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While it's worse when the author of the answer bugs the OP to accept their answer (for whatever reason - maybe they don't now there's a waiting period, maybe they don't know the asker knows how to accept, maybe they just want to fish for rep), I'm also finding many scenarios where other people are badgering users to accept someone's answer. This in spite of the fact that we long ago agreed to Let's stop displaying a user's accept rate for this exact kind of reason (well, more the nonsense about, "I will not answer your question until you improve your accept rate." - but this is equally obnoxious to me).

Today this happened on a very simple question where, after 11 minutes, a user badgered the OP to accept someone else's answer, and they did, even though the answer turned out to be wrong. The comments have been cleaned up so you'll only be able to see them if you're a moderator, in which case you'll need to check the revision history here.

Here is another example, where Martin's answer is clearly superior, but the OP was pressured into accepting the first answer as soon as he was allowed to (and before any problems with the answer could have been pointed out). This is why I don't like the 15-minute limit or the behavior of pressuring users into accepting answers. If they want to accept at 15 minutes, that's fine, but they shouldn't feel the need to do so. If they want to wait an hour or a week or a year before accepting an answer, they shouldn't feel pressure to do otherwise.

I've flagged many such comments as Not Constructive, and as far as I can tell most have been deemed helpful and deleted (but many of these were before we had any visibility into comment flags like we do today). So it is tough to come up with a lot of examples for regular users to see, because for most of the examples I've come across, the evidence is simply gone.

While I agree that in some cases brand new users aren't familiar with the site enough to know to accept, this is a very small minority of the cases I see. And I see no reason to encourage badgering for an accept when a question is 15 minutes old - why does the user have to accept an answer so early? Often better answers will come along later. I'm well aware of Jeff's reasons for the 15-minute limit, but I'm not convinced that it should be implemented the way he decided 3 years ago, and is worth revisiting.

So my reason for the post is two-fold, and is just aimed at generating some discussion:

  1. Do you think we should revisit the 15-minute accept limit?

  2. In lieu of that, should we be more strongly discouraging "early" badgering of a user to accept an answer as soon as it is technically possible for them to do so?

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How about just flagging badgers? Hammer them with "not constructive" flags. There is no point to such comments. –  Bart Aug 3 '13 at 15:02
There's also the people who badger for accepts without realizing that there's a waiting period at all, and/or that the askers know well enough how to accept an answer that simply don't need to be reminded. –  BoltClock's a Unicorn Aug 3 '13 at 15:03
@Bart well, I have been, but I have little ability to gauge how successful that is. Have the comments been removed? I don't know, I could go through my flagging history, but only recently have I been able to actually see what comments I've flagged. Have the individual users I've flagged even noticed that their comments have been removed? Unlikely. Have they stopped doing it? Also unlikely, but no way to be sure unless I somehow favorite every user I flag and then track their activity. –  Aaron Bertrand Aug 3 '13 at 15:04
If you are from the University of Wisconsin Police, where's your Badger? –  Rosinante Aug 3 '13 at 15:07
yeahhh there seems to be a rush –  ledino Aug 3 '13 at 23:57

3 Answers 3

That example is a very small and mild badger. A wittle baby badger. A mere suggestion. A reminder, to a new user, that there's such a thing as acceptance. I wouldn't even flag it, let along suggest policy changes in reaction to it.

It's nothing like 'crank up your accept rate, buddy, or we'll just say Ni!'

