On my question Implement hyperexponentiation/tetration without the use of '^' asked a few months ago I accepted an answer with 18 characters, which, at the time of selection, was the shortest submission.

Now, there is a solution in J that was 19 characters at the time, but is now 12.

I normally wait 1-2 weeks before accepting an answer, but what if a submission is given after that period? Should I check on my questions regularly and update them, or do I just leave the accepted answer? What is the protocol here?


1 Answer 1


I don't think it should be necessary to check your questions - a new answer will give you a notification anyway, and the front page doesn't turn over fast enough for an edit to be easily missed. But I do think the accepted answer should generally be updated when a new winner is posted.

Firstly, most questions don't state a time limit for answers, and unlike bounties there is no technologically enforced time limit. Someone who stumbles upon this site and can beat the existing answers shouldn't feel that they're competing on uneven terms.

Secondly, the accepted answer gets prominence in the page, and where there are a lot of answers that can be significant in getting upvotes. As a rule of thumb, the best answer usually deserves at least as many upvotes as any other.

In terms of actual practice, J.B. talks about changing the accepted answer to one of his questions, and I think I've seen comments on other answers suggesting that the question-asker update to the winner, although I can't find any right now.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Fair enough! I'll keep them updated. \$\endgroup\$
    – MrZander
    Aug 17, 2012 at 21:07
  • \$\begingroup\$ I just changed the selected answer myself on this question. \$\endgroup\$
    – Gaffi
    Aug 23, 2012 at 19:09
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ +1. Please, keep the accepted answer up to date; pressure the moderators into doing so for questions whose asker has deserted; don't time-limit anything. \$\endgroup\$
    – J B
    Sep 4, 2012 at 23:34
  • 4
    \$\begingroup\$ (but also, never accept anything in a language designed after the question was asked) \$\endgroup\$
    – J B
    Sep 4, 2012 at 23:35

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