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Is it appropriate to comment on people's accept rate?

There are a few threads about this here already, but I did not find a useful answer that I could actually link to when people start flaming me.

When I answer a question, I look at person's accept rate and advice them to work on it in case:

  • their questions are more than 1 month old
  • they do not have a bounty started on any of those questions
  • their accept rate is in grey numbers (75% -)
  • their reputation is not 1 :-)

My idea is that if a question was not answered in more than 1 month, it needs a boost — possibly a bounty. Or, if the questioner resolved the situation already, they should self-answer their own question.

Many people don't know about these options which in my eyes only confuses people coming from Google and not finding an answer to their problem — simply because the question was abandoned but it's still getting lots of visits.

Is there any official StackExchange FAQ or advice on this? Or... what would you do?

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marked as duplicate by casperOne Sep 20 '12 at 15:57

This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question.

When people start flaming you? In what way? – Bart Sep 20 '12 at 14:17
Please, don't bother people with a positive accept rate. Ever. They clearly know how to accept answers and it's not your place to teach them do accept more. – Martijn Pieters Sep 20 '12 at 14:18
My suggestion: stop worrying about other people's accept rates. Let them worry about it. Please see this discussion for why:… – Aaron Bertrand Sep 20 '12 at 14:18
Your question is rather vague... do you perhaps mean "their accept rate is not in grey numbers"? In any case, accept rate comments are considered inappropriate. – Bart Sep 20 '12 at 14:19
I have questions that weren't accepted in one month and my accept rate is grey. If you start badgering me about my accept rate I will immediately flag your comment for removal. There is a reason why I haven't accepted answers for those questions and it is not your place to tell me (looking at the tags you're active in chances are you might not know). – ben is uǝq backwards Sep 20 '12 at 14:25
Also, I have almost 10x your reputation on SO; does this exclude me from your badgering or do you only annoy newer users who don't know they can flag these comments thereby making it less likely that they will return? – ben is uǝq backwards Sep 20 '12 at 14:25
@Ben you're an excellent example of a flaming person, thank you – Zathrus Writer Sep 20 '12 at 14:31
Why? I said I would flag it; I certainly wouldn't bother responding. I'm stating my opinion on meta, which is completely different ;-). – ben is uǝq backwards Sep 20 '12 at 14:44
I disagree that @Ben was flaming. He could have been slightly more diplomatic, but he wasn't out of line. I would chalk this up to "it's hard to infer tone from written communication for people you don't know in real life." – Pops Sep 20 '12 at 14:45
Your official answer is the accepted answer in the thread this is a duplicate of. Short version, don't comment on accept rate, ever. – casperOne Sep 20 '12 at 15:58
@Bart thank you for being as polite as humanly possible... I feel such a rage from many of the commenters here that it's moved me to leave the community as a whole... I hope there will be more Barts around in the future :) – Zathrus Writer Sep 20 '12 at 19:55
@ZathrusWriter Don't take it too personal. Keep in mind that many of the topics discussed here have often been discussed in some form before. Especially accept rate. There now seems to be a general consensus that commenting on it is inappropriate and that we should perhaps not display it to begin with. So if someone comes along who seems to suggest something else and who leaves the exact comments we tried to abolish (even though you might mean well) things sometimes get a bit heated. We're an opinionated bunch. But in general we all mean well. I hope you stay around. But that's up to you. – Bart Sep 20 '12 at 20:08
Just to add to @bart's comment you shouldn't let what happens here influence your future dealings with SE. Be the best you can and you'll be surprised how you are helped to achieve that. – ben is uǝq backwards Sep 20 '12 at 20:28
I've just had a very encouraging e-mail from the StackExchange team following my account deletion request... they have restored my faith in the creators of this system, so I decided to stay... I hope we can all learn from Bart to keep calmness and objectivity in our answers :) – Zathrus Writer Sep 21 '12 at 11:56
up vote 10 down vote accepted

The answer is: don't do anything. It has been said before that when someone tells you "please work on your accept rate", OPs should flag those comments for removal. This can mean only one thing: it's not accepted.

The fact is that you don't know why a certain user has not accepted an answer. Personally I still have open questions after months because of several reasons: I have not received a proper answer yet, or the answers are ok but incomplete, etc.

I know it can make you raise an eyebrow when you see someone asking the 100th question with a 0% accept rate1, but it's not a "certain" measurement. The accept rate does not show if you're a bad user or not, or your reasons for not accepting yet. It only shows that: your accept rate, a percentage.

Not to mention that it has been proposed to remove it, many times.

I think it could be acceptable in case we're talking about a new user who genuinely is not aware of how accepting works, etc. But instead of that wording I'd suggest "Hello xxx, note that you can mark an answer as accepted." although this comment might not be necessarily related to the accept rate.

1: If that actually happens then maybe that user is not aware of the accepting mechanism. :P

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thanks for your answer, it has been very insightful :) – Zathrus Writer Sep 20 '12 at 14:32
@ZathrusWriter Anytime! :) – Alenanno Sep 20 '12 at 14:40

As Alenanno says, don't do anything. This isn't your job to be the accept rate police. Comments saying things like "impruv yur accept rate" should be flagged as noise and removed.

If that's not enough to convince you to stop worrying about this, consider this:

  • The accept gives you 15 points... only 15 points. There is no potential for any more rep points from an accept.
  • A great, detailed, well-written answer can get 3, 5, sometimes 10 upvotes. In those cases, that extra 15 really doesn't make all that much difference.
  • The accept can be changed at any time, which means you're not guaranteed to keep those 15 points. Votes can be reversed too, after edits, but it takes X people to come back and all reverse their votes. This is not likely.
  • Sometimes people take a long time to think about what answers to accept. I've had answers I've posted get accepted months later, once the asker has time to reflect. Think of this as an investment in the future, where your score will continue to increase even if you don't participate in awhile.

In summary, it's just not a big issue, and there are way more important things to tackle, like guiding new users on writing good questions, for example. Hope this helps!

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The only case when I mention the accept rate is when it is zero, and the user has multiple questions with (1) upvoted answers, or (2) answers to which the user him/herself replied in the comments indicating that the answer helped to solve the problem. This is a strong indication that the user has no idea about the purpose of the grey checkmark outline next to answers.

In all other cases, I know that the accept rate is an entirely useless measure, so I ignore it altogether.

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