What is meta? ×
Meta Stack Exchange is where users like you discuss bugs, features, and support issues that affect the software powering all 131 Stack Exchange communities.

I've been answering a lot of questions from new users lately where they tell me I've solved their problem but don't accept the answer.

I've taken to doing something like this in a comment under my answer when that happens (usually if my answer is the only one):

"Welcome to SO! Since you are new, you might want to check this link."

If there are several answers, I've posted a comment under the question itself along the lines of:

"Welcome to SO. If one of the answers below fixes your issue, you should accept it (click the check mark next to the appropriate answer). That does two things. It lets everyone know your issue has been resolved, and it gives the person that helps you credit for the assist. See here for a full explanation"

I've even done this when I come across a new user with several good answers and no acceptance even when I don't have an answer in the mix.

This has managed to prod several new users to accepts answers (mine or others).

My question is, is this considered bad manners? A good practice?

I've thought about it and really, given the response to it, it seems it's helpful in informing the new user of how things work without being an "ACCEPT MY ANSWER NOW!!!" type of comment.

share|improve this question

7 Answers 7

up vote 15 down vote accepted

I fully agree with your approach.

Harassing people about their accept rate (or about accepting specific answers) is definitely unnecesssary.

But especially in the case of new users, sometimes they are just unaware of the feature. As long as you link to an explanation, I think that's a perfectly acceptable thing to do (if the user has dozens of questions, and has been on the site for several months / over a year, I usually just leave it alone).

What I don't like to see:

You need 2 improve ur accepting rate ! - user12345 2 mins ago

This is unhelpful, because the target audience (the OP) probably has no idea what the commenter is talking about. Unfortunately, that comment would probably get "great comment" votes, further confusing the OP.

Your version ("Welcome to SO. If one of the answers below fixes your issue...") is very helpful, kind, and includes a link with screenshots explaining the situation. I'd say keep it up.

share|improve this answer
    
No "great comment" votes from me on those, I've actually begun flagging those "improve your accept rate" comments. –  Barak Jun 11 '12 at 14:35
    
@Barak I flag them as well =) And if they consist of little but "Accept rate" and a few other words, they are insta-deleted when you flag them. But I frequently see unhelpful comments like that get upvotes (I wrote this message earlier, then realized I didn't @-notify you - like I'm some kind of noob or something). –  jadarnel27 Jun 11 '12 at 17:52

is this considered bad manners?

Absolutely not, as long as it's done politely. You seem to be handling it well.

There are some shortcodes you can use in comments:

[ask], [answer] – link to the How to Ask or How to Answer page.

Unfortunately, some people won't accept answers, even when politely reminded. In that case, the community may correct the oversight by upvoting your answer. Either way, you'll still see some benefit from answering a question that has no accepted answers.

share|improve this answer

Since you're being polite about it, it is helpful; guiding the new users to resources teaching them how the site works.

So in my opinion, it's good practice.

share|improve this answer

It is an absolutely abhorrent practice and it should stop.

The system should be the one holding the novice user's hand. Our comments, as helpful as we might think they are, are simply noise. They grow stale. The user's accept rate improves, the user is no longer new, and now there is just some irrelevant, obsolete comment associated with the question or answer that can only confuse the drive-by viewer from Google.

Stop commenting on accept rates, directly or indirectly. Don't ever concern yourself with them, their impact on you is negligible. If your content is good, you will earn more than enough upvotes to offset the lack of a green checkmark. You will also be helping far more people than just the asker.

If anyone should badger the user, it should be a systematic message on the bright orange bar.

share|improve this answer

I think that it's a good practice. Even more, it would be useful if there was some automatic reminder of how to accept answers for new users, with a nice pic showing how to do it, that they see when they go to questions they have asked.

share|improve this answer
    
Actually there is, if they merely upvote the answer. –  jcolebrand Jun 11 '12 at 15:42

I put such comments under the question itself, for two reasons:

  • Less likely to be missed, and
  • Less likely to be associated with my particular answer.

Getting my own answers accepted is of less import to me than having an accepted answer, since my view of SO is essentially that of an authoritative repository. I often specifically state that answers should only be accepted if they were the most helpful to the asker--this is very often not my own answer, for a variety of reasons.

I also ask (largely rhetorically) if the asker has had a problem with getting answers they find helpful as a both an additional nudge, and to reinforce that the acceptance process depends not just on the answer, but also on a good question.

share|improve this answer

I disagree with most of other answers: Although your comments may have helped the new user to learn about stackoverflow, they don't serve the primary purpose of the site: To provide good questions and useful answers. Comments are allowed on the site for adding remarks that help to improve or understand the posts. With the "meta-comments", you are adding noise which is not relevant for most readers of the post, and typically makes it harder to find the relevant information.

So if we decide that new users should be reminded about accepting answers (which may still need to be discussed, e.g. here), this should be done in a way that doesn't litter the system – for example through a reminder by the system.

AFAIK, this is currently not implemented, so I created a request for a new feature that would allow sending reminders to new users without using comments.

share|improve this answer

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .