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I've seen a lot of comments on SO, of the kind (paraphrasing brutally):

  • (on questions) if you start accepting some answers, I might deign to post a reply
  • (on answers) good answer, but perhaps too much effort invested for a user with such a low acceptance rate

(OK, I'm exaggerating horribly - but that is the gist)

Personally I find these a bit abrasive... is it me? Should we discourage this? Ignore it? Encourage it?

I'm keen to get people's thoughts...

I like the idea of the acceptance rate, but I don't like the idea of rubbing people's noses in it...

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closed as too localized by Al E., Hugo Dozois, Rory, animuson, Martijn Pieters May 24 '13 at 23:09

This question is unlikely to help any future visitors; it is only relevant to a small geographic area, a specific moment in time, or an extraordinarily narrow situation that is not generally applicable to the worldwide audience of the internet. For help making this question more broadly applicable, visit the help center.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

    
related - meta.stackexchange.com/questions/20722/… –  warren Sep 24 '09 at 15:43
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A bit related maybe - in this question I'm mainly interested in the behaviour of the commentator, not the question-owner. –  Marc Gravell Sep 24 '09 at 15:46
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Burn them with fire! (Hey, don't look at me, someone had to write this...) –  Ladybug Killer Sep 24 '09 at 16:36
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This problem is getting worse. I see comments like this pretty much every day. Incredibly rude, IMO. –  Jon Skeet Apr 2 '11 at 7:48
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@jon we think this is because we have an influx of very low quality users who don't ever accept answers -- not so much an influx of rudeness. That said, do flag such comments for mod attention. –  Jeff Atwood Apr 2 '11 at 10:52
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@Jon, I agree. I wish the statistic would just be removed. Let the system notify the user directly via an automatic message if the acceptance rate is below some threshold, but do not include it with a question. It's of no significance. –  Anthony Pegram Apr 27 '11 at 14:55
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@Tomas, IMO it isn't. I'd bet that the majority of the people with 0% acceptance rate simple don't know how "things work" on SO (or othe SE sites). Explaining nicely doesn't take much more words than posting a clipped (or even harsh) response. –  Bart Kiers Oct 3 '11 at 6:43
    
Wait, people say "good answer, but perhaps too much effort invested for a user with such a low acceptance rate " ? Are you serious.. if anyone says that it needs BAMHAMMER. RIGHT THERE. –  Adel Mar 27 '12 at 22:12
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Is the fundamental problem non-technical comments or is it rudeness? The question and the top-rated answer do not obviously distinguish the two issues. Should we flag polite, didactic comments that link to "How does accepting an answer work?" since they do not aim to solve the asker's question? If that's true, then any discussion or public enforcement of social norms outside of Meta (including links to the FAQ and relevant Meta posts) should also be flagged as similarly off-topic. If a user does not understand how the accept system works, it is detrimental to SO to leave him ignorant. –  apsillers Jul 3 '12 at 18:43
    
Protecting this because it's still attracting new answers, those new answers aren't really adding anything of substance and there's already more written here than any reasonable person would ever want to read. –  Pops Aug 20 '12 at 20:03
    
Many tech companies use your SO account to judge your technical experience. I see an issue when you spend your time helping users for them to just run off with your code and not accept or upvote your answer. Because of this many users gauge the "acceptance rate" and the time it would take and work invested into said question, on if they want to answer it. –  Bot Aug 20 '12 at 23:25

19 Answers 19

up vote 81 down vote accepted

As has been mentioned over and over again on Meta, in a wide variety of topics relating to 'unethical questions', 'newbie users', 'annoying users', 'leech-like users', 'unwise architecture' and other such questions, the answer has always returned:

Answer the technical question. No one should care who asked it or why.

Anyone who would choose not to answer a question based on someone's acceptance rate is being selfish and anti-community. It is actually against their best interest to be this way, because they lose out on the up-votes they may have acquired.

Flagging a comment might be the best way to go, except that flagged comments are silently deleted, and the commenter will never know that it happened. I think the best we can do is to flag for moderator attention, and have the moderators create a 'form letter' that says some variation of 'don't be a jerk, answer the question.'

