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It seems that sometimes questions get asked, and some very nice answers are given (sometimes with quite some effort on the part of the answerers).

However, the asking party sometimes forgets to accept an answer (happens especially with newbie users (<100 reputation points)).

Can't we have something for questions which have no life in them anymore, such that after X days, an answer is auto-accepted (and rep points given to the top answer)?

EDIT: changed the close to accept, since this what I meant.

Additional thoughts when reading the comments:

Still it seems 'unfair' that good answers don't get the nice green check mark they deserve just because the OP forgets about the question. We might have then some reminder thingy where the OP is reminded after X days of nothing happening with his question that an answer has not yet been accepted.

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You mean doing something like the "highest voted answer autoaccept" of bounty questions for newbies' questions? –  perbert Sep 9 '09 at 18:23
    
Do you mean close or accept? –  user27414 Sep 9 '09 at 18:23
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I imagine he is talking about Accepting answers. It is likely he thinks of this as "closing a ticket" in the support world. –  TheTXI Sep 9 '09 at 18:26

6 Answers 6

Accepting an answer is the OP's way of declaring to the world that the solution worked. Having the most upvotes will not force an answer to work (if only it did!).

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true...but in a lot of cases they question asker just forgets about it, and moves on. They just don't know about the fact they can use the checkmark to say 'great, this is it!'. Some mechanism to remind them of questions with no activity anymore might be something worth considering –  Toad Sep 9 '09 at 18:33
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@providerreini: There is no way to tell the difference, and this application cannot ASSUME that one of the answers was right just because it got upvoted. –  devinb Sep 9 '09 at 18:37
    
@devinb: You said it much more succinctly than I have. The system can't tell a good answer from a bad answer. Only a popular answer from an unpopular one. There is a big distinction there. 100 people may think a question is good, but if it doesn't work, it shouldn't be accepted. –  TheTXI Sep 9 '09 at 18:39
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Couldn't moderators be given the ability to "force an answer" or vote for an appropriate answer and auto accept the top one (like a meta vote)? An example of a post I answered today (that I'm sure will not be accepted as an answer): stackoverflow.com/questions/3258176/as3-array-question/… –  Andir Jul 15 '10 at 18:07
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What about a case where the OP only came to the site to get their question answered. Where he/she says thanks and that your solution worked in a comment without upvoting or accepting your solution - and then leaves the site? see stackoverflow.com/questions/12820842/… –  Rob Hardy Oct 23 '12 at 14:01
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I googled to see if there was an auto-accept and came across this answer. I find it extremely ironic that it has not been accepted. –  Corion May 15 '13 at 20:27
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Answers not marked as resolved after a certain amount of time should definitively automatically get marked as resolved by the answer with the most up votes and an ability for moderators to review that should also be given if needed where for approval the community should vote on the change made by the moderator like we have for closing or reopening a question unless a certain of approval is given that automatically selected answer is not changed. If a question has no answers with a upvote it should get closed instead. –  Prix Sep 3 '13 at 6:03
    
@Corion: Also, Toad has been inactive since october 2010 :D . Seriously though, I disagree with this answer: "Having the most upvotes" is a good indication that the solution worked for lots of people in a similar situation to the OP. That's all that really matters, if the OP has abandoned the question. Who cares if it's not exactly what they want, down to the finest detail, if they don't even care about the answer enough to accept it? Clearly the only remaining useful purpose to the Q&A is to the rest of the people still visiting the question. –  naught101 Apr 29 at 2:17

I spend a lot of my time in tags that see a large amount of new users (iphone and mac related tags), and a lot of them don't know about accepting answers. I think a way of auto-accepting answers could be really beneficial to teach them about it, but also to reward those who spend their time answering their questions. However, I agree with what has been said about "the highest voted answer isn't necessarily the correct answer". So in that case, what about something like:

If a question:

  • hasn't had any activity in 5 days (or some other arbitrary time interval)
  • the highest voted answer has at least twice as many votes as any other answer (or some other arbitrary multiplier)

Then:

