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For some time we have had an unofficial policy that we recommend users wait 24-48 hours before selecting a best answer. This unofficial policy has been transmitted through comments, usually haphazardly, and often only when an experienced user's answer is selected as a best answer and they're good enough to thank the OP for their generosity, but recommend they deselect and wait.

During the last week I've seen a perceptibly high percentage of young users selecting best answers within a couple of hours (or less) of asking their question.

It is desirable to wait 24-48 hours because Worldbuilding.SE has users all over the world (some of which work for a living 😁) and selecting a best answer so quickly can (and often does) lead to fewer answers, meaning the OP is selecting an answer that "works for them" but not necessarily the best answer that could have been given — due to simple impatience.

Further...

Selecting a best answer so quickly usually means the OP is asking solely from the perspective of getting immediate satisfaction for an individual problem rather than expressing their question (and waiting for answers) with the intention of participating as a member of the community, which would lead to questions and answers that benefit others in the future. It is in the best interests of the community and the Stack that we encourage people to become members of the community and not simply use the service as a quick-fix to (e.g.) writer's block.

Therefore:

I am submitting for review by the community a recommendation that we have a statement included in on-topic section of the Help Center that says the following:

It is recommended that, rather than quickly selecting an answer that's "good enough," users submitting questions wait 24-48 hours before selecting a best answer to allow our world-spanning community a chance to share invaluable experience and creativity.

Yes, it's a bit flowery, but it's also meant to be motivating.

  • Do you agree with the need for this policy/recommendation statement? Upvote this question.

  • Do you disagree with the need for this policy/recommendation statement? Downvote this question.

  • Do you think better/other wording would be useful or an issue is involved that I've not touched on? Post an answer.

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  • $\begingroup$ Related worldbuilding.meta.stackexchange.com/q/4935/30492 $\endgroup$ – L.Dutch Nov 4 '20 at 2:54
  • $\begingroup$ @L.Dutch-ReinstateMonica That was an interesting read. I'd be in favor of it, other than it would need to be a system-wide implementation (and SE's track record with such enhancements is deplorable at best). Frankly, I'm hoping it's enough to have an official "we recommend this" in the help center so that I/we can point to it to set a standard. $\endgroup$ – JBH Nov 4 '20 at 5:29
  • $\begingroup$ I wouldn't say they are young. More likely they are new to the Q&A format. BTW +1. $\endgroup$ – The Square-Cube Law Nov 4 '20 at 12:40
  • $\begingroup$ Related: worldbuilding.meta.stackexchange.com/q/5023/6986 $\endgroup$ – Frostfyre Nov 4 '20 at 13:03
  • $\begingroup$ Thanks, @Frostfyre. That makes this Q a fundamental duplicate of that Q with the exception of the help center proposal. It looks like the community has been in agreement for years. $\endgroup$ – JBH Nov 4 '20 at 14:55
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    $\begingroup$ I suppose the question now, since the community has been in agreement for years, is: how can this be implemented a/o enforced? $\endgroup$ – elemtilas Nov 4 '20 at 15:54
  • $\begingroup$ @elemtilas, that's the main issue: a policy which cannot be enforced is practically empty. What to do to sanction those who do not observe the policy? $\endgroup$ – L.Dutch Nov 4 '20 at 16:14
  • $\begingroup$ @L.Dutch-ReinstateMonica I think that observation is somewhat unrealistic. The help center is full of recommendations and policies that are, technically and practically, unenforceable. What the inclusion of a statement in the help center does is give us somewhere more authoritative than Meta to point people to. Realistically, we can't expect new users to read through Meta... but we can expect (or at least encourage) them to read the first two help center bullets. $\endgroup$ – JBH Nov 4 '20 at 16:28
  • $\begingroup$ @L.Dutch-ReinstateMonica what part of the question even remotely suggests an enforceable statement? maybe I missed the portion on corporal punishment. $\endgroup$ – IT Alex Nov 4 '20 at 19:43
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    $\begingroup$ @ITAlex what is the point of a policy if it is not enforceable? Otherwise it is just an advice $\endgroup$ – L.Dutch Nov 4 '20 at 19:58
  • $\begingroup$ @L.Dutch-ReinstateMonica Are you against modifying the help center? 99% of the help center is by that definition, advice. There's always value to an authoritative statement. $\endgroup$ – JBH Nov 4 '20 at 20:15
  • $\begingroup$ @JBH, the help center I read is about what to post and not post (failing to observe leads to post deletion at least), how to behave (failing to observe leads to suspension), how to vote (abuses lead to sanction). $\endgroup$ – L.Dutch Nov 4 '20 at 20:25
  • $\begingroup$ @L.Dutch-ReinstateMonica No offense, but read it again. The section "what topics can I ask about" spends very little time discussing that issue and a great deal of time providing general information about how to ask questions. I consider this entry a natural extension of that context and a fine place to put it. (And a lot of what's there doesn't lead to post deletion....) $\endgroup$ – JBH Nov 4 '20 at 20:39
  • $\begingroup$ I don't know whether this would be overkill, but if there's a concern that people (especially newer members) aren't aware of the wait-24-to-48-hours policy, would it be worth having it written somewhere as well as having it mentioned in the help centre? Specifically, I was thinking of having a message pop up when you submit a question that reminds you about the wait time. Maybe that's annoying or just not feasible, but it would at least make it visible to anyone asking questions. $\endgroup$ – K. Price Nov 9 '20 at 21:30
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    $\begingroup$ @K.Price We'd give our left eyes and our first-born children to do that... but unfortunately such a change would require system-wide software changes and Stack Exchange is notoriously unwilling to get involved like that. There's very little even in the help center we can modify - so we work with what we have. $\endgroup$ – JBH Nov 9 '20 at 23:58
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I’d edit that down:

