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I think it would be cool if a question would eventually open up to moderators to accept answers on the user's behalf, once a time period has passed. The asking user would get the rep score for the accept.

I know I've seen questions successfully answered with lots of upvotes and no accepted answer that sit there for months unaccepted. This would give superusers a little more functionality and would tie up a lot of loose ends.

What do you think?

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I think you misunderstand the role of the moderators. They are solely here to ensure that interactions on the site is civil and handle disputes with users. There are only 2 SO moderators, how long will it take them to read and accept answers on 33000+ questions? –  Diago Aug 27 '09 at 22:28
I would consider myself quite unqualified to accept answers on a wide range of programming subjects. Sometimes I can't even decide if a question is programming related or not. –  Bill the Lizard Aug 27 '09 at 23:42
Note that this question has not yet had an answer accepted ;) –  Default May 20 '10 at 13:04
Nor will it ever. Think of it: this question will never, ever be answered. Pretty unsatisfying, huh? –  Chris McCall Jun 3 '10 at 21:06
Mods don't need more work! –  studiohack Jan 19 '12 at 23:47
What if the user left a comment that says thanks, but didn't flag it as an accepted answer because they don't know how to use the site? –  CharityAbbott Dec 28 '13 at 2:31
It doesn't have to be moderators, It can be a review queue for trusted users over 20,000, and you need 5 of those to accept the same answer. or even users with high score in that specific tag like synonyms. –  i3arnon Jan 31 '14 at 14:56

7 Answers 7

No, this is a user-oriented site.

It is intended to answer people's questions. They know their problem the best and know what solves it for them. We need to leave it up to them to accept whatever answer they want. People will know what the community agrees with by the upvotes. The power to accept an answer should stay in the user/asker's hand. That way you have both opinions/views in a question.

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Let's check back in on this discussion when drive-by askers build up a huge library of unanswered questions with no mechanism for acceptance. At present, there is no way to reduce the number of unanswered questions. Eventually there will need to be some kind of cleanup process. –  Chris McCall Aug 27 '09 at 22:00
Maybe eventualy, but SO is the longest running of the trio and that has only been up for a little over a year. At this time, we shouldnt be forcing anyone to answer questions. The questions are still useful to people because of the up and down votes indicating what people agree with even if there is no "accepted answer". This may change when the site has a another year or two behind it, but for now, we should let it be. –  Troggy Aug 27 '09 at 22:11
@Chris: The statistic of "number of questions without an accepted answer" is not a problem in itself; it's just an arbitrary metric. If there really is a problem of askers not finding acceptable answers to their questions, simply finding ways to reduce the metric won't fix the actual problem. –  ShreevatsaR Feb 13 '11 at 19:05
It's not arbitrary, it's incredibly annoying to review my answers and see several that I spent a lot of time on that have not been accepted. There's no way to get in touch with the asker and no way for the answer to ever be accepted. It discourages me from answering questions, or at least spending a lot of time on my answers. This problem will eventually be solved, and the solution will be even more arbitrary and unsatisfying than having the answers accepted by a superuser. Mark my words. –  Chris McCall Feb 14 '11 at 17:27
@ChrisMcCall: Why does it matter so much to you that your question is accepted or not? A question with unaccepted answers is still useful to the people who read it. The only time this might matter is if an answer had a lot of competing higher-voted answers for reasons that don't have to do with quality (those answers were first and not enough people have looked at the question to upvote the better answer). –  Nicol Bolas Dec 8 '11 at 9:06
@Nicol because I crave acceptance due to family problems –  Chris McCall Dec 8 '11 at 18:14
How about this question, which clearly states the only given answer was correct, yet it was not accepted? –  Gaffi Mar 31 '12 at 3:57
@ChrisMcCall, three years later and the prophecy has come true. –  Adnan Dec 7 '12 at 17:00
I'd be interested to know whether there is any steer on this a few years later. Currently there are 179,500 unanswered questions and I imagine a large number will be ones just left. I find it frustrating when I put in effort to answer a question, the community believes it's right but I miss out on some rep/a badge because a user doesn't care about SO and just wants to solve their problem ASAP. –  Ian Aug 2 '13 at 19:10
@Adnan it's not a prophecy if I specifically will it to happen :) –  Chris McCall Jan 20 '14 at 18:09
I disagree with the first sentence: On SO, the emphasis is on a post, not a user. –  Bleeding Fingers Mar 15 '14 at 17:58

The moderators are in no way product experts. We were chosen to oversee the community and ensure that the users have someone to turn to for assistance. We are only here to deal with disputes and ensure the sites remain civil.

