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Possible Duplicate:
Would it be possible to have a “community accepted” feature?
Allow users to accept answers on questions they didn’t ask

This is not a question about the who but rather the how. As such it is NOT a duplicate of those questions marked as possible duplicates. Please read on:

This seems to happen a lot (to me anyway, maybe it's just bad luck):

The Problem

When answering questions for new users they often don't know how to accept answers. Often a new user comments under an answer with something to the effect of 'thanks, this sorted out my problem' then promptly ignores any attempt to inform them that there is a mechanism for formerly accepting answers.

Currently there is no mechanism for converting such comments to actual acceptance even though the intention of the questioner is completely clear. Right now it's just left up to the community to upvote. This sometimes doesn't happen for even officially accepted answers so I think the situation has room for improvement.

In short I am addressing the problem that there is often no reward at all for answering questions for new users. This lowers the incentive to do so.

There are two possible kinds of solutions to this. I will detail each below. I will be happy to hear of any alternative approaches to solving this problem besides these.

I don't believe that this specific situation has been detailed before in a question here (I searched and couldn't find anything quite like my question. The questions listed as duplicates are are very general in comparison or just different). For them what down vote: Please answer this question as a comment or something, I am very interested to know: do you disagree that the current situation is sub-optimum? Or do you disagree on the suggestion that the obvious intension of the questioner should be honored?

Possible Solution 1: Making the current mechanism more obvious

I, as well as certain others, have taken as leaving this here as a comment on new user's first questions:

How does accepting an answer work?

This comment tends to get upvoted so I think this possible solution will likely be agreeable. So here it is:

Why not include some kind of welcome message or tutorial bubble or default first comment on all questions until the questioner has accepted their first answer?

Naturally we wouldn't want the thing to be annoying but it should clearly illustrate the mechanism of acceptance.

For example a comment like this may be appropriate for new members:

"welcome to StackOverflow. If you are unfamiliar with this site pretty please click here to see how to officially accept an answer to your question. It would be a great way to say thank you to anyone that lends a hand to you here"

So what do you think? The comment can then be automatically removed as redundant once the user accepts their first answer, and can be pasted onto each of their questions until then.

Possible Solution 2: Add a new mechanism for accepting answers

I know that suggesting that anyone but the questioner gets to tick a question is considered very naughty but, I urge you to ask yourselves why. And to read this before deciding it's such a bad idea.

If a user says 'I accept your answer' their intention is clear, yes? Also it is clear that they don't know they can green the tick to mark something as correct, or don't know the value of doing so. These facts are undeniable and totally totally obvious.

So why can't such comments me considered a mechanism for acceptance? Allowing some high-ranking joe (or a collection thereof) to vote a flagged comment as 'equivalent to acceptance' does not seem particularly harmful to me.

If this would in any way be harmful please please explain why. I have read explanations of why community acceptance of answers is a bad idea and how the very notion is made redundant by the voting process (and i agree), but this seems a little different since the intention of the questioner is crystal clear, ant it's that intention that matters the most.

Since answers can be marked as not correct after all I fail to see the danger in this.

In conclusion

The fact is that many correct answers are only unofficially accepted as correct. This situation is not ideal. I have made some suggestions about how to rectify the situation. These suggestions may or may not be seen as worthy but I am sure that there is some generally agreeable way to address this. So let's put on our thinking caps and address this. Why not?

share|improve this question

marked as duplicate by Toon Krijthe, Martijn Pieters, ChrisF, Andrew Barber, Yi Jiang Oct 17 '12 at 12:48

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.

Nope. Acceptance is purely up to the OP. For all others there are upvotes. – Bart Oct 17 '12 at 11:34
No. I'm against the idea of letting other people than the question author accept answers. Such thing is currently not possible, and should not become possible in my opinion. Plain and simple, no matter what angle you're going to look at this. – Shadow Wizard Oct 17 '12 at 11:35
It's not really a duplicate of any of those. I just assumed that if someone says 'I accept your answer' its pretty obvious that it was correct. apologies for the silly question, it just seems to happen a lot so it takes away from the incentive to answers questions for new users. Which to my mind is a bad thing. I agree that the user asking the question is the only person who can accept an answer, my question was more about the mechanism of that acceptance. meh – Sheena Oct 17 '12 at 12:14

Please stop asking people to accept your answer.

There's no mechanism to flag an answer as accepted, it's completely up to the asker to decide if and when they'll accept an answer, moderators can't and shouldn't intervene.

share|improve this answer
but what if they HAVE DECIDED but just dont know how to accept? what if they make their intension so obvious it can be called a fact? What is the harm in this? Please explain, I really fail to see any problem with polite suggestions and explanations – Sheena Dec 10 '12 at 13:35

This has been treated so many many times. No, no-one can accept an answer except the OP. Also note that the acceptance is not only on the correctness of the answer but also on how much the answer helped the OP.

What you can do is signal the OP through a comment along the lines of "If you found this answer useful, please consider accepting it clicking on the tick mark on the left". Nothing more can be done.

The upvotes will work as a "the community thinks this is the right answer" flag for future visitors.

share|improve this answer
To your attention: such comments would be flagged and removed. – Shadow Wizard Oct 17 '12 at 11:37
@ShaWizDowArd TIA = ? – Alenanno Oct 17 '12 at 11:38
Thanks in advance – Bart Oct 17 '12 at 11:38
@Bart ooops! Better write it out fully and be done with that. ;) – Shadow Wizard Oct 17 '12 at 11:39
@ShaWizDowArd Did you mean the comment I mentioned? Well, after it has served its purpose (i.e. make the OP accept or at least make them notice the mechanism), sure, they can be removed. – Alenanno Oct 17 '12 at 11:39
I totally agree with such approach but many others don't so it's pretty much frowned about. – Shadow Wizard Oct 17 '12 at 11:40
I personally don't really like such comments, though I'd take your version any day over the "Please accept my answer" type the OP seems to make. And more often than not they are not cleaned up, which annoys me. Yeah, I'm easily annoyed. :D – Bart Oct 17 '12 at 11:44
@Bart and Sha: There are occasions where they can be used, and some not. With a new user, you're just letting them know "hey I'm glad it helped but actually we do it like this around here". Just that, but hey, some users don't always use that approach. If you see such a comment and the answer accepted, simply flag it as obsolete, that is one of the reasons that appear if you flag a comment. – Alenanno Oct 17 '12 at 11:47
@Alenanno It is considered appropriate to ask the OP to accept an answer; any such comments will be deleted if flagged, even if the OP hasn't accepted any answer. – Servy Oct 17 '12 at 14:10
I've updated the question to better explain my reasoning. I dont believe that this specific situation has been detailed before in a question here (I searched and couldn't find anything quite like my question. The questions i think you are referring to are very general in comparison). Do you disagree that the current situation is sub-optimum? Or do you disagree on the suggestion that the obvious intension of the questioner should be honored? – Sheena Dec 10 '12 at 14:43

Simply keep in mind.

We should not (and can't) force OP to accept our answer.

share|improve this answer

There is another aspect to answers that's being overlooked:

Accepted answers are not the end-all. If the community likes the answer, it will be upvoted. Accepted answers imply that the OP has the answer they want. High upvotes imply that the community has an answer that they agree with.

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