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Yes. The user "badgered" had a rep of 1, and had replied after the question was answered as if the question were not answered. All of this is a legitimate basis for thinking a user might need help, and wanting to guard against the question being abandoned like so many others on the site. –  A.M. Aug 3 '13 at 16:11
The fact that the questioner added an extra question to the question after it had been answered in its original incarnation just proves it. –  A.M. Aug 3 '13 at 16:12
@A.M. Come on, as I said above, this question wasn't the greatest to begin with, it was just a recent example where badgering led to the acceptance of a wrong answer. Can we please discuss this more generally, instead of treating my question like I am moaning about this one specific incident? If I have to round up a dozen examples to stop this, I will, but that shouldn't be necessary. –  Aaron Bertrand Aug 3 '13 at 16:18
@A.M. Also accepting a bad or inferior answer actually has a better chance of the question being abandoned - after all, how many questions do you bother looking at - never mind answering - when they already have an accepted answer? –  Aaron Bertrand Aug 3 '13 at 16:19
The "badgering" took place when the question was the right answer. "Thank you ic3b3rg for your answer as that did what I had actually written. I need it to also choose the highest for each distinct type."...and then a question change. –  A.M. Aug 3 '13 at 16:20
@A.M. the end result was the same - the user didn't have to accept the answer, once they realized they didn't ask the question correctly, but did due to the pressure. They clearly stated they wanted an answer to the question they meant to ask, rather than the one they did ask. –  Aaron Bertrand Aug 3 '13 at 16:22
The end result is that now it looks like there was badgering to accept a wrong answer, which just wasn't the case. I don't disagree that the general issue of too much pressure for accepting answers could be there, but maybe just one different example in your question would be good. ;) I just feel like it's unfair to ic3b3rg and Higune for this question to be the poster child. –  A.M. Aug 3 '13 at 16:25
@A.M. yes, even though I have repeatedly suggested you think about this more abstractly, I'll come up with another example, even though I think this example serves just fine (ignoring the timeline). My problem isn't that there is a whole lot of badgering to accept the wrong answer - it's that there's badgering to accept answers at all (since the badgers won't always know that they're pushing the OP to accept an inferior answer, and aren't giving a chance for better answers to come along, which would help the OP and other readers). –  Aaron Bertrand Aug 3 '13 at 16:42
@A.M. here is another example, where Martin's answer is clearly superior, but the OP was pressured into accepting the first answer as soon as he was allowed to. The problem with finding examples is that I've flagged a lot of those comments without ever challenging the user, so it's difficult to find posts when most/all of the related comment threads have been cleaned up (as has happened in the example above). –  Aaron Bertrand Aug 3 '13 at 17:09
I really don't want to pick nits, because I actually agree that what you mentioned could be a problem, but the most-upvoted and accepted answers on Meta about encouraging accepting answers generally agree that it is OK once the questioner has commented "Thank you. That worked.", and that is exactly what happened in that example. Also...I have to say it's hilarious that the only other question that questioner went on to post has no answer but is titled "Solved: Image doesn't show up like it should". –  A.M. Aug 3 '13 at 17:21
@A.M. you're just going to have to take my word for it then that this does happen quite often, and most of the time when I've seen it, the comment thread ends up getting cleaned up, because I've often flagged it. If it ends up being the case that I'll just need to continue to flag it, fine. –  Aaron Bertrand Aug 3 '13 at 17:34

I agree that badgering of any kind is bad. If you see this kind of thing going on in the comments at a time or in a manner which you feel is inappropriate, then you can flag it.

But otherwise, I don't think we need to change the system to make accepting answers any more difficult or unlikely. There are plenty of limitations on it already, and it's not like the first answer you accept is locked in forever. In the scenario you point out here, the person accepted an answer that turned out to be wrong. Okay, so, what's the big deal? They can remove the checkmark and have no accepted answer. Or accept a different answer that is corect.

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The way I see it, it's already difficult enough to learn how to accept answers that it would appear to many (new) users as a permanent mark. –  BoltClock's a Unicorn Aug 3 '13 at 15:12
My issue is that (a) the answer is still marked as accepted, an hour after the OP acknowledged it was wrong, and (b) we can't do anything about the checkmark - until the OP actually takes it away, this answer looks to others like the right answer, too. And this happens often when there is no response from the OP at all, and only other users have tried to point out that the accepted answer is actually wrong. It's not always as clear cut as this case and sometimes the OP never comes back to change the checkmark (especially since they were badgered to add it in the first place). –  Aaron Bertrand Aug 3 '13 at 15:12
I will never understand how clicking on a checkmark is difficult to learn. If a bad/wrong answer gets accepted, then the community can downvote it. We already have a system in place to solve that problem. Who cares if the asker accepted it? Obviously they thought it was useful. They don't have to listen to the badgering. Heck, the site would be a lot better if new users did start listening to some of our helpful advice. –  Cody Gray Aug 3 '13 at 15:15
In this case, the answerer got an accept (because the OP was told to accept it), a down-vote (because it's wrong), and a (probably pity) up-vote a few minutes ago. To most users in the community, many of whom won't look at the comments and many of whom can't retrieve the +/- scores even they thought it was worth retrieving, it looks like the answer is correct and the OP chose to accept it but not up-vote it. And now that the question has an accepted "answer," it's unlikely to get much more attention from the community. –  Aaron Bertrand Aug 3 '13 at 15:18
@Cody Gray: I guess it's similar to how people keep mistaking Meta Stack Overflow for the main site. –  BoltClock's a Unicorn Aug 3 '13 at 15:22
This is an incident though @AaronBertrand. Or is it really part of a larger issue as the whole accept rate debacle was? I have to say that I'm unaware of many similar comments on posts I visit. Which leads me to think that it's not something that needs more effort or tools than currently at our disposal. P.s. this answer is correct, could you please accept it? (Come on, you know I had to...) –  Bart Aug 3 '13 at 15:22
@Bart: FLAGGED –  BoltClock's a Unicorn Aug 3 '13 at 15:24
@Bart right, I wasn't necessarily advocating more effort or more tools. Just trying to raise a discussion. It is certainly not as prevalent as the accept rate thing, but it's still something I see often enough to justify at least that much. –  Aaron Bertrand Aug 3 '13 at 15:25
@AaronBertrand Fair enough. –  Bart Aug 3 '13 at 15:26
I don't know. This all seems like an awful lot of hand-wringing over someone being wrong on the Internet. I don't really think new users are that vulnerable to being suckered into accepting answers that are completely unhelpful to them. And if it's wrong, like you say it is, then it's pretty easy for them to tell whether or not it is helpful. –  Cody Gray Aug 3 '13 at 15:27
While this is only a small part of the Internet, shouldn't we be trying to make sure that accepted answers on our network are not wrong? That seems more like the M.O. of some of the forum sites. If you don't feel it is worth doing anything about, you don't have to do anything. I personally don't feel that we should be encouraging people to badger users into accepting answers early because this is exactly what happens. –  Aaron Bertrand Aug 3 '13 at 15:35

