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I thought it might be interesting to look at whether or not regular contributors on this site consider their 'best' answer to be their favourite, or whether or not they have one that didn't rate so well in terms of rep that they consider one of their best, against the popular grain.

I'll tag this as discussion, but I'd be interested to know what differences there are between what we liked answering and what gained us the most rep. I'm asking about this because my all time favourite answer (the one I had the most fun writing) is still pretty much in my middling answer set. I'll post it below as an answer to this to get a format going.

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    $\begingroup$ Or in other words: post here to beg for upvotes ;-) $\endgroup$ – Rand al'Thor Mar 12 at 20:51

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My most popular answer is Is it worth sending a manned mission to a black hole? - the only answer I've written on Worldbuilding to receive over 100 upvotes, a mark it finally passed this January. I think it's decent, although if I had to write it again, I might actually reverse my position and argue that it's not worth sending a manned mission to a nearby black hole. I'd want to do a little more reading about radiation exposure, honestly.

I think I have two candidates for my personal favorite answer. The first is How to estimate a star's heliopause?, where I calculated heliopauses around various different stars. I was proud of how this came out, and I was also thrilled to be able to write it at all; I was spending the summer doing research on the winds of massive stars, and I used some equations I'd been doing computations with. I even cited two papers my advisor had written and which I had been reading and analyzing/critiquing.

The other candidate was my second answer to Can stars that are not powered by nuclear fusion exist?. I like this one for a few reasons:

  • It gave a satisfying answer to a question of mine I had long considered to be an open problem.
  • It involved a lot of reading, calculations, and coding.
  • I think it just might be right.

That said, I haven't had anyone double-check my results - or if they have, they haven't told me! Independent verification by people smarter than me would be awesome. I also think that this might be my single most unreadable/incomprehensible answer, so even though it might be my favorite, it's possibly my most poorly written. It needs to be clearer and more accessible.

Both of these answers have scores that are much lower than my most popular answer (+11 and +9, respectively, compared to +101).

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  • $\begingroup$ I've always excelled in math an physics, I can't guarantee I'll quite grasp it, as I've not done a lot of research into stars or "cosmic winds" (I'm not sure exactly what to call it), but it might be a fun challenge to attempt to verify your calculations. I would just need a few good sources to read and your work as best as can be displayed. I'll do any further research I need to. You did say you want smarter people to verify, not sure I fit that category but I would love to do this just for fun if you're willing to oblige. Please and Thanks :) $\endgroup$ – Elias Rowan Albatross Mar 6 at 7:49
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My highest score answer is currently Hypothetical energy source with higher output than Dyson Sphere, with a score of 31. I feel that this was actually one of my least creative answers. The OP asked for an energy source that could deliver a lot more energy than a Dyson Sphere. I had watched a Kurzgesagt video about getting energy from black holes, so I decided to write an answer about it. I basically summarized the video, applied it to the context of the question, and included a few screenshots from the video. Despite the simplicity of the video (at least I thought it was fairly simple), a lot of people who commented on it seemed to think I was experienced in the field of black hole energy gathering. Examples:

Laser's won't work. "An additional condition which must be met is that the field must have a rest mass different from zero." Photons have zero rest mass.

No. Not really. Even from a scattered light source, if you go far enough away it is still a single direction light source. My field isn't QFT so I could be wrong, but light in general is just mass less. Mass comes from interaction with the Higgs field (?) and each photon is just an excitation of the EM field. Since you can represent the EM field with many different coordinate systems, a "photon" in one system could be multiple in another.

To these I replied with quotes from Wikipedia. To anyone who thought that I was even basically knowledgeable in this field, I am sorry.

My second highest scored answer is What would shake a galaxy and what would shake the universe? with a score of 26. In this question I described the extremely small effect of gravitational waves on the universe. Still, people seemed to think I was some kind of physics genius. Memorable quotes include

You're probably thinking about black holes formed by supernovae. So-called primordial black holes were formed by the Big Bang itself, and are therefore not subject to stellar limits.

I even got one from HDE!

Nice answer. As a side note, binary supermassive black holes (with chirp masses ∼106−8M⊙) should certainly produce more powerful gravitational waves than stellar-mass black holes - although the waves produced will be at lower frequencies than those from the mergers we've observed so far, in the nanohertz regime.

