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Should users be discouraged from asking new questions until they’ve accepted a certain % or deleted old unaccepted questions?

There are a surprising number of users on SO who have 0% accept rates. Just today I saw a user who has asked 53 questions and not marked a single one answered! This seems like a huge problem to me, since the system relies on the people asking questions to at least spend a moment or two marking the best answer with a checkbox, which not only improves the quality of the underlying data, but also gives back some love to the answerer for the time they spent helping.

I would like to see a system where users with low accept rates have their questions approved by a "moderator" (i.e. 2000+ rep user). The trigger point for this wouldn't have to be very high, since not all questions have answered, but some sort of criteria should be in place so people asking 53 questions are basically forced into doing their duty.

This would probably be extended to new users as well (with maybe a slightly weaker trigger -- perhaps only after asking N questions), to prevent those checkmark-adverse users from just creating new accounts.

In other words, the desired behaviour (marking questions as answered) is encouraged as it removes the trigger, where undesired behaviour (creating new accounts) would be discouraged as those accounts would also be under the same system.

Alternatively, a simple delay (e.g. inversely proportional to the accept rate for accept rates < 50%), could be used to add time before a question gets posted.

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marked as duplicate by random, Ralph Rickenbach, Diago Dec 14 '09 at 9:44

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3 Answers 3

I do understand the request. This game SO - see Rands in Repose "Gaming the System" - has a certain set of rules that are enforced. Now:

The rules must be inviolable. Enforce rules with an iron fist. A rule not followed is twice as bad as a poorly defined one. A violation of the rules is an affront to a geek. They react violently to violations of the rules because it’s an indication that the system is not working. Rules make a game fair, and when they stop being followed, the geeks stop playing.

It does not seem that not enforcing acceptance makes most geeks quit the game or renders the site useless. I therefore conclude that we should leave the system as is.

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Why not leave it the way it is? If a question's bad, it will get closed, if it's good, it will get edited into shape and answered. The accept rate is irrelevant in the end, the knowledge is important.

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I don't think the system relies on acceptance.

Yes, it works better when people do accept answers, but the answers are still there and judged appropriately by the community without any acceptance. Put it this way: if Stack Overflow didn't have the idea of accepted answers, do you think it would be useless?

I don't want to put any barriers in the way of people who ask good questions but don't accept any answers for whatever reason. We should (and do already) certainly encourage acceptance, but it shouldn't be a requirement or even cause a delay in my view.

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I also see a high correlation between users who have 0% accept rate and those who post the same question over and over again, after the first N get negvoted. To me, that's adding noise, and an indication that something is broken along the line. –  Shaggy Frog Dec 14 '09 at 9:40
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So those duplicate questions should get closed as duplicates... there's no need to prevent/delay people from asking new questions though. –  Jon Skeet Dec 14 '09 at 11:14

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