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Marking a question accepted is the way for someone who asked a question to state that a correct answer has been given. This is a very nice mechanism, because when someone posts a nonsense-answer, you still hope that someone else comes by to answer the question.

On http://rpg.stackexchange.com/ it's very obvious what has been accepted. In the case of an available answer, a text stating the number of answers is given. On Stack Overflow, all answered messages are marked nearly the same. I just looked it up: yellow text means an answer has been accepted.

In my opinion, it should be much more clear on first sight if an answer was accepted, because I might want to look into questions that were not accepted. And I don't want to look into answering questions where an answer has already been accepted.

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Ah well. Of course I didn't bother to research how often this has already been asked. –  Akku Oct 13 '12 at 20:00
    
You are so absolutely spot on with this observation. –  Chris Gerken Oct 14 '12 at 18:47
    
In the comments under the answer, it's clarified even more why this system is flawed. If it's a feature for power users, make it a clear feature that's only visible for power users (we know who the power users are). If it shouldn't be seen, make the difference go away at all. It's neither fish nor fowl. –  Akku Oct 15 '12 at 11:55

1 Answer 1

Keep in mind that the goal isn't just to help the original poster, but also the goal is to provide a knowledgeable resource for future visitors for years to come.

All an accepted answer means is this: It's the answer that solved the original poster's problem.

This doesn't mean that you or I couldn't come along and write a better answer. The system is designed in such a manner that, if you have a better answer, you can add it. There have been times when I've seen an accepted answer that was targeted specifically at the op and left a lot of questions for people who, for instance, may not have a lot of experience with the subject and who would have benefit from a more generalized answer. Sometimes I've benefit the most from answers 2 to 3 levels below the accepted answer.

When I come across these posts, if I have more to add and happen to have knowledge on the subject, I'll post an answer. You can still help out future visitors by posting better answers, and you can still receive upvotes from posting an answer on a question where the op accepted an answer. The accept is a mere 15 reputation, but 10 upvotes on a really great beneficial answer can increase your reputation far more than accepts will.

Lastly, remember that accepts can be changed weeks, months, or even years later. Again, this is by design to encourage constant improvement. If you write a better answer, it's possible that the op could select yours. This is not a permanent operation.

In summary, don't be afraid to post an answer to a question just because you think the op is satisfied with the result. The system, as it's designed, is setup in a manner to encourage people to add better answers, and anything that highlights the fact that a post already has an accepted answer would just simply discourage others from answering, and would not support the goals of constant improvement.

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I agree with everything said in this answer, but it doesn't answer the specific question: Can it be made more obvious whether or not the OP has accepted an answer. –  Chris Gerken Oct 14 '12 at 18:48
    
Hi @ChrisGerken, the whole point is that it's not necessary. I like the idea of people providing better answers to posts that already have an accepted answer, and I think Stack Exchange supports this idea as well. Highlighting or making it look like a post is "done" doesn't support these ideas and is detrimental. I updated my answer to clarify this. –  jmort253 Oct 14 '12 at 18:55
    
I understand your points, but I don't agree fully. Oftentimes, the problem is that an answer doesn't explain the problem or is not suitable because of other reasons. The outward appearance nevertheless is, that the question has been answered. Downvoting the answer doesn't help much here, because you have an answer, and Stackoverflow visitors might not look into answering question that already have been answered. The system makes sense from a game-designers point of view, as you won't answer a question badly as there's risk that the answer will be downvoted, but in fact I've seldomly seen that –  Akku Oct 15 '12 at 7:02
    
@Akku, your argument and issues you describe are precisely why I propose not making it more obvious that a question has an accepted answer. If we discourage people from even reading the posts, then we discourage people from providing better answers. The point is we want to continue to improve these posts, and to do that, we need to make sure they still get views. :) –  jmort253 Oct 15 '12 at 7:40
    
@jmort253 As a logical consequence if this is the case, is should not be displayed at all that there's an accepted answer. If the light yellow is just a feature for power users, why then not make a clear distinction for everyone with 500+ or 100+ reputation, and leave the distinction away for everyone else? Also, I don't see why this is handled differently for different stackexchange sites. I smell a lot of flawed logic here. –  Akku Oct 15 '12 at 11:51

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