As referenced by this question:

Would butter on burns help or harm?

The question was asked, and a terse, bare bones answer was quickly upvoted and accepted, while a longer and (IMHO) better quality answer now languishes somewhat unnoticed.

I think that by accepting an answer so quickly (and yes, I realize it's a private beta), it discourages people from putting in good efforts on other answers. Part of the beta assessment is number of answers per question, so are we limiting our effectiveness by accepting answers so quickly?

  • With all respects to Shlublu (thanks for being here, we need professionals like you!), his/her answer does not contain any additional information regarding the effect of butter on a burn, which was the subject of the question, except the point on the risk of infection. I think we have a different appreciation of conciseness. But yes, I tend to take a while to accept answers. Apr 3 '15 at 18:04
  • @FranckDernoncourt Thanks for this. That's a good question: should answers be concise? (does this need to be to a specific meta question?) When one asks if he/she should do something, it's better to tell, if possible, what to do instead should the answer be "no, don't do that, it hurts". It was the case here. This doesn't prevent your answer from being perfectly valid nor from having been recognized as such.
    – Shlublu
    Apr 3 '15 at 22:02
  • @Shlublu I would tend to think it is best to say what to do instead, as you did. Apr 4 '15 at 0:08
  • @FranckDernoncourt I can see why people would think that, but that was not the answer I was looking for. See my answer below for a rationale.
    – Tim
    Apr 5 '15 at 22:09
  • This problem plagues all of Stack Exchange and has been referred to as the Fastest Gun in the West Problem. See here, here and here.
    – Garrett
    Apr 5 '15 at 22:21
  • I see the FGITW as a feature. Get an answer quickly. If an answer is right and answers it, accept it and mark as solved. If others don't want to answer, more fool them.
    – Tim
    Apr 6 '15 at 9:13

I think that yes, we are being a bit too quick to accept. Accepting answers in important, as it lets people know what the best answer is (usually), but if an answer is accepted when there are no other answers to compete with it, we can't truly know if that is that case. Of course, an answer can be accepted if it is the only answer after a few hours/days, but if an answer is accepted right after it is posted, then that will deter people from answering too. People want to gain rep, and if they see an answer is already accepted, then they probably won't even try to answer, even if their information is valuable. Not enough answers per question is a problem that I think this community might have, and quickly accepting answers might make it even worse.


I'm not sure an accepted answer prevents anyone else from answering too, that's hard to figure out. If a new answer is better than the accepted one, the OP is still free to unaccept the first and accept the second, but do users know, does it happen often, etc...

In the principle, I think accepting an answer as soon as it actually answers the question is fine.

(Note: edited, as reading other answers and comments led me to reconsider my opinion)

  • 3
    I just used that as an example, there are a few others where the first answer was accepted very quickly, and an upvoted/accepted answer can be somewhat of a deterrent.
    – JohnP Mod
    Apr 3 '15 at 15:24
  • @JohnP Yes, I understand it was (so my parenthesis, not to focus on this specific case). I'm really trying to figure out is whether an accepted/upvoted answer really prevent others from answering. It wouldn't prevent some from doing (I'm one of those), but reading michaelpri and you, it seems it would make some others to refrain...
    – Shlublu
    Apr 3 '15 at 15:30

This is what I commented when someone said this should be the accepted answer. My opinion hasn't changed.

Should be the accepted answer. – Nate Barbettini 2 days ago

@NateBarbettini I didn't accept because this answer focused on what to do to a heat burn not why butter is bad. I upvoted because a lot of time and effort was clearly put in (and all the information seemed correct) but it was posted at 08:54:51, which quite a lot after I had accepted the previous answer at 08:05:28. I do know I can un accept and accept a new answer but a) I don't like doing that because it's like giving someone a prize and then taking it away later and b) As I said, this is a good answer for what to do if you have a heat burn, but not would butter help on burns?. – Tim

I stand by what I said. An accepted answer means my problem has been solved, so when an answer solves my question, I accept it. I am unlikely to un accept and accept another, however I do often upvotes a later answer. As @Shlublu says, there is nothing wrong with accepting an answer as soon as it answers the question.

Yes, it was a quick accept (10 minutes) but what are accepts for? If people want to not answer the question because I've accepted it, more fool them. If they're just here for the accept rep bonus, they're here for the wrong reasons.

I'd also like to add that I wouldn't have accepted this answer in the first place. As I have said, multiple times, this is a very good (I'd go so far as to say exceptionally good) answer for "What to do if you have a heat burn", but not "Would butter help on burns?". I am honoured that someone would take the time to write an answer like that, but I do want my question answered (which he did) but it had no more information than the previous one that had been written (and accepted).

Now maybe I am accepting too fast. I can see why people think that - I am supporting the FGITW problem, but I think that is reasonable. The quickest answer does get the reward if it is good enough. I would never accept a one word answer as quickly as I accepted that but, it answered my question, and I wanted to reward them. I have upvoted the later answer, and I can see it has got more votes than the other, but I'm not going to change my decision (or my future habits) based on this Meta Discussion.


  • Come on, it's meta, explain the down votes please.
    – Tim
    Apr 6 '15 at 9:12

During the private beta, we are working to develop the site. Personally I almost never accept an answer until a week after the public beta. This encourages site activity in the important first week of launch.

After private beta, there still is no reason to rush to mark as accepted. While it is possible (and fairly easy) to move acceptance from one answer to another, it is not a race. The first answer may or may not be the best, give everyone a couple days to post answers before choosing the one that works best for you.

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