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Is it better to not accept any answer or reply to your own question (maybe stating that the question appears unanswerable) and accept that one?

EDIT: another way to look at this question: is accept rate commonly considered an indicator of the "quality" of questions? If it is so, then answering and accepting your answer is kind of like cheating the system.

Of course you should do your best to make your question as clear as possibile, but sometimes you just don't get what you want maybe because the question didn't raise much interest and slipped over or because it doesn't really have one fully satisfying answer. From another point of view, the questions more easily answered are those of less value (i.e. if the answer is easy you might as well find it yourself) and are probably the most repeated ones.

Well, just a thought about accept rate and those ugly red lines in your profile.

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4 Answers 4

Don't accept an answer which doesn't really answer the question to your satisfaction.

Instead, try editing the question to make it clearer - and also to explain why even the best answers don't satisfy you. Then potentially add comments to the best answers to draw the answerers' attention back to the edited question.

Improving the question is almost always the best way of improving the quality of answers, unless you've really got a question which no-one can answer.

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... in which case he shouldn't have asked it at all –  jmfsg Dec 4 '09 at 20:37
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Love has no accepted answer: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/22795/… –  Troggy Dec 4 '09 at 20:58
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@Juan: What? Why on earth should someone not ask a question that people can't answer? How would they know ahead of time if it was an unanswerable question? –  beska Dec 4 '09 at 22:17

Whatever you feel would suit it best. You are the OP.

If more answers could be out there, then leave it open. Answers do come in over time as the right knowledgable people find them.

If you feel it is really unanswerable or just not possible, you could answer yourself and accept that, but I would just update your question as you get more information and leave it open. Some questions do not get answered because they are asked poorly with little information. Make sure you add as much information and clarity as possible. Not accepting an answer keeps it in the "Unanswered" category and people know right away that an acceptable answer has not been marked yet.

Don't forget about the bounty feature if you want to give more incentive to some people to answer well. It is not a guarantee though.

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I would say that you should not just accept any answer if it doesn't answer your question.

Three suggestions:

  1. Leave it open (someone out there might eventually find it on google)
  2. Edit the question to help clarify (will also move your question onto the homepage)
  3. Offer a bounty (just be sure to accept an answer within the time window or you will be locked from accepting one!)
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But be warned, if you don't accept an answer within the time limit of the bounty you won't be able to accept an answer that comes in afterwards. –  ChrisF Dec 4 '09 at 20:21
    
Good point! Added a comment on that. –  Shane Dec 4 '09 at 20:35
    
So if you offer a bounty you really better hope that you get a good answer, because if not, you're in-a-state-that-I-can't-think-of-a-good-way-to-describe-without-swearing, because an answer will be autoaccepted, and the chances of getting continued answers after that happens are very slim. –  beska Dec 4 '09 at 22:20

Sure you can answer your question yourself, and accept it two days later.

But please don't accept an answer that just says "Gee, this is unanswerable." Unless you are going for the Zen Koan badge, that's just nonsensical. Instead, edit your question to indicate why there don't seem to be any good answers that you can accept. After that, you can either open a bounty, or just leave it be, with your edit to inform future visitors about the lack of an accepted answer.

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