I still do not understand what any of this means.

My favorite answer is actually one of my lowest scored answers, currently with a score of 0 (3 upvotes, 3 downvotes). How to improve TCP/IP for an interplanetary WAN? was an answer I wrote when I was still new to Stack Exchange and Worldbuilding. For that reason, the answer is a bit jumbled, and all the different ideas are intertwined. This caused a bit of confusion regarding what exactly I was trying to say. Still, I was really happy with the ideas I proposed in that answer.

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  • $\begingroup$ I guess I should translate my comment (or maybe edit it with my mod superpowers? :-) ). Basically, I was saying that pairs of supermassive black holes (somewhere in the millions of solar masses apiece) might produce stronger gravitational waves than binary black holes of maybe a few dozen solar masses (which are the ones LIGO has detected). The catch is that supermassive black hole binaries produce waves with frequencies of a few nanohertz (about a billionth of a hertz), which is too low-frequency for interferometers like LIGO to see (LIGO likes waves of about 10-1000 hertz). $\endgroup$ – HDE 226868 Mar 4 at 22:03
  • $\begingroup$ @HDE226868 Thanks, that makes a lot of sense. Sorry for using you as an example, I was just trying to point out that I don't know as much as my answers might suggest. $\endgroup$ – John Locke Mar 4 at 22:06
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My top-scoring answer currently is Can there be a theocracy that practices religious tolerance?, which is a straightforward answer that doesn't really stand out for me. Second is the one about using technology dominance to bring about an endritch abomination, which I had fun writing. But my favorites, because I feel I did better work and contributed something more uncommon, are Truth stone: effects on the justice system and Evolution of neon kittens. In the first I used my knowledge of another judicial system with interesting parallels, and in the second I combined research and a little speculation about infection vectors to suggest that the improbable might be possible.

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    $\begingroup$ I have to say that I love Neon Kittens. That's a really cool answer to a really cool question. It's always fun to find gems like that hidden in the site. $\endgroup$ – Tim B II Mar 7 at 5:16
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1, 3 and 5 I'm quite fond of, even though they probably primarily only got points for humor. 2 and 4 not so much. 2 always felt like a fastest gun in the west answer, it's a fairly well known story and it was just a matter of who posted it first. 4 gets the credit for being one of the first answers I posted on the site and my understanding that apparently I have a certain touch when it comes to questions about Santa.

My favourite answers are way down the field though. Things like The cost of switching to electric cars? which is actually a carefully constructed answer rather than a couple of lines with a joke which covers many of my better scoring answers.

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I don't think so, yet I don't have a favourite answer either. My most upvoted answer would be How could I have modern computers without GUIs? - it sadly hasn't hit 100 upvotes (hint hint).


Other than that in general the answers I enjoyed writing up and got to be creative with, are also the answers I got more upvotes on generally:

Does a hexagon-based bread loaf make any sense?

Here I got to do a graphic assisting the textual explanation, I like doing graphics - alas it takes me too long usually.

What realistic way could limit an FTL drive to only travelling between stars?

Here I got to do math, and I think the math is even right! Math is fun, and showing some correlation or data by using math is double fun!

How could you make a fire appear a different color with medieval tech?

Here I stole a very nice graphic and used it to explain how some part of chemistry works. I learned a lot more during writing this answer than I knew before.

Mosquito Armageddon

Here I got to play with music, I enjoy music. And the theme of overusing hyperlinks for a comical effect - while the body of the question still holds facts - is a combination that made me very happy to have worked out.

Airship lifeboats, design alternatives

And HERE we finally hit my favourite subject: Airships. I got to use my airship knowledge as well as invert expectations by applying current day technology to a hypothetical question. As you can see in the comments, the engineering and logic parts became a really interesting problem to explain to people - while still being simple in concept.


So yeah, I don't have a favourite answer on this site. And mostly the upvotes I got fit how much I enjoyed writing the relevant answers. What I really enjoy though are my questions! :)

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My highest score answer is How might modern humans leave a message for 50,000 years? It was my third answer on this stack, and I am naturally fond of it. It was a bit of a perfect storm. It's the right answer for that question, and one that is naturally recognizable to the kind of people that an appearance on Hot Network Questions brings. Because it's basically the computer science answer on a site with a large population of programmers.

