Let's say you post a question, and someone answers it. The answer seems reasonable, so you accept it. Then, later, someone else comes along and provides a much more thorough and detailed response, or potentially one that is more accurate.

Should you un-accept the answer you originally accepted, and then accept the newer one? Does the advice change if you find out the original answer was actually wrong, vs. just less comprehensive?

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As Mariano and Willie already explained you may change the accepted answer as you like and it certainly isn't rude. Bear in mind however that for the person whose answer is unaccepted it is more or less impossible to tell which answer was unaccepted. They can just notice that it happened. While this may not be especially important because the points don't matter much, I for one would like to know what I missed in my answer since I mostly deal with topics I care about and thus invest some effort. You might therefore consider leaving a short comment for the answerer that you changed your mind. –  t.b. Aug 17 '11 at 3:24
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It sometimes takes me a while to accept an answer, especially when more than one was helpful. I think its amazing how much trouble some people take in replying. Personally, I really don't like 'un-accepting' an answer, just as I don't like down-voting (which I only really use as a response to rudeness, which is very rare). So, I tend to wait a bit (as already suggested by Willie). When there's little to choose between two answers, I tend to accept that of the person with a lower reputation. Likewise, I always try to up-vote anything that was at all helpful, including comments. –  Rhubbarb Sep 21 '11 at 21:37
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New readers should note that it is no longer (as t.b. wrote a year ago) impossible to find out which answer was unaccepted -- the software has been updated to show this information. –  Henning Makholm Sep 6 '12 at 12:11

2 Answers 2

up vote 42 down vote accepted

No, it is not rude. As always, the "accepted answer" is a subjective judgment by the original question asker about which answer helped him the most. Changing the accepted answer from one to another just because you changed your mind (without having, say, a new answer posted) is also perfectly within your rights as the question asker. (And honestly, anyone who would derive offence from something intangible and with no real value like reputation at Math.SE probably needs some time away from the internet.)

But if you do find that you are needing to do this very often (I hope not), you should consider waiting a bit longer before you accept an answer so you can think it through.

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That last sentence is something I wholeheartedly agree with! –  Asaf Karagila Aug 16 '11 at 22:49
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"anyone who would derive offence from something intangible and with no real value like reputation at Math.SE probably needs some time away from the internet." - automatic +1 from me. –  J. M. Aug 17 '11 at 2:11
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@J.M. Actually, I completely disagree with that particular sentence. It's not about reputation points, it's about people showing their gratitude for the work one has put into the answer. While I agree that it is perfectly within the OP's rights and even should be done if he received an answer that he likes better, one shouldn't pretend that noone ought to care. Unaccepting an answer is effectively saying "actually, thank you but it wasn't as good as I thought". I agree with Mariano that doing it in a friendly and grateful way is a good idea. –  Alex B. Aug 17 '11 at 5:53
    
@Alex: I'm certainly not precluding leaving a comment about the unacceptance. (and it is a genteel thing to do!) –  J. M. Aug 17 '11 at 5:56

Of course not. But you can soften the blow by adding a comment explaining why you did it.

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perhaps the answer to this question should be changed to this one –  becko Aug 18 '11 at 1:56
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or, perhaps, harden the blow. To taste.. :) –  Jeff Atwood Aug 18 '11 at 2:50
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Hilarious comment, becko! (I suppose you mean JandR's choice of the accepted answer) –  Georges Elencwajg Aug 18 '11 at 21:54

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