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I have recently asked a question a got a fantastic response, with lots of answers that I found interesting and useful.

I was struggling to choose one answer to accept, so I went and read these articles:

How should I select which answer to accept?

How to deal with many good acceptable answers?

This brought me to wondering whether I should accept any of the answers I have been given. I will certainly be using bits from several answers (and the comments), so picking one over the others seems unfair.

There are whole mechanics built into the site for accepting an answer (highlighting, reputation increases, etc), and I would like to engage these mechanics if possible without accepting anything. But I am not sure if this is possible with the current Stack Exchange format.

So my real question is:

I get that the "question and accepted answer" format is the basis of Stack Exchange, but does it really fit into something as subjective as World Building?

Don't get me wrong, I love the community here, I frequently use Stack Overflow, and I am a big believer in the adage "if it ain't broke, don't fix it!"

But I am just wondering if this Q&A format works as well here as it does elsewhere (like on Stack Overflow), and if it doesn't, is there anything we can do to improve this system for us? I must emphasize that I am not thinking of major over hauls to the site or anything like that, only small changes and minor tweaks.

And if others agree with me then I wonder what tweaks we could implement to the format to accommodate us better. Don't worry, if nobody thinks there is a problem here I'll hide away and keep quiet, but if we can improve our site to serve us better, shouldn't we?

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    $\begingroup$ I don't think this problem is unique to Worldbuilding.SE. When asking a question on Math.SE like "prove this theorem", there can be multiple different, but equally good, answers. I wonder if the whole "accepted answer" idea is based on a mistaken premise. $\endgroup$ – abcde Oct 21 '15 at 4:18
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    $\begingroup$ the accepted answer works well on some sites (Stack Overflow for instance) but not so well on others... I think it would be nice to accept multiple answers for instance, perhaps in a similar way to how we vote on moderators? $\endgroup$ – Jimmery Oct 21 '15 at 9:18
  • $\begingroup$ There can be multiple different, but equally good, answers on SO as well. The votes say which answer is "most useful" (or in some cases, most popular), but the "Accepted" answer is the one that was actually used to solve the problem for the person asking the question.. so I would try to accept whichever one best covers what you actually ended up doing. $\endgroup$ – DoubleDouble Oct 21 '15 at 21:06
  • $\begingroup$ Well, I think I would damper a bit on your views. It is similar on other sites, but on worldbuilding, the effect is dramatic. If a question ends up on the HNQ, it will attract a lot of people who don't often hang around worldbuilding. And we've observed more than once the irrational of those votes. Some highly voted questions and answers are actually off-topic, badly phrased, etc. So popular differs from good. But I agree with @DoubleDouble, you should accept the answer that works best for you. It is actually said so in the help. And this is also true on SO or others... $\endgroup$ – clem steredenn Oct 22 '15 at 5:33
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While worldbuilding may be subjective, Worldbuilding SE should not be. A good question is not one that asks for subjective answers; such a question should be closed as opinion-based. Likewise, answers should not just entertain fantasies, but instead apply the laws of this universe or in the OP's supplied universe and extrapolate them in order to solve the problem that was presented in the best, most logical and consistent manner possible. With this in mind, there should in most cases be a 'best' answer.

Now, there are some cases where this doesn't exactly work. Sometimes there are a lot of possible answers, and each answerer only covers a subset of them. Sometimes everyone just covers one possible scenario, and runs with it until the answer section looks like a bunch of short stories. In cases like these, I don't really think that the 'accepted answer' format really works, but I would also suggest that these questions may be inherently flawed. Unfortunately, these questions seem to be the most popular, but I think we'd be better off in the long run if we attempted to avoid them.

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  • $\begingroup$ I am sorry but I dont understand your approach here. If these questions are the most popular then there is a demand for them from this community. Would it not be better to accommodate the subjective nature of a subjective topic which is popular with its audience? Please excuse me if I am misunderstanding you here, but it seems like you are saying "world building IS subjective, but anyone asking subjective questions does not belong here" - is there no way we can cover all aspects of world building, objective and subjective? $\endgroup$ – Jimmery Oct 21 '15 at 9:27
  • $\begingroup$ @Jimmery Just because something is in demand doesn't mean we should be selling it. All I'm saying is that Stack Exchange is more a site for answering specific questions after the asker has already done most of the work. If the asker has done no work, tried nothing, and is just looking for opinions, they might be better off going somewhere else. I admit there are a lot of grey areas though. $\endgroup$ – DaaaahWhoosh Oct 21 '15 at 13:16
  • $\begingroup$ I get the concept of Stack Exchange, when asking a question you are reminded that "We prefer questions that can be answered, not just discussed." - perhaps this should be amended to say "We prefer questions that can only have one correct answer," - my original question was just suggesting we tweak the SE concept to better fit the subjective nature of World Building - I am not even sure if this tweaking is possible, but we aren't even discussing that - if the response to my suggestion is "make your questions on this subjective topic objective or go away" then so be it... $\endgroup$ – Jimmery Oct 21 '15 at 13:39

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