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I was looking up some information about N2O5 and came across this question.

The worrying thing is that Google automatically displayed the answer with the lowest points (-13 because it was completely wrong) as the best answer. This had me confused for several minutes and this isn't probalby the only case. I hope the site moderators can do something about this.

Screenshot

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    $\begingroup$ It's good you bring this up. It is evidently related to how the answers are presented in the post, and that with the most negative votes should probably not be coming up at the top. $\endgroup$
    – Buck Thorn Mod
    Nov 8, 2022 at 17:24
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    $\begingroup$ Hrrmph, these last two "answers" should nuked. While in principle downvoting should be enough, it's not necessarily the case... $\endgroup$
    – Mithoron
    Nov 8, 2022 at 17:51
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    $\begingroup$ All the wrong answers to that question have been deleted. Only a right answer remains visible. $\endgroup$ Nov 9, 2022 at 10:14
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    $\begingroup$ @BuckThorn - this might be a good question for Meta.SE .. the site designers may have a better idea why Google is adding particular answers. $\endgroup$ Nov 11, 2022 at 18:49
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    $\begingroup$ @GeoffHutchison I think the problem is on this site, with the order in which answers are presented. Google probably snatches content from the top. I agree with asking at meta though. $\endgroup$
    – Buck Thorn Mod
    Nov 11, 2022 at 19:04

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Not sure why you got that result. This was the top result I obtained when I asked Google "oxidation number for N2O5":

enter image description here

The link leads to the post with the first answer strongly upvoted at the very top and in this case the Google algorithms served me that content in the main results page (although I did not see an infobox).

Your mileage might vary, horse's mouth, caveat emptor, etc

The problem is therefore not fully reproducible. Something happening on Google's end or in the way SE feeds pages to Google is probably cause for variation between what different users see in the search results.

Following some inquiries, it seems in general the mixed quality of the IA-driven page summaries provided by Google is a known issue. This seems out of our control.

However, you can still do a few things: Google provides a way to submit feedback in the infoboxes and search result pages. This might help them improve their IA engines. Use that if you want.

In addition, the engineers at SE are busy figuring out how to help Google's crawlers. That's their job. You can go to main meta and ask for a progress result if you want to pressure them along.

That of course does not solve the immediate problem of infoboxes feeding you dodgy info. Until further notice the policy might have to be caveat emptor. Open that horse's mouth and take a close look before you use that info! And be glad that at least the bad info was free.

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