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I have noticed that some questions get a lot of responses quickly, and the cool fact is that most of the time these initial responses are correct.

I see users are motivated to accept answers. Because many questions take less than 24h to get an acceptable response, I'm unsure what to do when I have a question that takes more than 24h to get a response that I feel is complete enough to warrant being marked as accepted.

And even for acceptable responses, I often hesitate to accept them out of concern that posters will pass my question by if it already has an accepted answer (unless it has lots of upvotes). Does this really deter the higher-quality posters, though?

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migrated from stackoverflow.com Nov 4 '09 at 11:52

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11 Answers 11

I accept an answer as soon as I see one that I feel does a reasonable job of answering my question. Often that takes 2-10 minutes. Sometimes it's days. There are even a couple questions I've asked where I still don't have a satisfactory answer, either because I didn't phrase my question well, or because nobody else really had the answer either, or even occasionally just because the question was overlooked for some reason.

If I go ahead and accept an earlier answer I will then always come back later and switch the accepted answer to different answer if one comes along that I like even better because it does a better or more complete job of explaining the answer to my problem.

Also see this question in regards to your second paragraph for some info about how to get additional responses to older questions.

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I will admit that I don't accept answers very quickly because I feel like people won't contribute if they see an answer is accepted. Fewer contributions means fewer thoughts/ideas/answers, and those answers are the real value in this site.

I tend to wait until I feel like my question's lifecycle has ended, and then I accept an answer. There's no hard-and-fast rule for how long that is; some questions 'end' sooner than others.

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I think if is a good pratice determine a minimum time, lets say... 30min to accept the first answer? –  Click Ok Jan 9 '09 at 21:56
    
If I don't like an existing question, or have important information that is not present, I'll add answers to questions that already have an accepted answer. If it's something minor, I'll just edit the accepted answer –  Juan Mendes Jan 8 '13 at 6:37

Just mark the correct answer that solves your problem as the solution. Votes take care of anything else.

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When you get an answer that solves your problem, mark it answered. If someone does a better job later, switch. Sometimes the quick one-line answer really is all the information you need. If no one gives an answer that actually works as a solution, resist the temptation to accept the best one so far - this will let others know that the question may still need a solution.

Now that you can mark your own answer as accepted, if you manage to find a solution on your own, you can write your own answer and mark it as the answer.

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I vote up answers that are helpful as soon as I read them and I'm satisfied with them. I wait at least a full day before marking one 'accepted' just in case a really brilliant answer comes in.

I think you can reverse your votes and accepted answer only for a while, but if you leave it too long then they become unchangeable.

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Re part 2: That doesn't sound right. Maybe the points should stick but I/you should always be able to change it. Hmmm. –  BCS Jan 9 '09 at 21:41
    
"I wait at least a full day before marking one 'accepted' just in case a really brilliant answer comes in" ----> It's what is in my mind! –  Click Ok Jan 9 '09 at 21:45

I see a lot of questions with accepted answers that are inferior to answers posted after them, or which are even incorrect, just early enough and convincing-sounding.

You should probably wait until you have actually implemented the suggestion in the response and verified that it works for you.

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It depends

When the question is about some trivial, but annoyingly hard to find-out issue, like centering the items in some poorly documented UI framework, I will accept as soon as I get the answer fixing the problem.

If the problem is more general, for example speeding up some operation, or finding out the simplest / the most clear way of doing something, even if I get good answer, there can be always a better one, so I will wait. Depending on activity, from a few hours, to maybe a few days.

If the question is more open, or with a matter harder to proof and inspect, which is mostly the case on sites other that SE, I'd like to wait with accepting an answer for much longer period of time, in some cases even weeks. For example, where some legal or financial issues are involved, even if I think I have a perfect answer, after a few times someone may write something much more helpful and explanatory. I'd like to give a signal, this answer is very good but I'd like to wait a few days more for something possibly better.

Of course, if no answer satisfies me, I will wait for another answer and I will not accept.

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To add to that, you can always change the correct answer if you realize a better one has been presented. The only thing marking an answer correct does is stop the drive by answers (like this one :).

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I feel bad about taking away the accepted answer from someone though. Once I accept an answer, I hardly every switch it. –  Kyle Cronin Jan 9 '09 at 21:36

If the answer gives you the info you are looking for, it's not to soon. You can always change it later if a better answer comes along.

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I actively upvote helpful answers, but try to wait until around 24 hours have passed before accepting.

  1. If I'm asking a question, I don't know what the best answer will be.
  2. I don't want to change the accepted answer after I've accepted it. I think it's mildly unfair.
  3. I want to give people in other timezones a chance to answer.

When I'm answering questions I take significantly less interest in questions that already have an accepted answer (unless I think that answer is seriously flawed). So when I'm in the position of the asker, I don't want potential answerers to bypass my question because I accepted a satisficing, but suboptimal answer.

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How long should I wait before accepting an answer?

If you are satisfied there is no reason to wait at all.

I asked this question, and had the acceptable answer in 38 minutes.

There it was a case of me not knowing what to Google, and the answerer knowing the answer :)

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This answer doesn't add much that wasn't in the question, IMO. –  michaelb958 Mar 28 at 6:24
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@michaelb958 - the question (now 4+ years old) asked "how long should I wait": and I gave an example that should have been obvious to anyone was a case of 'accept as soon as you have the right answer' –  warren Mar 28 at 14:06
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@warren I've edited your answer in response to flags suggesting it might not answer the question. It does answer the question, but I've made that more explicit with my edit. Please edit and adjust or revert if you feel it doesn't reflect your answer correctly. –  Adam Davis Mar 28 at 16:32
    
@warren then problem is it wasn't "obvious" what you meant. Not everyone who visits this site will understand, so you should try to be specific. Now that you have clarified (and thanks to Adam's edit), I think you have answered the question. –  psubsee2003 Mar 28 at 22:19
    
@psubsee2003 - and yet it sat here for a couple years with no one thinking it was "bad" :) –  warren Mar 30 at 16:30
    
@AdamDavis - thanks for the improvement –  warren Mar 30 at 16:32

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