Consider waiting 24-48 hours before selecting the best answer to allow our world-spanning community a chance to contribute.

Short and to the point. Doesn’t judge those who disagree. Makes the case nicely.

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This isn't like other Q&A sites

Worldbuilding is inherently subjective and open-ended, aside from a few question types such as , , and . I would argue that, in many cases, it isn't appropriate to accept an answer at all. There is usually no one right answer since each author can apply ideas differently depending on their story and setting.

What does it mean when the OP accepts an answer here? Does it mean that they simply liked that answer best? Does it mean that they decided to use that idea for their world? Are they just doing it for the +2 reputation? Because it's expected by other sites on the network?

I was informed about the rule on one of the first questions I asked. I was told to wait a week if I remember correctly. I realized that made a lot of sense, so I have since been a lot more patient and deliberate with accepting answers.

Essentially, I would word it like this: (italics for emphasizing my additions)

It is recommended that, rather than quickly selecting an answer that's "good enough," users submitting questions wait at least 24-48 hours before selecting a best answer to allow our world-spanning community a chance to share invaluable experience and creativity. For more open-ended questions, you might consider not accepting an answer at all, as not to discourage creativity from community members in the distant future.

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  • $\begingroup$ As an aside, I would personally consider accepting answers to be an anti-feature since there are many very popular questions on SO with accepted wrong answers. $\endgroup$ – Beefster Nov 4 '20 at 23:21
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    $\begingroup$ My answer to another meta question mentions the fact that a "best answer" is really free advertising for Stack Exchange and not particularly useful anywhere than, perhaps, Stack Overflow. However, it's a system-wide feature so there's no reasonable way to stop people from using it. Worse, while "worldbuilding" may be inherently subjective and open-ended, Stack Exchange is not and we're mandated to follow their rules before our own. Consequently (and regrettably), that makes this a non-answer. $\endgroup$ – JBH Nov 5 '20 at 6:10
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    $\begingroup$ In fact, to make a point about your suggested rewrite... open-ended questions are specifically rejected in the help center at the Stack Exchange level (see the 4th bullet). And, honestly, since Stack Exchange is not a discussion forum, we really don't want open-ended questions. (And since allowing them would be a system-wide change, it's not a useful discussion to have here.) $\endgroup$ – JBH Nov 5 '20 at 6:12
  • $\begingroup$ FWIW, I've always looked at accepted answers as a way to credit that another user was helpful, above and beyond upvoting. (I often upvote answers that are "good" but not applicable to my particular situation.) And, yes, my usual criteria for acceptance is "decided to use this in my story/game/whatever". $\endgroup$ – Matthew Nov 5 '20 at 14:02
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I'm not sure time is the best way to measure this - A recent question I asked got some really interesting insights after 3 days, and by accepting an answer I might of inadvertently discouraged them. It needs to be something that can be summarised as: "Don't accept until no-one has any new ideas".

I'd suggest don't accept an answer until it disappears from the home page. When someone answers it jumps to the top of the home page, leading to more answers. Once it disappears from the home page, it's less likely to get new answers.

An alternative way of expressing it, and a rule I'm thinking of following myself is to not accept until a day goes by without an upvote or an answer.

I'd personally prefer there to never be a requirement for a single best answer (If there's dozens of answers I'm probably going to take bits and pieces from a few high ranked answers than take one exclusively), but that isn't going to change on SO.

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    $\begingroup$ Regrettably, this doesn't work. I've seen new answers appear on posts that are years old. (If I recall correctly, there's even a badge for posting an answer after another has been selected and getting more votes or something like that.) Worse, a question can clear the home page in seconds if a dozen new questions roll in. There's no objective way to measure this condition and we're somewhat stuck with Stack Exchange's design. $\endgroup$ – JBH Nov 5 '20 at 6:07

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