On the other hand, for users who don't know about the 'acceptance rate' they will require someone to tell them about it, and even an obnoxious warning might be better than no warning at all.

To sum up:

NO, it is not appropriate to change your behavior because of some user's acceptance rate.

This includes commenting on it.

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I disagree, every contributor to the site, should be allowed to choose for themselves, how and why they wish to contribute; if this means they factor acceptance rate, that is their choice. However, I think commenting on someone's acceptance rate is generally in bad taste, and is often done in very negative terms, which is not acceptable behavior. –  Timothy Carter Sep 24 '09 at 15:57
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Obviously, I can't change why and how people choose to contribute. I'm simply saying that acceptance rate is not an accurate gauge of someone's actual input into the site. The site is designed around the concept of Q & A, so the person who asked the question should be secondary to question itself. –  devinb Sep 24 '09 at 17:08
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I agree with you for the most part here devinb, but ultimately the accept % is SUPPOSED to be an agent to make forgetful / uninformed users go back and accept some answers! If they don't ever feel any negative effect from the low % number, it won't really have much effect. That said, someone else who wants upvote rep is almost always gonna answer, so the individuals decision not to answer still probably won't effect the asker. –  TM. Sep 24 '09 at 22:26
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no one SHOULD change their behavior, but everyone is free to do as they please. :D –  Gordon Gustafson Sep 25 '09 at 0:41
    
I think that good questions should be answered regardless of accept rate, but I would but if a question isn't that good then accept rate would affect whether I would consider answering it –  Casebash May 10 '10 at 5:28
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There is no maximum value to the number of points you can get from an excellently answered question. Of that infinity, only 15 points are related to being "accepted". Granted, most (non Jon Skeet) answers will not reach infinity, however, if you get only two upvotes, then you have already benefited more than the 'accepted check' would do. –  devinb May 10 '10 at 7:22
    
@Timothy: You hit the nail on the head: no one can or should encourage people to answer any specific question, but commenting on a low accept-rate is still in bad taste and should be discouraged. –  Gnome Nov 9 '10 at 16:59
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If it's not OK to change my behavior based on accept rate, why is it shown in the first place? –  Matti Virkkunen Feb 5 '12 at 20:15
    
@TimothyCarter I agree with you that it should be up to the contributor (and it is actually :) to decide if to answer the question or not. I admit that I was doing the same (politely!) since I had the impression that this is the norm. But now, on second thought, I believe that best practice will be to answer the question AND add a comment at the end of the answer with a link such as this one: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/5234/… –  alfasin Feb 17 '12 at 3:18
    
@Gaffi I suspect that the typos you fixed in the first paragraph were intentional. –  Pops Aug 20 '12 at 20:10
    
@PopularDemand Really? I guess I won't disagree, but I didn't feel that much sarcasm (from that point). –  Gaffi Aug 20 '12 at 20:26
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@devinb No matter how you spin it, showing the acceptance rate at all is counter-intuitive to how you defined inappropriate behavior as changing your behavior because of some user's acceptance rate. Seeing the rate at all allows someone to use that information, implying that they should change their behavior. So the decision to show that information was made for some reason. Thus commenting on acceptance rate should be fine as long as the commenter doesn't withhold an answer. –  Lee Louviere Aug 27 '12 at 14:37
    
thanks for telling me about this. upvoted right away. this is killing SE totally lowers the quality of the answers... I have experienced first hand... all my questions get random answer checks just so my accept rate can get higher...there has to be a better way to get people to remember to check answers as answered when they are actually answered correctly. –  Joshua Robison Sep 2 '12 at 15:08
    
Hi, first time Meta poster, long-time SO time investor. I've up-voted this answer because of the statement, "On the other hand, for users who don't know about the 'acceptance rate' they will require someone to tell them about it, and even an obnoxious warning might be better than no warning at all." –  Joshua Nozzi Oct 26 '12 at 15:00
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I don't understand why it is bad to learn new users how SO works. Even more experienced users sometime forget to accept: "Thanks for notifying me I often forget to mark answers most of the time. Thanks for reminders." Moderators are currently deleting all comments that suggest OP to accept an answer or work on their accept rate. –  Tim Schmelter Nov 20 '12 at 7:48

I thought this was the whole point of showing acceptance rates: to publicly shame people who don't accept answers. What other point would we have for showing it?