I don't know that I necessarily have a favorite answer, but poking around a little finds Consequences of the shift to a post-scarcity society, which was my first answer on this stack. I like it because I could apply my economics background to a science fiction question.

Looking at highly voted answers, I see What size would a diamond made from a human be? I like this because a lot of it is math. That feels like I'm doing something that many writers will need help doing.

But I actually think that Does it make sense to have a world with a very quickly orbiting moon? is better. The formula is more reusable. Many people might want to pick an orbital period and then determine the distance from the ground to the moon (or satellite). That seems like something that could appear in a lot of books. How many people need to know how many diamonds can be made from human remains?

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My highest voted answer is: What could justify a save point before a boss fight in RPG?. There I tried unconventional perspective, and I liked it.

However, my favorite is Why would a staff increase the magic power of a mage?. I wrote that risking downvotes and deletion, since it's a two liner, and unobvious answer. I'm really glad, it worked out! It's also my first attempt at "role-playing" and successfully nailed it!

Another one is Carnivorous wire grass a.k.a. Bloodgrass, inspired me to make the same bloodgrass in my DnD campaign later.

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    $\begingroup$ That role-playing answer was fantastic. It was great reading such a creative response to my question, thank you! $\endgroup$ – Sec SE - clear Monica's name Mar 13 at 20:00
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My two most upvotes answers are Why would a healing factor superhero still be afraid of things (▲52) and What light colors bulbs should be used inside a spaceship (▲43, accepted, and answer with highest upvotes in the question). In both answers, I reached the daily cap of reputation.

I can't say you about my favourite answer, but my 10 most enjoyable for me. As you can see, not all of them high upvotes, they just were entertaining for me:

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As at March 2019, my all time record answer is dave and Awesomeness Powered Magic. I agree that on balance, it's a good answer but to me it was an obvious write, so it's not the one that is my all time favourite.

So, which is my favourite? Well, it has to be Syrup Atmosphere. It was a really fun write because it covers some interesting science as well as good solid logic. That said, I suspect it didn't rate so well because the question isn't that popular, with only 305 views as at date above. That said, I seldom have an answer that comes out of the write so quickly or cleanly as that one did, especially of late when the answers seem to be more of a grind for me at present. Still, this is the answer that I keep thinking of when people ask me why I do what I do on this site.

Special Mention - The Smallest Manned Airship answer was another one of my favourites simply because after writing it, I found out that the Guinness Book of Records actually contained a ship of similar design in it. It was nice to see I was on the right track.

Anyway, over to others...

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Interesting question, I thought mine was until I checked my answers again. My top two highest voted aren't the best;
The highest is an answer to Why might wizards be unable to wear armour? which is only really highly rated due to virtue of it being an early answer. It's not a bad answer, just an obvious one.
Second highest is How might a carnivorous species subsist on a cycle of cannibalism?, and is a similar early and obvious answer.

My favourites are a little more interesting, answers that I enjoyed writing and that I feel really added something of value;
Creature that swims in the solid ground and How long could an eternal fire last

They're also my third and fifth highest rated answers (4th goes to a comedy Santa one), as well as being accepted answers. They were both quite early and were among my first accepted answers and highly voted questions / answers so I remember being quite excited to have an answer received so well.

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My highest-rated answer (by a mile, just shy of twice my next-highest) is to Logical reason why my dystopian government exiles rebels instead of killing them?. I don't dislike that answer; it's succinct, logical, and lets me paraphrase Sun Tzu, which is always a good time. But it's rather obvious and straightforward, and wasn't as much fun to come up with. (I really like the idea that was floated in the comments of turning exile into a reality TV show; I wish I'd come up with that.)

Like some of the other responses here, I really enjoy answers that encourage me to go look things up, like the guts of a nuclear warhead, the history of titanium, the structure of multiple star systems, or what exactly the svartalfar do in Norse mythology. I don't know if that produces good answers, but it's definitely more fun than an answer that pops into my head fully formed.

