, 2018 at 20:44
  • 2
    I sometimes leave a comment when I see new users accepting an answer too quickly. But it is getting tiresome to leave the same comment over and over. Maybe request this feature on Meta Stack Exchange? Commented Nov 27, 2018 at 19:46
  • Okay, I posted it to the main Meta. I hope that works out... Thanks.
    – Cyn
    Commented Nov 28, 2018 at 6:21
  • @Cyn could you post the link to your Meta post? Commented Nov 29, 2018 at 0:44
  • meta.stackexchange.com/questions/319009/…
    – Cyn
    Commented Nov 29, 2018 at 0:56
  • The possibility on the main meta is to ask that each SE group be allowed to set the minimum time before a questioner can choose the best answer. If you think that's a good idea or a bad one, please comment over there. Thanks!
    – Cyn
    Commented Nov 30, 2018 at 0:05
  • A comment on the linked example. The first (and accepted) answer there was given by me. Even after Amadeus' answer, I still think mine is the correct one. The question asks: "the bad guy always has this guy with them they talk to". That is a sidekick. A foil usually isn't a constant companion to the protagonist or antagonist, but someone or something they encounter or are in some kind of opposition to. Also, a foild doesn't have to be another character, "a subplot can be used as a foil to the main plot" (Wikipedia). So what is asked here is, in my honest opinion, not a foil but a sidekick.
    – user34178
    Commented Dec 13, 2018 at 6:50

1 Answer 1


We see the same problem not only with accepting the right answer but also with voting. The Stack Exchange system encourages quick replies, because those consistently get the most votes and have a better chance of being chosen as the right answer.

The current system leads to low quality answers, because hurrying your answer for it to be seen by the first never-to-return visitors to the question cannot make it as good an answer as if you took a week to think about it and half an hour to phrase it well.

The only way to change this would be:

  1. Disable voting and accepting a right answer until all answers have been given. Allow answers only for a limited period of time, then close the question to new answers and open it for voting and accepting.

    Less fair, but still fairer than the current way, would be to allow answers forever, but to disallow voting and accepting before a certain time span.

  2. Present answers in a different random order to every visitor to the question to avoid the effect that people begin to vote at the top and often don't read the answers lower on the page.

See this answer for more on this problem.

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