Now, if someone wants to leave a comment to explain to a newbie that they need to accept some answers or people won't keep answering their questions, then that's good because it's teaching them the type of behavior that is expected from question-askers (since they obviously haven't noticed the mark of shame below their sig).

Of course, if the person leaving the comment is being a real a-hole, then by all means flag it.

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But what if they have an Arthur-head screwdriver? –  random Sep 24 '09 at 16:13
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if (user_reputation < X) and (user_questions_asked < Y) and ( user_answers_given < Z) and (amount_of_time_on_SO <T), what are the values for X,Y,Z,T what is a newbie? –  waffles Sep 24 '09 at 21:44
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@Sam: 42 –  bananakata Sep 25 '09 at 8:14
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Accept rate isn't to shame people, but to allow answerers to concentrate more time on those people who engage more in the site –  Casebash May 10 '10 at 5:32
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But if you concentrate more time on those people who engage more on the site, then you have changed your behavior because of user's acceptance rate, and according to the selected answer, this is not appropriate. No matter how you spin it, showing an acceptance rate at all is counter to the accepted answer's goals. –  Lee Louviere Aug 27 '12 at 14:34
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I think this "rule" is absurd. A moderator just dinged me for not following it. I currently have ~27k rep and several years invested in all answers, no questions (and no separate account for questions - go ahead and audit me). I invest time in this site and I think others asking for help should invest a minimum of "reasonable participation". I believe if you still try and answer the person's question and comment gently about the accept rate, you're doing the right thing for the community. Griping at dedicated users not to help others be good users seems ridiculous to me. –  Joshua Nozzi Oct 26 '12 at 15:03
    
@Xaade Very late comment, but I think it depends on the kind of question. The amount of usefulness to the community plays a big part in this. If I think the question is not about to help too many people then I certainly will take the accept rate into account (and the user profile as well). –  owlstead Mar 10 '13 at 13:36
    
@owlstead sorry it wasn't obvious. I'm trying to unravel both sides of the question. There's a desire to show acceptance rates. There's a desire to not change behavior because of acceptance rates. These are conflicting. My educated guess is that they show the acceptance rates because subconsciously they agree with the nature of man, to avoid work without reward. Thus showing acceptance rates at all is counter to the goal of not affecting behavior. –  Lee Louviere Mar 13 '13 at 19:30

Which would you prefer -- a comment on a question that indicates that you should improve your acceptance rate or risk not getting answers or simply ignoring the question and move on. A civil (we should always be civil, IMO) comment is actually more helpful than just ignoring the OP's behavior. I have and will continue to civilly point out how the OP can be a better SO citizen.

I don't and probably wouldn't comment on answers as I see no point in trying to get other people to conform to how I choose to interact with people who don't accept answers.

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I've seen people telling people with 4 questions that they had a terrible acceptance rate and that they wouldn't be answering... –  perbert Sep 24 '09 at 19:17
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In a case like that I might comment -- so the OP learns how the site works -- but wouldn't avoid answering. The only time I would avoid answering is if it looks like the user is abusing the system -- lots of questions, no or few accepted answers. –  tvanfosson Sep 24 '09 at 19:29
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I suggest that correlation between fast answer and accept rate is current reality. So, polite comment on improving accept rate is an advice, not an offense. It helps to get question answered faster. So, why should I consider it not appropriate? –  confused-demon Dec 5 '11 at 12:55
    
Agreed. A mod griped after seeing an exchange between a new user and I ... an exchange that resulted in the user thanking me for helping him understand the community and a solid, helpful answer to his original question. I think the mod comment was out of line. –  Joshua Nozzi Oct 26 '12 at 15:06
    