Although most of the moderators know the subject core of their respective sites well, none of them will necessarily know what the right answer is, even if it is voted. Furthermore it adds more work for the moderators to do.

For example. There is currently 33000+ questions without accepted answers on SO, how long will it take the 2 SO moderators to read and accept everyone of these questions?

I don't think this will work.

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I don't agree

Even though there is not an accepted answer, the most voted one will float to the top.

There were a few features added to encourage accepting answers, so I don't think something like this will be implemented (people are going to want to raise that accepted ratio eventually)

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What assurance do we have that the moderator knows the correct answer? If they're just going to select the most upvoted answer, we could automate that answer. That would be just as inaccurate, and save the moderators the work.

Moderators should be there to handle the exceptional, not something so mundane. Think of the work load you'll add.

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Moderators enjoy more trust than the community at large, I feel they'd be qualified to choose the correct answer. As for work load, it's optional, not a responsibility. –  Chris McCall Aug 27 '09 at 21:49
Unless the moderator has the exact same problem as the user who asked the question, they aren't qualified to choose the correct answer. They're just qualified to choose an answer that may be correct. –  Brandon Aug 27 '09 at 21:53
Couldn't we leave it up to their judgment? Wouldn't that be better than the eventual alternative: a very large number of unanswered questions that only increases? –  Chris McCall Aug 27 '09 at 21:58

There are corner cases where this may be a good idea. Maybe the number of times this is true is too small to worry about, but I'll put it out there for others to consider.

For example, this answer:

Android: Failure delivering result ResultInfo{who=null, request=1, result=-1, data=Intent......


Draw the bitmap during SurfaceChanged, using a flag whether to load image.

As of the time of my post, the OP answered his own question and clearly identified that it was the desired solution in text, but they neglected (forgot or due to lack of knowledge) to mark it as the accepted answer. It also could have been someone else's answer and the OP could have indicated its the desired answer in the comments.

[[ In this particular case, the question is new - the OP is still around and may remember to accept the answer at some point, but its not inconceivable that the OP could never be seen again. ]]

I think it would be nice for the community to flag situations like this in older questions, so a mod (or diamond mod) could review these "hanging chads" case-by-case and reflect the user's intent by accepting the answer on the user's behalf. The mods are simply converting a non-standard acceptance of an answer (by the OP stating in text that a given answer was the correct one) to the standard accepted answer format.

Another example:

[SOLVED BY AWN] Mysql group_contact with conditions

The OP retitled the question to: [SOLVED BY AWN] Mysql group_contact with conditions by did not accept the answer (as of the time of this edit). Again, the intent is clear.

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Is the number of times really to small to worry? I vote your question up to suggest that it is not that small. I sometimes search a given tag with hasaccepted:0 to see what problems are not yet solved. And I find the situations you described quite frequent among these "unanswered" questions. If the questions were closed with a reason "self-answered" instead of being accepted it would satisfy me too. –  jarekczek Sep 20 '12 at 8:06

The only thing that annoys me more than no documentation is incorrect documentation.

Since these are Q&A sites we're talking about, if I go searching for an issue and don't find anything then I'll just keep looking or ask the question myself. But if I were to search and find a question on StackOverflow with an accepted answer and plenty of upvotes, and that answer doesn't actually resolve the problem, I wouldn't be pleased. Rather than moving on, most people would now be wondering why a known solution is failing to resolve their problem.

The best way around this would probably be to leave a note saying that the question was forcibly accepted by a moderator, and may or may not work. In which case, what is the point of even marking it as accepted?

As far as your concerns about there being a huge collection of unanswered questions, I'd rather the questions be left unresolved than misleadingly marked as resolved.

The focus should be on encouraging users to resolve their own questions than finding ways to do it for them.

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"In which case, what is the point of even marking it as accepted?" To get it out of the queue of Unanswered Questions, so that actual unanswered questions get the attention they deserve. –  Chris McCall Aug 27 '09 at 22:06
If thats the case, then I'd prefer a new classification be added to the effect of Abandoned questions. Then they won't be incorrectly marked as resolved and they'll clear the way for active questions. –  Brandon Aug 27 '09 at 22:09
*and of course, abandoned questions wouldn't be shown in the unanswered section. –  Brandon Aug 27 '09 at 22:11
I agree. No information is better than bad information. –  Troggy Aug 27 '09 at 22:48

The discussion of someone other than the OP has come up many times, and each time it's been met with general disdain. The prevailing thought is that only the OP should be the one to decide whether or not the answer met the expectations / qualifications and as such should be the sole judge in awarding the acceptance check. The community gets to vote and that is enough.

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