  • Automatically accept the highest voted answer, but with reduced points (maybe 5?)
  • Visually indicate that the answer is auto-accepted instead of user-accepted (maybe overlay an "auto" label over the green checkmark?)
  • Notify the questioner via the alert bar that their question has an auto-accepted answer that they should confirm (by going to the question and clicking a "confirm answer" button or clicking the checkmark or something)
    • If it gets confirmed, the answerer gets the balance of the rep points (the other 10, for the full 15 points)
    • If the user doesn't confirm it, the answerer keeps his 5 points
    • If the user rejects it, the answerer loses the 5 points, and the question remains without an accepted answer (and is no longer eligible for an auto-accepted answer). At this point, the user must manually choose an answer to accept it.
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I really like this solution. It will help clean up a lot of the "Community Bump" questions from showing up that have been abandoned. I think a lot longer time span would be better to wait (I think a month would be a good indicator that nothing new will be comming) but everything else is perfect. –  Scott Chamberlain Sep 16 '12 at 6:18
    
If the user rejects it, the answerer loses the 5 points, and the question remains without an accepted answer (and is no longer eligible for an auto-accepted answer). At this point, the user must manually choose an answer to accept it. This part needs to change to something like he needs to choose one of the available answers or select close, it is better to have it either marked as solved or closed as by the amount of time that has passed he should have been able to make a bounty out of it as well as awarding it to some one so it would stay open for at least a month in between I believe. –  Prix Sep 3 '13 at 6:10

While I agree that the preponderance of questions with correct answers that never get accepted is a significant downside, auto-accepting an answer is probably not the best idea. For example, if someone answers a question and can get enough people to vote for their answer, they can force it to be accepted. For wrong answers, this is obviously problematic.

Perhaps something like suggested edits, or allowing 10K+ rep users to vote to accept a given answer?

One problem with leaving it up to the OP is that there are quite a few askers who seem to no longer frequent SO, which means that no amount of reminders, prompting, prodding, or badgering will help. If the fact that an answer is accepted is sufficiently valuable and improves the community, it would be wise to provide a way to increase the acceptance rate, both for questions from SO noobs and those which have been "abandoned" by the OP.

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You are talking about two different things, Accepting an Answer and closing a question.

Closing the question is if it is a duplicate or does not fall within the guidelines of the site it is posted on.

Accepting Answers is when the OP decides that a given answer solves the particular problem (or at least that what it should be).

I do not agree with automatically giving accepted answers after a set period (I'm not even a big fan of it on bounties). The OP should remain in charge of the check mark. Keeping it open indefinitely is not a problem and it will allow for more answers to continue to filter in and eventually the best answers will go to the top regardless of whether they get checked or not.

It should also be noted that the check mark is only worth 15 points, so two upvotes alone already is better than a check (unless you count the fact that check marks can count even after hitting your daily rep limit).

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still, the nice green checkmark is a nice way of saying: thank you for your help, this is what I needed. A lot of newbies just forget about their questions (even though it's solved for them by someone) and forget to close it wrongly leaving the debate still open if the answer was indeed correct. –  Toad Sep 9 '09 at 18:30
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That's nice and all, but the more you try and mechanize the whole thing, the less you take into account the human aspect of it all, helping other users. You shouldn't put too much weight down on those checkmarks, because you are going to get rewarded a lot more as time goes along when more and more users find the same question and upvote things that they come across. The checkmark is only a small signifier of you helping that individual user at the time. –  TheTXI Sep 9 '09 at 18:34

One thing I'm seeing is the questioner upvoting the answer, but not marking it as correct.

Could the upvote procedure be changed to ask the questioner if they want to also mark the answer as correct? This could always be turned off for a user once they have either accepted a certain number of answers, or else reached a certain level of reputation.

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There are many questions that do not have satisfying answers for the OP, even though answers are upvoted by the community. Accepting is totally up to the OP, as it is a means to reward the answerer. Doing this automatically would actually be missleading as it would look as if the OP awarded the points, thinks that his problem is solved, and therefore late answers after some time would be discouraged. The OPs accept rate would be flawed as well. Would the OP be able to unaccept the answer, and accept an other one? Or leave it with no accepted answer to start the game again?

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ok agree...but lets add some mechanism for them to remember to close it and not to forget about it –  Toad Sep 9 '09 at 18:31
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There is already a mechanism in place that will alert a user on their profile page of questions that have not been accepted, but I don't like the idea of the system emailing a user without permission saying "Hey, you forgot about this stuff" –  TheTXI Sep 9 '09 at 18:34

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