However, I hope this will be viewed as different. I believe it is more related to solving the problem discussed in do I always have to accept an answer
When I put an effort in writing up what I think is a well thought out reply on Stack Overflow, I really want to know how the suggestion worked out for the OP. It's not about the reputation points (honest!), it is about what in psychology (and user interface design) is known as closure. (When I searched for a possible duplicate, I learned that "closure" on Stack Exchange means something totally different — but I digress.)
There is already a couple of incentives in place for accepting an answer, such a +2 gain in rep. points, and an increase in the accept rate percentage. There is also (I understand) some robot messages bugging you if you don't accept an answer within X days. I'm not proposing that any of this is changed.
What I am looking for is a minor incentive for the OP to provide feedback in the case when none of the answers given (at least not in the mind of the OP) is acceptable.
What I suggest is something like this:
- After X days,
- If the question has a non-negative score,
- If there is at least one answer,
- If the OP has not accepted any answers:
- Then an alternative to accepting an answer should become available.
I'm open to other suggestions, but my suggestion is that a comment field labeled "Feedback" at this point becomes available for the OP, with an explanation that this may be filled in to provide feedback on the answers given and to give the reasons for not accepting any of the answers. Filling in and submitting this feedback form gives the OP +2 rep. points (same as for accepting the answer).
I don't think the risk of the OP providing meaningless feedback just to get the +2 points is high. People with such inclinations can get the +2 points today by accepting a (bad) answer. I think providing an alternative to accepting a bad answer will improve the overall quality of the feedback mechanisms in place at Stack Overflow.
That's all. BTW, I do not propose that filling in the form will cancel the negative karma not accepting will impact upon the OP's accept rate percentage.
I don't expect this to have a big impact. There are many things that prevents people from not accepting answers, and not being satisfied is only one of them. But I think a providing a small incentive for the OP to give feedback when not accepting any answers will improve the user experience for those of us who answer questions on Stack Overflow.