@perbert: The behavior you described should invite moderator comment, to be sure. I've been guilty of that myself in the past but I reached the same conclusion you apparently did: it's more useful to at least try answering the question if you're going to bother commenting. Unless of course you have no good answer, then you're still helping by helping a user understand the system. WTH would anyone discourage that? –  Joshua Nozzi Oct 26 '12 at 15:08
    
The point is that the system tells the user. We don't need to add noise to the comments to tell them something the system is already telling them. –  casperOne Dec 5 '12 at 13:45
    
@casperOne Clearly, though, if the acceptance rate is particularly bad the user isn't getting the message. In such cases I choose to believe that they simply don't know better and comment to help them learn. Comments are also a reasonable way to apply peer pressure to conform to expected behavior. –  tvanfosson Dec 5 '12 at 14:54
    
@tvanfosson No, they are not a reasonable way to apply peer pressure (you shouldn't be applying peer pressure period), comments are meant to clarify the post they are attached to. Commenting on accept rate does not clarify the post that it is attached to, and should be deleted, as it is noise. –  casperOne Dec 5 '12 at 15:12

The focus on SO should be on improving questions and answers, not fixing broken people.

Leaving these type of comments, is very abrasive. They are off-topic and in the long run add no value to future googlers. The user already knows they have a low accept rate, they can see it when they look at their question.

I always click on the flag button. I don't think this should be tolerated.

It's not like it will likely change their behaviour.

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@Brad, I edited your answer, hope you like it, if you do not feel free to roll back –  waffles Sep 24 '09 at 21:40
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The statement The user already knows they have a low accept rate is just flat-out wrong. I constantly remind people about their accept rate, and get the replies "how do I do that?", or "ok, fixed". With such a large percentage of questions on SO asked by beginners (to the site), this feedback can be entirely constructive. –  Nate Jan 26 '13 at 10:19
    
You can always delete those kind of comments later on, as I often do. –  owlstead Mar 10 '13 at 13:37

From what I've seen, higher acceptance rates usually go along with users who tend to be more "involved" in their posts after asking the question (reading and responding to responses and comments, providing feedback about what did and didn't work, etc). This is opposed to "drive-by" behavior that goes hand-in-hand with low accept rates -- ask a question, and then (seemingly) never return to it again.

Being "involved" in one's question is useful to both those who post answers (they get feedback as to whether their solution helped or not, or how it could be improved), and to the community at large -- others may have the same problem, come across the question, and avoid pitfalls/learn more from the OP's feedback. Without involvement and response from the OP, a question can sometimes stagnate with no clear resolution (unless the answer is very straightforward).

So, all of that rambling out of the way -- I think the larger issue is increasing user's "involvement" in their own questions. If we can encourage this behavior by encouraging users to have a higher accept rate (with the end goal being more involvement, not necessarily blind acceptance of the top answer), then we should do so.

Thoughts?

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If only I could convince people to be civil about it ;-p –  Marc Gravell Sep 24 '09 at 16:29

I wouldn't comment on the answers. They saw the user had a low acceptance rate and gave an answer anyway. It also adds no value to the site -- the answerer gets notified, not the asker, and they should already know.

As for the questions, I'm all for it (so long as it's civil; sarcasm is fine by me too). I saw one along the lines of "only accepting 19% on your questions -- they all can't be wrong" and it motivated the person to start reviewing his questions. He had asked 90+ questions and I checked at the end of the day his acceptance rate had risen to 44%.

Sometimes people just need a little nudge.

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I'd like to see more people educating askers, e.g. linking to discussion on accepting, but I often see users seemingly scared or frightened into accepting answers merely to improve the displayed number. –  Gnome Nov 9 '10 at 17:03
    
@Gnome: This is unfortunately true. I think we all go through a "protective phase" when we've invested hours over the course of years into an SE site and I hope I've never done to anyone what you described but I agree with Austin's "a little nudge" and raise it by "a civil little nudge." –  Joshua Nozzi Oct 26 '12 at 15:44

I would like my answers to be accepted if/when they're the best.. but I don't feel a need to point out that a given user isn't accepting answers.

Maybe they don't know. Maybe they like more than one equally.

Maybe they don't care.