If I had to pick an absolute favorite, it would probably be the 500-year-old nuke, if only for the sage advice that you should not eat nuclear bomb parts.

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My highest voted answer was Why can't spaceships go underwater?, which basically was just "They aren't designed for it", followed by citations I got while looking on other Stacks and some funny questions that are related to the problem. I think it's a good and valuable answer, but by far not my favourite one.

I love questions that make you think about different ways of approaching magic or explaining concepts of magic that don't seem to make any sense for example in a book or videogame. One such question I enjoyed answering was How would it make sense that spellbooks or grimoires teach only one spell?

But I think my favourite answer was for the question Reality Check: Are these Honey Mouths and Thorn Shredders realistic? Just look at the pictures in the question. Look at them!!! Soooo cute. I loved this question and I absolutely loved answering it.

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  • $\begingroup$ Secespitus!! You're around again! Made my day seeing you show up again :) $\endgroup$ – Dubukay Mar 21 at 21:30
  • $\begingroup$ Hello @Dubukay! Thank you very much. It's nice to be back ;) $\endgroup$ – Sec SE - clear Monica's name Mar 22 at 8:10
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My top-scoring answer is to Why don't Vulcans just take the pills?, but I honestly think it is just an answer born of a pragmatic train of thought.
The answers I am proud of, mostly because English is still a foreign language for me and I still have a hard time with it sometimes, are to What kind of a unit/army would prefer fighting from a low ground?, Effects of stray bullets in space and How do spaceships determine each others mass in space. My personal favorite would be the first of these three.

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My highest scored answer is one that I made wiki: Why can't spaceships go underwater?. It is just a list of examples of spaceships that do go underwater. This got a score of almost 200.

Then comes an answer to Why would characters spend time answering imaginary questions to fictional hypotheticals?. The question is a version of "why does Stack Exchange work" masked as a worldbuilding one. I gave a joke answer that, despite being a joke, is also serious and true. I kinda expected it to be flagged as not an answer and deleted via queue, but instead it got a score of 127, which is 106 more than the accepted answer.

My third most voted one is in How do my spacefarers not get crushed accelerating to 0.2c?. OP wanted a way to prevent death by acceleration in a spaceship. I challenged the frame by showing that the acceleration involved was smaller than the gravity of Earth, so her space explorers would live. This got me a score of 111.


I don't think my answers above are great answers. My favorite ones are:

This is extremely gross and fascinating at the same time - the perfect mix for an excellent answer on WB.

And finally:

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    $\begingroup$ I left that comment under your answer and I still think this is one of the best answers I've read on the site. Love it! Thank you Renan! $\endgroup$ – Sec SE - clear Monica's name Mar 13 at 19:57
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Nope.

Note: I've been folowing this question, the first answers given were short and to the point and tended to list only one of each category (Highest voted - Vs - Favourite).

Latterly it has degenerated into a "upvote my several favourites" fest, which is interesting in the way reality TV is interesting (ie. not much) at least to me, I judge not. Therefore I prefer to follow the initial preferred model of answer.
Doesn't mean I'm going to

Some have answered regarding their output on other sites on the network. Personally, I have answered on seventeen sites on the network, should I interpret the question that way, I'd be invalidating it by making it too broad as "favourite" would depend on too broad a context.

My answer:

I'll give you

Could Finger-Fencing be Fatal?

Is favourite to me because it was the most fun, it made me snigger in the way I might have at primary school.

Almost realistic way to beat entropy

Is my favourite because it seemed to irritate a good many people who demanded that I edit it for length. I liked it long, it told a story.

How can a sapient species build an advanced civilization, while remaining on one continent?

Because I let go of the here and now and just wrote a story (albeit shoddily, briefly and with a well recieved, accepted answer) that's what I love.

My highest scoring is:

Plausible reason for gold-digging ant

It consists of five simple sentences punctuated with two images. It took me less than 5 minutes to compose and would not be beyond the reach of the average 7 year old's comprehension.

Comment:

There's an implicit question lurking there about the taste of the lowest common denominator - for another day perhaps.

Meta-comment:

I'd recommend that the OP award accepted answer status to the answerer that manages to justify their answer to this question as their favourite.

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