I asked a question with multiple sub-questions, all in the same theme. There are four answers, which together answer the whole question without significant overlap.

I'd like to move this question from "unanswered" to "answered," but no single answer does the job; what should I do? I could accept the answer that I like the best, but that seems unfair to the others.

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    $\begingroup$ Take Todd's advice. Or, accept the answer you like best. Or, flip two coins. Does it really matter? $\endgroup$ Commented Jun 27, 2017 at 23:40
  • $\begingroup$ @NoahaSchweber Please see this related post meta.mathoverflow.net/questions/1491/… $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 3, 2017 at 8:49
  • $\begingroup$ Just a terminological nitpick (which you are probably aware of, so more for the benefit for others.) As soon as the question has an upvoted answer, it is no longer "unanswered" in the terminology commonly used on SE network. (For example, it will not be in the unanswered tab.) Of course, I agree that if there is an accepted answer, that makes indication that the question has been settled much clearer. $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 3, 2017 at 9:20

2 Answers 2


One thing I've seen done in this situation -- and it may be the best option under the circumstances -- is to summarize all the answers in one master answer yourself. I would write it anew (without copying-and-pasting), tie it together nicely with a narrative thread, credit individuals as appropriate, and (important) make it community wiki. Then accept it as the answer after a couple of days. If others have more information to add, then it can go into the master answer.

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    $\begingroup$ As an example for a softer question, I suggest mathoverflow.net/a/31516 for a template . There may be better examples which Todd and others may suggest. Gerhard "Works From His Own Experience" Paseman, 2017.06.27. $\endgroup$ Commented Jun 27, 2017 at 21:55
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    $\begingroup$ The example I had in mind was mathoverflow.net/questions/15841/… $\endgroup$
    – Todd Trimble Mod
    Commented Jun 27, 2017 at 22:01

This is somewhat not-an-answer, as it is just advice/thoughts that cannot be used in this instance, since that horse has already left the barn. But it is something to consider in the future.

I think that in cases like this where there are multiple questions along the same theme but each of which can stand alone, it would probably make more sense to ask them as separate questions at the start, adding links between them to highlight the connections. This way if different users happen to answer different parts, each of these answers can be accepted as having adequately answered the different parts.

Recently the wording of the "too broad" close reason has been tweaked to make it clear that this is not an optimum way to ask questions given the Stack Exchange architecture (emphasis added):

Please edit the question to limit it to a specific problem with enough detail to identify an adequate answer. Avoid asking multiple distinct questions at once. See the How to Ask page for help clarifying this question.

(I am not claiming that the question should have been closed, just using this as an argument in favour of splitting such questions into their independent parts.)

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    $\begingroup$ I see an issue with this for MathOverflow. Sometimes one is grappling with a specific situation and is looking for some or any thread to help unravel and understand it. The meta question is "Help? Reference or Idea please?", and sometimes this is permissible. However, more experience allows one to specify the kinds of things that might help, and specifying these indicates that more thought has been put into the question. I think such advice as stated in your post is bad for this forum. Gerhard "It Suggests A False Optimum" Paseman, 2017.07.02. $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 2, 2017 at 15:56

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