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There's quite a number of consistent offenders that cannot bring themselves to marking answers as accepted.

I personally always comment on that and do NOT answer the question, regardless how trivial it is.

The reason why these users don't change their ways is because to some SO'ers, rep is everything, so clearly, just displaying the accept rate is not working.

There really should be a mechanism where if you have lower than say 5% accept rate for x amount of questions over y amount of time, there is some kind of associated 'punishment'.

Few options:

  • You cannot post a question, until your accept rate improves above the set threshold.
  • Question can be posted, but no one can supply an answer yet until accept rate improves.
  • Question can only be answered by SO'ers with say < 300 rep, so these new comers get an additional benefit to catch-up on some rep.

Does anyone have any other ideas on this?

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Downvote on meta means that they don't agree with some or all of your question. –  George Stocker Jan 8 '10 at 16:14
Well, it would be nice to know what bit. The tooltip for downvoting a question does say 'This question is unclear or unhelpful'. Is it really!? –  Wim Hollebrandse Jan 8 '10 at 16:22
@Wim Hollebrandse: I'm made of matter, if that's what you're asking. –  XMLbog Jan 8 '10 at 16:24
Well, anyway, that's definitely the first and last feature request I'll be posting on meta. You guys are like a bunch of blood hounds. What a waste of time. –  Wim Hollebrandse Jan 8 '10 at 16:26
@Wim: Gaspar/Welbog is not meant to be taken literally on Meta. On SO he's generally reliable, but here he aims more for comedic effect (often including hyperbole). –  mmyers Jan 8 '10 at 19:19
The OP is perfectly right to choose to not answer some questions in order to send a message to the user. We may disagree, but he's free to express his opinion in that way or in any other (civil) way. –  Ether Jan 8 '10 at 19:23
@Either: Yeah, but his opinion is wrong! @MrsMey: I take offense to you calling me generally reliable! I am indisputably reliable! –  XMLbog Jan 8 '10 at 19:26
See? That's exactly what I'm talking about. –  mmyers Jan 8 '10 at 19:35
@Æther: OP is absolutely in his right to express his opinion. As are we with the downvotes. Always judge a question by its content, not its poster. Answering, voting, etc., are not required actions by Trilogy users. They're just recommended. –  John Rudy Jan 9 '10 at 0:27
I think this is a perfectly valid question. Don't understand the downvotes. –  agarcian Feb 16 '12 at 9:34
It is repeated many times that SO is not about rates/rep/whatever, but questions and answers. There should be no punishment for any metagame, only for bad questions and bad answers. –  Oleg V. Volkov Jun 20 '12 at 20:24

5 Answers 5

up vote 4 down vote accepted

When you find a question that has been asked by a user with a 0% accept rate, post the following comment to his question:

Consider accepting answers on some of your questions. You can do this by clicking the checkmark next to the correct answer in each question.

This clarifies:

  1. The community generally expects this kind of involvement,
  2. How to do it for new users.
share|improve this answer
FYI: I will flag every comment of this nature that I see. –  XMLbog Jan 8 '10 at 16:41
Really? Why is this a bad idea? –  Robert Harvey Jan 8 '10 at 16:47
@Robert Harvey: Because I hate them. –  XMLbog Jan 8 '10 at 16:47
Mmm, that's not really an explanation is it now? –  Robert Harvey Jan 8 '10 at 16:48
There's nothing wrong with gently prodding users to be well-behaved. I've seen comments posted to questions with 0% accept that are MUCH harsher than this. –  Robert Harvey Jan 8 '10 at 16:50
It's not nothing to do with harshness. It's got nothing to do with the question the comment is posting in, and it doesn't matter that the guy doesn't accept "enough" answers. Stop trying to force people to do things they don't want to do, man. –  XMLbog Jan 8 '10 at 16:50
Well, I only post the comment for users with 0% accept rate. In many cases the user has posted a reply stating that they weren't aware they could accept answers (or that accepting answers is good manners) and thanked me for the suggestion. So I wouldn't say that I am greatly offending anyone. –  Robert Harvey Jan 8 '10 at 16:55

I think you're taking this way too personally, and the idea of restricting those who can ask questions goes against everything these sites were set up for.