But commenting on it does seem to be a bit obnoxious, in my book :)

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New users sometimes genuinely don't know about the accept feature, and a "Hey did you know?" can be appropriate. There may be some users who forget to accept answers as well. When you come across a clear case where the user has said something like "Perfect, thanks! I'll accept this once the wait period's up" and not subsequently accepted, a reminder comment may also be appropriate.

The rest of the time you're telling someone who knows about it to accept answers they don't want to accept. There are plenty of valid reasons not to accept -- not yet having a solution despite having an upvoted answer is probably more common for people who ask difficult questions. Those with real, difficult problems shouldn't need to accept answers that aren't solutions.

In summary:

  • Reminders to accept can be useful. I recommend being overly polite and so on.
  • Nagging about the accept rate isn't helpful, because you don't have the right context to know why their accept rate is low. If you do know the context, leave the first type of comment instead.

Personally I hate the fact that the accept rate is displayed. First, I reject the claim some have made here that having a low accept rate displayed is not a form of punishment and shaming. To quote a comment made on another answer:

Accept rate isn't to shame people, but to allow answerers to concentrate more time on those people who engage more in the site – Casebash May 10 '10 at 5:32

The purpose is irrelevant. What are the actual effects?

  1. Users make comments intended to shame those with low accept rates.
  2. Users make polite comments intended to gently remind a user to accept may still cause the user shame. You've probably noticed that people can get awkward when you tell them they've got food in their teeth or something. Now imagine that everyone in the room heard you tell them (equivalent of publicly posting a comment). It would be perfectly natural to be embarrassed in such a situation.
  3. Users who notice or are told that other users refuse to spend time on their questions due to the accept rate are likely to feel rejection and/or shame and/or any number of other negative emotions.

There may be the rare case where a user is genuinely glad to be reminded if they had intended to accept an answer and forgotten. In all other cases, the emotional effect is negative. (You may argue that this is desired, but I am not making any claim about that yet so it's irrelevant.)

Given this negative effect, let's enumerate what it causes in turn:

  1. It discourages people from asking about difficult problems that are less likely to be solved. Stack Exchange is about expertise. Expert questions should be encouraged.
  2. It punishes people who have in fact asked expert questions that haven't yet been adequately answered. Not only with feeling rejected or whatever, but in not getting further answers.
  3. As a result of the previous two, it pushes away experts who want to do more than answer, or want to participate in a site where they and other experts could do more than answer.
  4. It pushes away people who want to participate in a site where people are treated with respect indiscriminately.
  5. It aids and encourages rep whores. Yes, everyone is free to participate as they wish, including playing the rep game. But we should encourage excellent and constructive behavior, not just acceptable behavior. Encouraging people to give all the attention to the easy-rep questions doesn't make this the valuable site for real development issues that we want it to be.
  6. It pushes away new users who weren't aware of the feature until they received a nasty welcome.
  7. Users who see negative comments think they're acceptable.

Now yes, there are users who just come to leech solutions and don't care to accept answers that they should. Should they be punished for having a low accept rate? Some points:

  1. Their questions may still be useful to others if answered.
  2. It's easier to use a throwaway account each time than get engaged in the site; the punishment may be ineffective.
  3. Have you seen how many people continually post crap without learning their lesson, even if their questions go unanswered? Again, the punishment is ineffective.
  4. You'll always have people like me who will answer a decent question if they can regardless of who asked it, why they asked it, or whether they've accepted previous answers. The punishment is ineffective.
  5. If the punishment's ineffective, the only point in executing it is vindictiveness. I don't want to participate in a site that promotes vindictive behavior.
  6. How can it be valid to ignore questions but invalid to ignore answers (not accept them)? This behavior seems inherently hypocritical to me. We don't stamp "ignores questions from low accept rate users" on user cards, why should we be stamping "low accept rate" on user cards either? Questions require effort and have value too, not just answers. Ignoring a question due to an external factor harms the site.

