I have a dilemma I've seen, both in other people's posts and in mine. Lots of people come up with lots of great, different ideas for solutions to different parts of the problem. But since no one person summarizes all of these subsets into one perfect solution, and no-one's solution "fragment" seems better than another, I feel uncomfortable up/downvoting or accepting any one person's individual solution. Solutions, please?

Hoping I won't need to use your techniques for this post :)


2 Answers 2


This seems to happen a lot on Worldbuilding SE. It certainly seems to happen a fair bit to me, particularly about acceptance.

I disagree with Secespitus in that especially on its own, multiple valid answers isn't necessarily a sign that the question is poorly formed. It might be one hint towards that, but it might just as well simply be a sign that there are many different solutions to the problem in the question, each with its own set of trade-offs, or answers bring up different points that are all worthy of consideration.

That's one situation in which I feel that accepting any single answer might not be the best choice.

Rather, just vote up the answers that you like, and hold off on accepting any one answer.

Not every question needs to have an accepted answer. Of the 44 questions I myself have asked on the site to date, only 17 have an accepted answer. However, many more of those have (often multiple) answers that I have voted up. Sometimes there's a single clearly best or most useful answer, but far more often, at least to me, it's the combination of multiple answers which ultimately provides the solution. And that's fine!


In theory those are signs of a bad questions and bad answers.

A question should have clear criteria for what makes an answer better than another answer. And answers should answer the complete answer. If it's only possible to answer part of the problem in a reasonable answer the question is too broad and should be temporarily put on hold as such to narrow down the scope sufficiently so that it can be answered.

In practice it might be the case that some people use different wordings or approaches to solve something. In those cases both answers may be valid and ideally there are some criteria that will make sure that one could theoretically decide somewhat objectively which answer is better - but both are good, both are useful and could for example solve the problem as posed in the question. If you hover over the upvote button you can see that it says (emphasis mine) "This question shows research effort; it is useful and clear" -> that means all valid, useful and clear answers would deserve an upvote. Other answers don't necessarily deserve downvotes as long as they are not unclear, don't show any effort or are simply not useful. There is quite a big gray area here.

Furthermore there are different styles of writing. My posts tend to be relatively long and many people prefer shorter answers, therefore you might sometimes find that people have similar ideas but pose them in a more succinct way in their own words. That's okay.

About accepting an answer you might want to read my answer to Is it better to accept an answer that's not quite what you were looking for or leave a question unanswered?:

The thing about accepting an answer is that it is totally, completely, absolutely only up to you to decide whether something was helpful. You can decide when and what to accept or nothing at all if nothing was quite the answer you were looking for.

Sometimes people will start a Community Wiki if they feel that there are lots of different approaches or they want to outline which parts they used and what they modified. Community Wikis are a difficult topic though. The original idea was to make it easier to edit stuff, but then they came up with the option of suggesting edits and nowadays you will rarely find community wikis. There are a few usecases, but in general it's not the best way to go.

Upvote useful stuff, downvote stuff that's not useful, accept stuff that helped you (if you truly think it was helpful and solved your complete problem), place a bounty with an explanation that you need a canonical answer that solves all problems with one coherent approach if you think there are only some small parts missing in each answer (that is still valid; if it's not valid flag it as "Not an answer").

There will always be something someone forgets. The more people look at something the better something becomes. Here on WorldBuilding there is often not the "one true answer", but many different approaches and therefore having multiple answers that go in different directions is quite normal. Plus, someone will always have a comment with stuff that the original answerer forgot. Sometimes it should be edited into the answer, sometimes it's just a little "nice-to-know" - but in the end nothing is ever truly perfect and complete. 80% is often good enough.


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