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For the sake of future reference by others who have the same issue as the asker, it would be useful to set a "conclusion" when accepting an answer.

There can be a list of predefined conclusions, like when flagging/closing a question:

  • Problem solved due to this
  • Great idea, exactly what I was looking for
  • Bad idea, but accepted since no better answers
  • Proves why my question is impossible to accomplish
  • Proves why my idea is not a good one
  • Best answer of the lot, though no answers solved my problem
  • My favorite idea of the lot, though the others may also be good
  • etc
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This should be a good one to follow the answers on... – squillman Aug 14 '09 at 20:00
up vote 5 down vote accepted

I don't see a point to this; a comment suffices whenever needed. Taking your points one by one:

  • Problem solved due to this - That's what the accepted answer is supposed to be.
  • Great idea, exactly what I was looking for - That's what the accepted answer is supposed to be.
  • Bad idea, but accepted since no better answers - You shouldn't be accepting this. If you do (if, say, it's an ugly hack but it works), then leave a comment saying so.
  • Proves why my question is impossible to accomplish - This should be readily apparent from the answer and the fact that it's accepted. If not, add a comment.
  • Proves why my idea is not a good one - This should be readily apparent from the answer and the fact that it's accepted. If not, add a comment.
  • Best answer of the lot, though no answers solved my problem - You shouldn't be accepting this. If you do (if, say, it gets you halfway), then leave a comment saying so (Really, though, you should probably post your own answer that includes this info in addition to how you took it the rest of the way).
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No but theres no why you can run searches, etc for such parameters. Like later someday when all answers have conclusions set, you can search for all answers which "solved the problem" minus all that "proved my idea bad". – Jarvis Aug 14 '09 at 20:02
Just search for all your answers you posted that got accepted, check over a certain date range, and then see what type of comments were left on your answer if any. You shouldn't have to add a whole new mechanism when commenting works perfectly for this purpose. – TheTXI Aug 14 '09 at 20:05
I think meta is about discussing the future of SO et al, not just proving why every idea is not needed. – Jarvis Aug 14 '09 at 20:09
+1 for Pesto, BTW. And half the part of Meta is disproving why feature requests are not necessary. What's the point in having a discussion area for feature requests if all we are going to do is say "Hey good job! You suggested something!" – TheTXI Aug 14 '09 at 20:14
Yea, we should say, "Hey good job! you suggested something useful!" – Jarvis Aug 14 '09 at 20:16
I am not a practitioner of the everyone's a winner line of thinking. If I think you or anyone else suggests something that I disagree with, I'm going to say so. I'm not going to hand out gold stars and head pats for you or anyone else for making a "good effort" – TheTXI Aug 14 '09 at 20:19
@Jeremy: This ain't kindergarten. – Eric Aug 14 '09 at 20:22
+1, this was pretty much the answer I was about to type out. :) – John Rudy Aug 14 '09 at 21:25
@Jeremy: You'll notice that here on meta, people will jump out and say, "great idea" -- when they think something's a great idea. And people will say "bad idea" when they think it's a bad idea. It is what it is -- not everything will be considered useful by the community at large. – John Rudy Aug 14 '09 at 21:27

Like the idea, don't like your list. Here's what I propose:

  • Problem solved
  • Great advice
  • Favorite answer
  • I like checkmarks

I don't like the idea of having an accepted answer when no answers really help the OP (which a few of your reasons imply). I think the list needs to be as succinct, general, and flexible as possible, which is why there are just a few items in my list, and all are fairly generic.

As for implementation, have it work just like the close button. You click the checkbox, a radio button form pops up, you hit one, you hit "Accept Away!" and green the screen.

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You have much more flexibility with commenting. Making/Encouraging the op to choose from a list of cookie-cutter reasons is always going to leave "some reason" off. Might as well just encourage the OP to say in his own words why he marked it. – TheTXI Aug 14 '09 at 20:04
@TXI - 100% agreed. However, I'm a data junkie, and would love to see statistics on this stuff. Having a flag like this (how many problems get accepted answers vs. how many advice questions do) would be really interesting and tell us a lot about the usage patterns of SO. – Eric Aug 14 '09 at 20:06
The "top" option (the default) should be "null" though. Anything that FORCES a user to enter information will make the information wrong as often as it is right. – devinb Aug 14 '09 at 20:11
I like checkmarks too! – Brad Gilbert Aug 14 '09 at 20:15
@devinb: If "I like checkmarks" is wrong, then I don't want to be right. – Eric Aug 14 '09 at 20:15
I don't ever want to be right. It's a burden I've learned to live with. – devinb Aug 14 '09 at 20:48

When I see a check mark on an answer, I am going to assume that the answer was either the best answer provided for that particular OP. I can usually tell by looking at timestamps and the other content posted whether the answer was accepted because it was fast and acceptable or because of the overall content.

I don't really see any need to add more complexity to the accepted answer mechanism when all that should be done is encouraging the OPs to post a comment explaining why they accepted the answer. Something as simple as "Thanks this worked perfectly" is usually sufficient. If the OP feels like elaborating on why they chose the answer, that should be their prerogative.

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Its not about getting feedback in the form of "plain text", but for data and statistics, and running automated searches. – Jarvis Aug 14 '09 at 20:09
And how many people are genuinely going to be running data and statistics on the quality of their accepted answers? Someone has to sit around and actually think about cost vs. benefit and this in my opinion is one of those things where the potential benefit is so minor that it is not worth seriously considering. We already have tons of instances where users don't even know how to accept an answer, so introducing yet another step for them to say "this is a good answer" is going to introduce even more problems in your "statistics" – TheTXI Aug 14 '09 at 20:16
@TheTXI - You have a point here. – Jarvis Aug 14 '09 at 20:18
@David: That's what I would do, too. I'd even go so far to say that if you aren't doing it this way, then you're effectively lying to future users with the same problem. – Hilarious Comedy Pesto Aug 14 '09 at 20:41

I agree with Pesto and TheTXI - a comment by the question owner on the accepted answer is enough.

Low rep users get a helpful reminder to comment on posts they've down-voted - perhaps this can be extended to answers they've accepted. Or the comment reminder could show up on the first few accepted answers that a question owner makes.

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I'm all for people making note of the final outcome when they've had to work through some thorny problem with the aid of answers on SO. But canned conclusions don't do it for me; if you have something interesting to add regarding your use of the accepted answer, then please, go into detail! Otherwise, please don't bother.

Oh, and I also think they should be appending these epilogues to the question itself. Cut to the chase, you know? As an added bonus, they can be doing this today...

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