Yes, we should always encourage people to leave polite and constructive comments. But no matter how we encourage good behavior or discourage bad behavior, these comments will always be made if the accept rate is displayed. When it comes to the accept rate, there's a simple and effective option to reduce abuse. Get rid of it. The downsides are prominent and the upside is questionable as to its existence and entirely dubious as to its morality. I certainly feel that the benefits of removing it greatly outweigh the benefits we purportedly get from it.

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"Nagging about the accept rate isn't helpful, because you don't have the right context to know why their accept rate is low. If you do know the context, leave the first type of comment instead." This is a tough thing to learn. I'm quick to jump myself and have been caught out (just today, in fact) in nagging a user who simply didn't know he could accept his own answers to close out a question. But now he knows and expressed gratitude in being guided to good citizenship. –  Joshua Nozzi Oct 26 '12 at 15:47

I find being forced to accept an answer completely conterproductive to the whole concept of SO, and I'm surprised that so few people don't think like this. I have been forced on three occasions to accept answers that do not answer my question purely because they were the only answer submitted. Now anyone viewing those questions may be misled into thinking it is a good answer when it is not.

This causes a number of unproductive behaviours, such as people giving unhelpful answers to questions just because no one else has answered it just to bump up their rep, people avoiding asking questions that may not be answered correctly, and only asking things that they could just have googled.

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You weren't "forced", and IMO you shouldn't accept an answer that didn't help. Who "forced" you and how? –  Marc Gravell Jul 21 '11 at 8:01
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Yes, I agree with you. You should not accept an answer that you didn't actually find useful in solving your problem. And as Marc says, no one can force you to accept answers to your questions. If someone has/does try to bully you into doing this, please feel free to flag those comments for moderator attention. That is quite unacceptable behavior, and I have full confidence that our mods will take care of it. It's one thing to inform users who don't know about the possibility of accepting answers. It's quite another to berate users who do know about it but have chosen not to accept one. –  Cody Gray Jul 21 '11 at 8:31
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I feel I am forced by the fact that my accept rate is displayed, people assume I am just being lazy in not accepting, and refuse to answer my questions. There is plent of evidence of this way of thinking above. –  Paul T Davies Jul 21 '11 at 8:53

I believe that it should be encouraged. Personally I give every answer value because people spend time to answer. Everybody's time is precious.

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I'd still post an answer, even though the op has a low accept rate. It might do somebody some good when he's googling for the solution to the problem he's lost 5 days worth of sleep over. So if not for the (i have to agree, slacking) op, then FTW!

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I think we should inform the user about the accept rate, if he/she is having much lower accept rate. Because if the user is not checking out the correct answer, non of the future user's will get to know what was the exact answer for this particular question. Some user's might think that this question is still unanswered. So, might look for another solution. So, it would be better to let the user know that "You should check the appropriate answer, so that the future user's can get benefit for the same."

Other case is that, if a user is new and he doesn't know about checking an answer, we should inform him about it.

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I got disciplined today for having a low accept rate on SO. It was distracting, useless and irritating, and of course, off topic. I think it's abrasive and doesn't really achieve any purpose, aside from irritating me. When I answer people's questions, I don't even pay attention to their accept rate. If I know the answer, I will post. That's the whole point of the site, right? Lately it seems that SO is there to discipline people.

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Good point gnomixa. Yeah it's just some of us.. hmm we like points. It's like candy. So we're like "hey he's not sharin candy baddyboy!" –  Adel Mar 27 '12 at 22:05

I really find it counterproductive to force users accept answers, even if these answers didn't solve their problem.

Also I find it hard to understand why anybody would make decision whether to answer or not based on acceptance rate. If it's good question, than the answer is not only for the poster, but for anyone who will have same problem in the future. A good answer to such a question will get lot of up-votes. And after all, answer being accepted is worth only as much, as 1½ up-votes.

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You shouldn't actually accept an answer if it didn't help you. Some people might choose to ignore questions from low accept users for various reasons. But without an accepted answer, you don't actually know which answer solved the problem. This would even be a problem for future users. –  JohnP Jun 20 '11 at 16:26

I would argue there is no wrong doing in informing new users on how to show gratitude towards people that take their time to answer their questions, as long as it's done politely. The fact is that some (not to say many) new people on Stack Overflow does not know about the accept rate, or simply does not know how to accept answers. I have seen cases where users have informed the OP about the accept rate, referring to for example How does accept rate work?, and in a few cases the OP commented back something like "Hey, I didn't know that, cheers!". I believe that most people actually likes giving credit back when they receive great help.

