# Should I prefer the most up-voted answer or the accepted answer?

I came across this question, where the accepted answer had a score of $$-7$$, but there was also an answer with a score of $$31$$. As a student who has absolutely no idea about quantum mechanics, or the"correctness" or "wrongness" of the accepted answer, which answer should I prefer?

• Note that the person who scored -7 with that accepted answer also posted another answer, which scored -1. – PM 2Ring Feb 28 at 2:32

I would personally suggest using the most upvoted answer, when compared to a negatively scored accepted answer.

That is because the "Accepted Answer" only reflects what the person asking the question thought was the best answer. On the other hand, votes provide you with information about how good the community thinks any given answer is. That's not to say a question with +30 is always better than an answer at +2, or that the community will always bring the best answers to the top.

If I had to choose between an answer chosen by the person asking the question (who may have limited knowledge on the subject, which is why they had to ask), or the general community, I would lean towards trusting the community opinion.

Again though, this is a very loose framework and will take some critical thinking for every set of questions. In a situation like the one you referenced, it seems likely that you should consider the positively scored answers over the accepted one. In general though, if you are unsure, just consider the differences between answers, and use that as a starting point for your own research. This is all just user-generated content, so it is possible for the community to make mistakes.

Another thing to be weary of is the effect that a "Hot Network Question" may have on answers. If a question has a lot of attention in a short amount of time, it was probably visible on the front page of Stack Exchange main site, and got a lot of attention from people who don't regularly visit Physics SE, and who may not have a strong knowledge of the subjects. In those cases, sometimes answers that are incorrect, but represent a common layman understanding, may receive upvotes that they regularly wouldn't here, leading to potential confusion. This isn't that common; but I really want to stress the fact that as knowledgeable as our community often is, there are ways for mistakes to happen, so it may be beneficial to research for yourself if you don't know which answers to trust here.