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I am new on this site, I asked this question about the logistics of corpse disposal for inspiration on a short story I'm working on. After reading the answers I decided on my own version which involves the mix of both ideas presented in this answer as well as some personal ideas which are not talked about and some inspiration from other answers as well.

I am reticent to accepting the previously mentioned answer as accepted since I don't think that on its own it really solve my issue. My thoughts are that I could post my conclusion as an answer to my own question or simply accept that answer since the other answers can still be read anyway. What would be the best way to go about this?

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    $\begingroup$ As a side note: well done in asking about your doubt here. $\endgroup$ – L.Dutch Apr 16 at 14:02
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Accepted answers are like car dealership stickers

Personally, I hate leaving one of my questions without an accepted answer. But that's me. Neither I nor you owe anybody anything. In fact, if you think about it, what's the point of telling people which answer suited your needs? At best, it makes everyone else feel bad. At worst, it might suggest that you don't understand your own problem.

Which leads one to the idea that an "accepted answer" is contrary to what Stack Exchange is all about. At best an "accepted answer" reflects the unique need of the OP and nothing more — until you realize it's the proverbial gold star on Stack Exchange's forehead, demonstrating its worth (not yours, not the respondents') to everyone else. "See? We facilitated the discovery of the solution to their problem! We're valuable!" Seen from this perspective, what you're being asked to do is provide free advertising for SE (the "car dealership") proving why people should "buy their cars" here and no where else.

To be fair, accepted answers do serve a purpose

There are a lot of people on our happy little world. And every one of them has a unique point of view. Each will have a different take on your question, a different perspective of what would be a good answer. Some will take the moment too seriously. Others will refuse to take it seriously at all. Still others are trying to be funny, or are sociopathic trolls. A few are compassionately trying to help you. Others are just trying to brag. And a small handful are desperately trying to be heard. And because of all these perspectives and intents, an open forum would result in a bazillion answers, most of which are usleless.

The folks at SE both knew this up front and have learned this in spades over time.

What you have today is a site that's designed to bring useful answers to your attention. Very bad answers are deleted by vote. Simply bad answers are downvoted. Good answers are upvoted. And (theoretically) the best of the best is accepted. Which means that being the "best answer" is a goal.

Goals are important, they direct people and help them conform to the rules, guidelines, and expectations of society. In this regard, the idea of a best answer is no different. It helps SE achieve one of its highest aspirations: to be specifically useful and not just another discussion forum that's a 90's tech version of Dr. Phil.

You haven't answered my question

Not yet, but I'm getting there. On the one hand is the reality that accepted answers are free advertising for SE, on the other is their usefulness to help guide people to providing useful answers and not snarky one-sentence pot-shots questioning the OP's genealogy.1 To make matters worse, this isn't a site like Stack Overflow where there usually is one best answer, ours is a creative and imaginative site where the soup of societal gestalt might inspire a completely irrelevant dessert that proved to be exactly what the OP was looking for!

Except nobody actually provided that dessert as an answer.

Part of the problem is that you used this site (Worldbuilding.SE) the way most people do and not the way Stack Exchange intended. Per your question, you came to be inspired. That is not what SE is all about. Remember, they want to be known as the place for useful answers. We acknowledge this in our own Help Center when we explain that your question should be "specific and answerable." You're not supposed to come here to be inspired (looking for an infinite list of things to draw from) but to find a solution to a specific problem (looking for a finite list of things of which one is the solution).

Is this your fault? Certainly not! We know perfectly well that most people come here to be inspired, to solve writer's block, to develop a story more complex than they're prepared to deal with, etc. But we must also work within the framework SE has created, and SE's framework doesn't support seeking for inspiration, which we also call raw idea-generation or "fishing for ideas."

Which was a long way of saying, like everybody else on Earth, you're unique, and you invited a bunch of other unique people to be unique with you, which resulted in a unique solution to your problem. It simply doesn't fit SE's basic mold.

So, where does that leave me?

This actually puts you in a great place. A place we like people to be in. You have the privilege of participating in our community! Cool! You can ...

  • Vote your conscience and accept the answer that was the closest fit to your solution.
  • Accept an answer at random.2
  • Vote according to peer pressure and accept the answer with the highest score.
  • Vote for the underdog by accepting an answer that's actually pretty good but didn't get a lot of votes or attention.
  • Encourage new users by accepting the answer of a user with a reputation of less than 500.
  • Meekly support the godlike aspirations of experienced users3 by accepting their answers.
  • Boldly cast the proverbial vulgar hand gesture at everyone by not accepting any answer at all.

Or, if you're really feeling your inner Nietzsche...

  • Post your own answer and then accept it.

You will neither be lauded nor punished for whichever path you take. But I'm delighted that you've asked about the paths! Many people who visit this site never participate past getting help with their own problem. Thank you for participating!


1People sitting on a bus on their way to work get really bored....

2This seems to be the way most U.S. presidents are elected. I'm just sayin' it. We're all thinking it. Admit it.

3Which also avoids their thunderous contempt that you believe you have the right to stand atop Mt. Olympus with them! Buahahahahaha!

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    $\begingroup$ By accepting your grand answer am I supprting your godlike aspirations? $\endgroup$ – Halhex Apr 16 at 15:10
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    $\begingroup$ @Halhex --- I think JBH is well beyond mere aspiration! ;) Um...seriously: I concur with the basic conclusion: if you come up with a better answer, feel free to accept it! One thing I would recommend, however, is that you give proper credit to the other respondents who inspired you to craft that awesome answer! At the least, upvote their answers and credit them by name in the body of your answer. $\endgroup$ – elemtilas Apr 16 at 17:03
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    $\begingroup$ @Halhex Hah! May Glarnak continue to bless your worldbuilding efforts! $\endgroup$ – JBH Apr 16 at 17:17
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    $\begingroup$ This answer is magnificent. (And this comment is not a good comment per SE guidelines) $\endgroup$ – Pedro A Apr 16 at 23:46
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You're under no obligation to accept an answer if you're not sure. While it seems conventional to accept the highest voted answer, it's entirely up to you how you approach the situation. You can choose any answer or none as you deem it the best solution to your problem.

As a stack we have quite a low rate of accepted answers, and not accepting one if you're not entirely happy is well within normal behaviour.

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It's okay to do this, and some people do, from time to time, but I think etiquette dictates that you do a couple things if you end up going down that route:

  • Carefully attribute all ideas in the answer to the person who came up with them, mentioning their username and linking to their answer.
  • Make the answer Community wiki, partly so you don't gain rep from another person's idea, but also partly because the summary answer is indeed a collaborative community effort.

All that said, there are some arguments against doing this at all. For one, you're combining a number of disparate ideas into one post. What if someone agrees with some but not others? How should they vote? Another point is that you're kinda just duplicating information, which can be helpful if there are dozens of answers, but not very useful if there are only a few - in which case it becomes clutter.

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You said all of this in what is luckily the first comment on, coincidentally, the highest voted answer. I'd accept that one. What would have made it perfect, would've been mentioning by name, whose other answer it was in that comment. Ideally with an inline link.

I hate when users add an edit to their own question to include "their answer". But in this case I think accepting that answer and adding a link in your question to the other one is the solution.


I have accepted Bob's answer, but I will be using parts of [Sally's] (link). ... and (if you must) in addition I will be [adding this other stuff].

But if that "other stuff" is at any great length, just make an entire self-answer. Don't condemn us into reading your own answer in your own question.

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