Posting a comment on an answer saying it's not worth the effort is an absolute no go for me, no matter if it's done politely or not.

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Well, in a way the accept rate just symbolizes acknowledgement of effort. Bob asks a question, and relies on random strangers to answer. It's appreciated if Bob gives acknowledgement.

And many users seem to not know about it. Here's one where I made a comment, maybe a bit snarkY? Well anyway the guy listened. I'll tell him thanks now since he did it(hey two ways )..

Can we store an object in a file for later retrieval?

I only comment if it's under 30 or 40%. If it's something like 57% it's really fine.

But I'll quit my policing, I can see why it's annoying to admins(I'm no official bobby ).

I would humbly advise though.. that the accept rate be displayed one-step beyond the naked page, i.e, maybe a little Alt-Text on the user-icon or some javascript pop-up, that advanced users can see. Otherwise, it's BAM! in our faces when someone has a 0% accept rate(the color is different so it sort of pops out).

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This may be restating what has already been said here, but I wanted to make my voice heard on this issue since it has always rubbed me the wrong way (and devinb is also spot on with his answer here).

My problem with calling out people with low accept rates (and publicly showing accept rates in general) is that the practice publicly reprimands a user, and is generally done by a non-moderator user. This calls out the "offender" while flat-out stating that if they mark an answer on other questions, others will help them on this one. Why do people feel disinclined to help others, especially when in reality it is not just the OP that the answer (officially marked or otherwise) assists, but the entire community.

So what if the OP didn't mark your answer as THE answer. Others can still vote you up, you still can get reputation that way. The OP likely still was assisted, others viewing the same question are assisted, and, bonus, you likely learned something and grew in the process of answering the question.

I also don't accept the underlying premise that questions without officially marked answers are not useful. Generally speaking, I've noticed that the highest community voted answers on a question are usually the more correct ones anyway, despite what the OP may have indicated.

Finally, I think leaving such comments on questions by low accept rate users is looking to solve things from the wrong angle. Rather than publicly calling them out, these sorts of 'best practices' should be left to the SE system itself (for example, if their accept rate is below X percent, maybe the system gently prompts the user that they are able to mark past questions as answered once they create a new question).

I really thought the point of SO and SE communities were to help others, not to be reputation fiends.

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Completely agreed, and so does the community, by the way. If you see a comment about someone's accept rate that rubs you the wrong way, then flag it. There are some fancy algorithms in place that will probably cause it to be recognized and immediately removed, without even bothering the moderators. (Of course, this is discretionary, requiring someone to actually flag it, because some accept rate comments can be constructive and educational. Just not most.) –  Cody Gray May 9 '12 at 20:46
    
@TheEstablishment It's hard to tell how much the community actually agrees on this, especially when this topic keeps coming up as often as it does (my revitalized interest coming from the WordPress SE site at meta.wordpress.stackexchange.com/questions/1098/… ). While accept rate comments may (rarely) be constructive and educational, they have no business being left on questions when they have no relevance in that context (such comments are more in the realm of a private message, were they to exist). –  William May 9 '12 at 20:58

I think the real problem is that people are not, for reasons discussed elsewhere, accepting answers and there is no mechanism in place to force or even gently remind questioners to go back and accept answers. So people are taking the law into their own hands. I understand, being one myself, how someone with a few hundred reputation points is left wondering why they should continue to participate in stack overflow when their efforts go unrewarded. I get that people should participate for the good of all, but the primary motivation for the folks with 500 reputation points is the gathering of reputation points.

Fix the real problem and the number of acceptance rate comments will drop to almost nothing.