But anyways, let me answer your question with some questions. Is it possible that:

  • A user legitimately doesn't know how to use the rep system?
  • A user legitimately doesn't care about the rep system?
  • Even with an accept rate of 0%, the user is still providing value to the community?
share|improve this answer
Yes, your first point does make sense, and if that is the case, this needs to be clearer and newcomers need to be educated/informed in using it. With regards to your second point, then IMO an enforcement like this would be ideal. 3rd point, asking questions and getting answers means these users get something out of the community but by not marking as accepted they are not giving back to the community what it deserves. Give and take, karma, universal balance and all that. –  Wim Hollebrandse Jan 8 '10 at 16:21
Merely asking an interesting question provides value to the community. –  Jon Seigel Jan 8 '10 at 16:35

I flagged Gaspar's "you are a bad person and you should feel bad" comment as offensive (there's no call for that). But I do agree w/those saying that the downvotes are mostly indicative that you're not enjoying the Q&A for its own sake. If you're worrying too much about "points" and "punishment" then it's just not going to be a good experience for you or anyone else.

Remember that these questions aren't just serving the people who ask them. They are serving people who use search engines and find the content while looking for answers to similar questions. You may be frustrated by people who don't close questions but ask new ones, but I'd find it more frustrating if site content was hidden from me or I was unable to answer if I wanted to.

The reputation system is just a heuristic to automate moderation privileges. Accept rate and points are shown next to questioner's avatars so each answerer can make their own decisions about such policies. Moreover, you can click through to see the questions someone has answered to decide if the basis of their reputation is meaningful to you or not.

But as a meta-meta-stackoverflow comment: don't let the internets get to you. These sites are open to everyone, and it's largely an anarchy beyond your control. I'd be more amused if I got a -100 question than feel my life was under attack. :)

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How dare you call me offensive! That's offensive! –  XMLbog Jan 8 '10 at 18:54
Gaspensive then? :P –  o.k.w Jan 8 '10 at 19:29

I posed a similar question awhile ago here and also got downvoted into oblivion. My idea was to tax the unaccepted questions with rep that eventually gets returned when the answer is accepted. It would probably a pain to implement and highly subjective because one can never know if the answer worked for the author.

It would be interesting to see some sort of automatic bounty system for the old, unaccepted questions (perhaps requiring that the automatically accepted answer have at least 5 upvotes). If anything, it may drive encourage more people to see the question (new members since the date it was posted) or those with 3K+ rep to close it.

For those who wish to downvote my previous question some more, here it is:
Should questions with no accepted answers be charged "interest" after awhile?

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Punishing people who happen to get crappy answers that don't really answer their questions so they have nothing worthwhile to accept is not a good idea. I am amazed at your inability to think things through and will avoid using the software you create as much as possible. –  XMLbog Jan 8 '10 at 19:57
Uh, thanks? I gave my previous question the negative press it deserved (perhaps that's what your comment was enforcing?); you must not have noticed the "my idea was" and the "because one can never know if the answer worked for the author" for my previous idea, which as a brainstormed idea was pretty bad. –  Austin Salonen Jan 8 '10 at 20:19
@Gaspar: I've added the link to my previous question so you can downvote the idea, though I suspect you already have. –  Austin Salonen Jan 8 '10 at 20:26
Eh, I'll leave it alone. It's damaged enough for my tastes. I was just feeling unnecessarily unreasonable when I wrote my comment. The feeling has pasHEY WHY HAVE YOU NEVER BOUGHT ME ANY DONUTS?! –  XMLbog Jan 8 '10 at 20:42
UPS won't deliver to "the end of time" otherwise I'd try to hook you up. –  Austin Salonen Jan 8 '10 at 20:49

I'm having a hard time deciding whether to join the party on the comment chains or post an answer, but, what the heck.

There is a good reason, oh @Gaspar, to encourage accepts, and it isn't related to rep-farming. The site highlights unaccepted questions. There's a model here in which, until a question gets an accepted answer, the site assumes that none of the answers have met the questioners needs.

So I find myself in favor of gentle reminders, but not in favor of draconian solutions like the OP's question or some of the snarkier nudges I've seen.

I would also point out that there is sometimes a positive correlation between zero accepts and 'plz send me the codez' questions, so I have some sympathy for people who post more, ahem, strident responses to someone who has posted 40 questions, accepted no answers, and is posting yet another question asking this community to do their work for them.

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"until a question gets an accepted answer, the site assumes that none of the answers have met the questioners needs" -- not really true; questions are only considered unanswered if there are no accepted nor upvoted answers. –  John Rudy Jan 9 '10 at 0:29

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