How are featured answers selected?
Featured answers are selected by Socratic Heroes and subject moderators. Together, this group is known as reviewers.
Reviewers are knowledgeable in their subject(s) and understand what good teaching looks like in a Socratic answer. They have proven this by writing excellent Socratic answers themselves.
The reviewers look at answers in their subject written by active Socratic contributors. They review each one and decide whether it is exemplary, choosing to feature answers that represent good teaching and the level of quality others should strive for.
If you see an answer you believe should be featured, suggest it to one of your subject's reviewers by leaving them a note.
Here's to striving for greatness!
To really drive the point home, I have to say what matters most is the quality of teaching. Students have many options for learning. They can go to multiple websites (Yahoo answers, Wikipedia, etc), but what makes Socratic different and wonderful is the teaching.
This can be challenging because you don't know what background the person has. Your answer for someone who is 13 is going to differ from your answer for someone who is 23, but good teaching is good teaching. Linking to other answers on Socratic or elsewhere to understand the basic vocabulary is always a good idea. Including simple and more detailed images is usually quite helpful.
When I choose featured answers, I'm looking at the teaching. Did you take the time to really explain this to a student who might be struggling? Can your answer only be understood by those with a degree in the subject or can it be understood by someone who might not have a whole lot of knowledge?
As I go through the answers right now looking for content to feature, I wanted to add another comment to this question. Some questions are better suited to becoming featured answers than others.
For example, a question asking where the medulla oblongata is located is relatively straight-forward, and you might think there's not be a whole lot to expand upon. A perfectly good answer could tell you that it is a part of the brainstem and is in the hindbrain. Including an image showing the medulla oblongata in relation to the brain is a good idea. If there is related content across Socratic, you may want to link to it. If the answer stopped there, there would be absolutely nothing wrong with the answer.
However, I probably wouldn't mark it as a featured answer. This has nothing to do with the quality of the answer and the amount of work or effort the person or people put into answering the question. The answer would still be a good answer and we need these types of answers on the site. I know as a regular on this site, I really appreciate it when I see well-constructed, well-explained answers, regardless of the question asked. Just because your answer isn't featured doesn't mean it isn't good!
Featured answers are meant to be examples for others and showcase the best work on the site. While the above example is a good answer, I wouldn't really say it's the best example to point someone new towards, if I wanted that new person to understand what types of answers we're looking for.
In contrast, a question that asks how the human brain differs from other animals leaves room for a lot of explanation. While someone could still write a simple, straight-forward answer to this question, there's probably plenty of room for explanation, linking to other content, breaking down complicated terms or concepts for the reader, and so forth.
Let me be clear though, simple questions such as the medulla oblongata example above can still be featured. There's no rule saying they can't. It may take some creative thinking to add more explanation and the answer should still be clear (not just a rambling of information about the medulla oblongata). It just may be less obvious how to make the answer really robust when you compare that question to the example question about the human brains differing from other animal brains.