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...the primary motivation for the folks with 500 reputation points is the gathering of reputation points. -- And that's wrong. The primary motivation should be to answer questions with relevant and accurate answers. –  Gaffi Aug 20 '12 at 19:59
    
It may be wrong but that's what it is. Recognize that people feel that way, whether you agree with it or not, and come up with a solution that addresses that motivation. Having you gurus agree that folks should not feel that way in no way changes how they feel. btw... now that I've passed the 1K point I find myself caring less about the reputation points. I suspect that's quite common, too. –  Chris Gerken Aug 20 '12 at 20:03
    
I do like the rep, and I am a bit put off by someone who does not mark answers as correct, but I still answer if I have the expertise. The accept rate is not the only way to get rep, (i.e. up-votes), so I don't think there's a reason to push just for the rep. I do however agree with marking a correct answer so it's easier to identify by a future user passing by, but that's irrelevant in this particular discussion. –  Gaffi Aug 20 '12 at 20:05
    
I can't down-vote this question 'cause I don't have enough reputation here (darn those people who haven't accepted my answers... just kidding :). I suppose my point here is that the comments on acceptance rates are not the problem, although I think most everyone here agrees they're unacceptable, rather those comments are a symptom. The real problem is that there are people who get frustrated with those low rates and have no recourse but to comment. Yes, they can put a sock in it, but we're talking about some folks who are very emotional in the moment. –  Chris Gerken Aug 20 '12 at 20:16

As I am without doubt the worst offender of non acceptance - you will probably disregard what I have to say.

Still here goes:

I am not a developer. I write code for myself for my business. Therefore, I do not spend much time on developer-type activities(no don't even ask) and am not really up-to-speed on what SO expects from.

YES with hindsight I should have sat down and read the posting guide. BUT I am busy on getting things done and I didn't. Sorry.

Whenever I post a question on SO, I get the feeling that a large part of the population on SO are more interested the correct format of my post and are happy to poke fun (sometimes quite bluntly). Well, yes I should be more thoughtful BUT I am looking for help. It would be so much friendlier if I got the help (with the occasional "hey, you know, why not accept the odd answer, it's important to us") rather than the torrent of comments and instant closing of my question. To a lay man like me I don't even know why acceptance is important - I don't check whether the guy answering me has a high rate or reputation - I just look at the answer and test it. I am sure it makes a difference to people on here but I have no-clue why.

Perhaps you don't want non-developers on here. OK, fine, but I do some interesting stuff, and I suspect some of my questions will yield answers of interest to others.

OK, I have put my helmet on, bring on the barrage!

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You don't have time to read the faq, but you do have time to find this question and compose this answer? –  fretje Jun 20 '11 at 12:33
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You're essentially saying that you don't want to (even nominally) thank the person who helped you with your problem. –  JohnP Jun 20 '11 at 12:43
    
Both not true. fretje: I HAVE now read the faq - but as a new user it didn't occur to me you guys would be so strict. I took the time to write this to help others like me that have been at the sharp end of SO comments. JohnP: I thank people prefusely when they help me - if any of them had said "oh by the way, if you like my answer accept it" I surely would, indeed have, done. It just would be nice if SO peoples' first thought would be "this guy is new - give him some leeway" as opposed to the "tons of bricks" response. –  ManInMoon Jun 20 '11 at 13:02
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@ManInMoon actually, if anyone was rude or offensive to you about this issue you should flag their comment. You would be well within your rights. But after you are aware of the 'accept answer' mechanism, you should start accepting answers if they helped you. Am I to understand that 73% of the answers you got on your questions were unhelpful? –  JohnP Jun 20 '11 at 16:23
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JohnP: Well I guess so. I am pretty sure that I have accepted all answers that actually solved my problem. I think many of the "answers" should really be comments. –  ManInMoon Jun 21 '11 at 6:12
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People have been trying to get you to do some basic things to maintain the quality of the site so that it continues to be a good place to get help. And every time you politely acknowledge them and proceed to completely ignore their helpful pointers. Most of us have used sites that had no standards and found them virtually worthless. That's why we're willing to help moderate SO. –  Brad Mace Jun 21 '11 at 12:35
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you are looking not for help, but using people. We are all busy, but someone do something for others and someone else just do his own business and has no time to say thanks. –  confused-demon Dec 5 '11 at 13:02

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