I've seen multiple meta issues where there's a discussion about a site policy or how to handle certain issues, and answers get marked as accepted. When this lines up with the wildly popular sentiment, it makes sense. But when the accepted answer is not the most popular one, it makes me wonder what "accepted" really means on meta.
Take, for example, this recently resurrected discussion about how to close game-rec questions.
It previously had an accepted answer with 14 upvotes. It now has a different accepted answer with 7 upvotes.
For the record, I'm on board with the new accepted answer. This is not an argument about that.
But it made me realize that whoever happens to be the one who asks the question on meta seems to have control over what gets marked as the accepted answer. Let's take it away from a specific case, and say someone comes in here looking for guidance on how to deal with some issue. They find a thread, and they see the following:
- An answer with a small handful of upvotes (say, 3-4) which has been marked as accepted.
- Another answer with a TON of upvotes (say, 20) which is not the accepted answer, and says something different.
At this point, they don't know which is correct. The accepted answer might be accepted because while not popular, some moderators laid down the law and the acceptance reflects that. Or it might be because the question asker happened to prefer that answer, even though it wasn't the popular and preferred one.
So what does answer acceptance mean on meta? I've seen this, which implies that moderators can accept answers to drive policy. However, that specifically talks about accepting the highest-voted option. What about when the highest-voted option is not the one that's accepted? It's not clear to me in those cases what the real policy really is. I have no way to tell if the question asker clicked accept, or if a moderator did it.
- Is the assumption that an accepted answer on Meta always has moderator approval?
- As a non-moderator, should I ever click "accept answer" in meta, or should I leave it for a mod to do?
- Are all accepted answers on meta assumed to be the official policy?
- If the accepted answer is not an indicator of policy, what is? How do I properly determine what the site policy is that was decided?