What can I do if I observe that a wrong and misleading answer is the most upvoted one among all the answers to a question and commenting, downvoting, and writing a better answer does not help and the OP of the wrong answer insists in being right?

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Great question. It breaks my heart whenever I see someone - usually a one-time user - go away with the wrong answer thinking it is right. –  Chris White Dec 3 '12 at 3:21
    
Can you be specific? This can be fixed by eyeballs. Sometimes it's a correct answer that just superficially seems wrong because it has another point of view. –  Ron Maimon Dec 3 '12 at 7:35
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How about we make a topic here, and post the questions which have answers in need of downvoting? Ofcourse the point of such a post would just be to attract attention to those answers in need of downvotes, not to force people who may not understand why its wrong to downvote. –  Hobo Dec 3 '12 at 10:20
    
Hm @Hobo, I must admit that I sometimes feel tempted to do exactly this ... :-/. But I agree with David that it would be a very rude and not approptiate thing to do. However, if the issue is brought to chat or meta to discuss the physics with a larger part of our community, it could well happen that in the course of the discussion, other users form an informed view on what the post discusse says and vote accordingly ... –  Dilaton Dec 3 '12 at 11:36
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3 Answers

up vote 10 down vote accepted

Comment on it, and downvote. Post it in chat/meta if you feel it needs more scrutiny/discussion. DO NOT flag, flags aren't for wrong posts. Also, put a comment on the main question, asking the OP not to accept it.

If it's already accepted, ask the OP to unaccept. But you can't do much more than that. This has come up multiple times on the mother meta.

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Thanks Manishearth, I will wait and see what happens some days. Maybe things self regulate and I dont have to bring the specific issue to meta. If not I will edit my question to include it and say about what I disagree in the answer. –  Dilaton Dec 2 '12 at 22:49
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When you see that an answer is wrong, you can downvote and leave a comment explaining why it's wrong, and of course write your own answer (not as a response to the other answer). But that's pretty much it. In particular, if you go to chat or meta and ask people to downvote it outright, that's not really appropriate. You can use the chat room to discuss it with other people, and explain your reasoning for why you think it's wrong, but don't send messages like "This answer is wrong, you should downvote it." You're not forbidden to tell people how they should vote, but doing so is rather rude.

Asking the OP to unaccept the answer is likewise inappropriate, although it's sort of a gray area depending on how you phrase it. For example, if you post a comment saying "Please unaccept this answer, it's wrong," that's not okay, but if you say "I don't think this should be the accepted answer because ," that would probably be okay.

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Hi David, thanks for this answer, I agree. Of course I would neither on meta nor on chat call on people do downvote anything. When going to chat or meta I would rather intend to bring the physics issue to a broader audience such that a consensus on the issue at hand can be found. –  Dilaton Dec 3 '12 at 9:56
    
Indeed, that is the way to go. –  David Z Dec 8 '12 at 1:48
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This very response will probably get me downvoted, but I don't care. I can say that after being shouted down for posting patently correct answers/explanations and essentially being accused of incompetence, I have decided to stop pointing out incorrect answers when I see them. The shouting down usually comes from one of two sources: grad students or researchers, neither of whom really take the time to think through better explanations to even the simplest of questions. There is far less subjectivity in explaining some things than we all want to believe or admit, and getting that point across is a struggle. Word choice matters because words influence thoughts, and that's where misconceptions can arise. I sometimes use anonymous examples from this site in class to illustrate such cases.

Ultimately, crowdsourcing correct answers by popular vote results in sites like this becoming unreliable resources for students (nevermind that the site may not have been conceived as being a reliable resource for students...we all know students at all levels come here). Although I'll stick around and use the site as a resource, I can never recommend it to even my best students.

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JoeH, maybe you already know, but keep in mind that voting on Meta also can mean "I agree with what you said" or "I disagree". Besides, voting here doesn't influence reputation. :) –  Alenanno Dec 3 '12 at 15:29
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"after being shouted down for posting patently correct answers" For what it's worth, the only downvotes I see against your account occur on material where you have relied upon a closely stated definition of some term in wide use, and it appears that the downvoters disagree with you on that definition. You might get a better response if write you answers as contingent on that definition rather than insisting that yours is the only correct definition. –  dmckee Dec 3 '12 at 16:44
    
Definitions matter, and they must be singular and unambiguous so as to eliminate misconceptions. I provided evidence for my choice of definition, but apparently that's frowned upon. –  user11266 Dec 7 '12 at 16:00
    
Furthermore, I see that others invoke problematic definitions and are surprisingly upvoted! See this question. We can both predict how my answer would probably be taken. –  user11266 Dec 7 '12 at 16:27
    
For a reference, see Teaching Introductory Physics by Arnold Arons (Wiley, 1997), pp. 84-86. –  user11266 Dec 10 '12 at 3:32
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