In the past, I've made noise about what the accepted answer is and whose choice it is, because I feel it's important people accept the answer they wanna accept.
I think that linked ideology makes sense for Q&A, which we aren't.
What does it mean when an answer is "accepted"?
When a user receives a good answer to his or her question, that user has the option to "accept" an answer. Acceptance is indicated by a colored checkmark next to the answer that has been accepted by the original author of the question.
Accepting an answer is not meant to be a definitive and final statement indicating that the question has now been answered perfectly. It simply means that the author received an answer that worked for him or her personally, but not every user comes back to accept an answer, and of those who do, they may not change the accepted answer if a newer, better answer comes along later.
Often, accepting an answer corresponds to reputation gains.
If you accept:
- someone else's answer: You gain +2 reputation and the author of the accepted answer earns +15 reputation.
- your own answer: No reputation is awarded, and the answer does not float to the top of the list. You must wait 48 hours to accept your own answer.
- a community-wiki answer: No reputation is awarded.
emphasis mine, obviously.
...Well, no, actually, or at least that's not the community's consensus, or at the very least a ripply reflection of reality.
In practice, in the general case, the accepted answer on a given challenge / question / post / thingy is almost always (thankfully) the one which "wins" the challenge as written.
In theory, however, it's entirely up to the asker to reward the +15 however and wherever they like, without practising any discretion. The asker may accept
- a wrong answer,
- the longest answer (code-golf) / the slowest answer (fastest-code) / an answer with negative score (popularity-contest),
- an answer which doesn't work,
- a Not An Answer answer (spam, not-an-attempt-to-answer-the-question, etc)
- an answer written by an account of their own, (thankfully we don't get much sockpuppetry around these parts)
- literally any answer they want (kinda the idea of SE)
In lieu of holding some poor SE dev at codepoint to rewrite the help/accepted page right now, and to put my mind at ease:
Whose choice is accepting an answer, and what does it represent?
Moreover, what happens if the asker deliberately1 accepts a non-winning answer? It's not like anyone else can choose, and it's not like we can reprimand the asker for accepting the "wrong" answer.