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    How are the answers to questions sorted? They don't seem to be sorted exactly by time of answer, or by number of votes, or even by any reasonable combination of the two.

    I'm asking this because I've noticed a few questions on math.SE where it seems like one answer has gotten lots of upvotes not because it's necessarily "better" but just because it happens to have been first. (I'm not going to give links because things might change!) I'm not suggesting any sort of fix but I'm just wondering if anyone knows how this works (and if it might be different between different sites running on this software).

    • CommentAuthorWillieWong
    • CommentTimeNov 19th 2010

    You can choose! When there are multiple answers, there will be three tabs appearing to the right of the "X Answers" line just beneath the list of comments.

    Clicking on the three options you can choose to sort by date, reverse sort by date, or by votes. This also works on math.SE by the way...

    This is partly conjectural based on observations, but I think an accepted answer always appears first. After that the ordering is by most votes, and in case of a tie between votes, the earlier comes first.

    Yes, it's true that often times the first gets more votes, even when subsequent answers are at least as good. Perhaps there's sometimes a sense that later answers "piggy-back" on the first and so deserve less credit, I don't know.
    • CommentAuthorWillieWong
    • CommentTimeNov 19th 2010

    It is definitely less of a problem here, where except for big-list type questions, the number of answers are limited by self-selection. Math.SE remembers your settings, I think. I remember being annoyed early on that it always appear roughly in the order of number of votes, so I clicked on the "Newest" tab. Now except for the accepted answer (when it exists) which comes first, everything else is always sorted with the newest answers first.