On the site I moderate I regularly suggest waiting 24-hours to Accept an answer to those who Accept prematurely. I do this most often when it is my own answer that is Accepted.

I believe that if high profile users on your site make a habit of this it will set a precedent that will encourage people ignore demands to rush an Accept.

Incidentally I sometimes also, after some weeks, ask a user who has not Accepted an answer if he is dissatisfied with the existing ones. If so, how, and if not, to please Accept one. I feel this is reasonable, not badgering. Most of the time people Accept an answer; sometimes I learn that they are in fact dissatisfied and I try to provide a better answer or get someone who can to give it a look.

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I think what you describe in your final paragraph is ok when it is coming from a moderator, but it seems a little more dubious and greedy when it's coming from the answerer. –  Aaron Bertrand Aug 3 '13 at 19:43
You're probably right about high profile users setting an example, however on a site the size of SO, some of the high profile users can be part of the problem. –  Aaron Bertrand Aug 3 '13 at 19:47
@Aaron Perhaps it is; I'm really not sure. Being honest most of the time I ask about Accepts it is on a question I myself answered, because that's why I'm looking at it. Maybe that paragraph doesn't belong in this answer, but I wanted to point out that IMHO it's not always wrong to inquire about lack of Accepts; I think if one is asking truthfully ready to improve an answer that is dissatisfying, weeks after the question was asked, it's not a bad thing. –  Mr.Wizard Aug 3 '13 at 19:48
Well I think there's a big difference between the wording that never happens on SO as far as I can tell, "I noticed you haven't accepted any answer, are there any quality problems with the answers you have received so far?", and the wording that almost always appears (and almost always from the answerer), "If you found it helpful, accept it." I get what you're suggesting, it just doesn't happen in practice. –  Aaron Bertrand Aug 3 '13 at 19:50
@Aaron Re: high profile users; Yes I suppose they can, but ultimately aren't these users largely responsible for how things play out? I contend that winning the support of the high profile users is the best way to influence the common practice on the site. –  Mr.Wizard Aug 3 '13 at 19:51
Well, I'm not talking about high profile users who have any interest whatsoever in listening to what other people have to say - they are who they are and that's who they'll always be. And no, I'm not going to name names. :-) –  Aaron Bertrand Aug 3 '13 at 19:52
@Aaron At least speaking for myself, I think new users will pay a lot of attention to a 82K-rep giant such as you if you make these comments. I feel you are in a position to lead by example. Contact other high profile users in chat, comments, etc., and encourage them to join you. Maybe even run in the next election and try to get a diamond beside your name. :-) –  Mr.Wizard Aug 3 '13 at 19:54
@Aaron I keep answering one comment too late. Ah well, as I've said before I know StackOverflow isn't as pleasant these days as some of the smaller SE sites; I am glad for the community I'm a part of on Mathematica. –  Mr.Wizard Aug 3 '13 at 19:55
Agreed 100%. I'm quite happy to be a moderator on dba.SE but do not envy the SO mods (and have no interest in joining them). –  Aaron Bertrand Aug 3 '13 at 20:09

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