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This is frustrating for new users.

I've answered tons of questions thoroughly and correctly, and I've often been the only person to answer. However, these users (usually new or low rep) don't return to mark an answer as correct and they just keep asking more questions.
I know we have the 2 pts rep bonus but I don't think they understand accepting an answer is important for the community.

What could we do to solve this?

  • Stronger incentive would encourage them to return to their original questions.
  • Put some sort of limit on open questions at a time without accepted answers until 150 rep?
  • The ability message their profile directly and politely ask them to accept answers?

Those are just some ideas I had, I'm sure there are more out there.

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Well, tell them that they should accept answers, or ask them if their problem was solved with another solution. –  Time Traveling Bobby Jul 4 '10 at 18:54
But how do I get in contact with them, It seems after they have their answer they never go back to the question again. Thats why I'd like to be able to message them. –  SeniorShizzle Jul 4 '10 at 18:59
Post a comment on their question, they'll get a notification about it. –  David Z Jul 4 '10 at 19:17
Welcome to Meta Stack Overflow, SeniorShizzle. Since this question has downvotes, I'm going to suggest that you read this topic to understand the downvotes on your questions. –  waiwai933 Jul 4 '10 at 20:11
@wai, he may also get downvotes for the racism –  jmfsg Jul 4 '10 at 23:24
@juan "Always be polite" is one of my mottos... as well as "don't ask stupid questions" and "if I'm holding a water bottle above your head, I suggest you run. now." –  waiwai933 Jul 4 '10 at 23:52
It is very interesting that this question has no accepted answers. –  Serkan Arıkuşu Jul 17 '12 at 15:39

8 Answers 8

I think a lot of new users simply do not know that accepting an answer is a feature that exists on this site.

Making this information more clear to new question askers might help improve the accept rate. But judging by the number of new users that format their questions incorrectly despite having a box explaining it right next to the question, I'm not sure it will help that much.

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no, there shouldn't be.

you don't have to answer the question. And likewise, the asker doesn't have to accept an answer. If you really need that check mark, you might want to avoid answering questions from "drive-by" askers...

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+1 for "if you need that check mark, avoid questions from drive-by askers" - no incentive in the world will make them turn back once they have got teh codez. –  Pëkka Jul 4 '10 at 19:46
I don't care about the check mark, I would just really like the reputation points so that I can actually do things on Stack Overflow. I've got 29 rep, and voting down this question for no apparent reason doesn't help. People like you who have 36,500 rep wouldn't care in the least. –  SeniorShizzle Jul 4 '10 at 22:00
@seniorshizzle I posted information about the downvotes in the comments to this question. –  waiwai933 Jul 4 '10 at 22:03
@Senior Wanting the reputation is what he meant by "you need that check mark" –  Michael Mrozek Jul 4 '10 at 22:56
@senior: doesn't matter - if it requires action from a lazy OP then you're out if luck - can't squeeze blood from a stone! That said, a well-written answer may collect up-votes from others, even if the original asker never returns... This is one big difference between SO and traditional forums. –  Shog9 Jul 5 '10 at 0:32
@senior what @shog said. Good answers will usually collect more upvotes from others than the 15 points for an accepted answer. –  Pëkka Jul 5 '10 at 12:04

There is not nearly enough pro-active notification from the system for users on their questions and answers. There is for things like badges and the like, but pop-ups that say things like "you've only had 4 views in the last 5 days, please consider using different tags" or "an answer has been posted on your question. if it is not the right answer, please consider telling the answerer why". i know this would get irritating for power-users, but for new users it may be helpful.

What I have done in the past is just simply go back to the question and commented "does that answer your question?" - some times multiple times. Some folks may just need reminders, they aren't being malicious or anything.

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I've actually already done an extensive overview of this topic here

In general,

On private messaging.

This feature was declined numerous times. StackOverflow is not a social networking tool, and it is not meant to be a forum/chatroom. StackOverflow is fundamentally about questions and answers, and not a portal to being living your life on. Every user has the ability to add personal contact information into their profile if they choose. However, this indicates their willingness to allow random people to contact them, it does not necessarily mean that every user feels the same way.

On preventing users with low accept % from asking.

Every barrier to new users is something we want to get rid of. StackOverflow is about content not points. This means that no matter how frustrating it is to not get the checkmark, the fact that there is a good question, and a strong answer (yours) on the site is a net gain for the site. People already comment on and actively ignore users with a low acceptance rate.

This blog post highlights the purpose of the feature.

On incentive to accept an answer.

The users never need to accept an answer, that is just a bonus. There is already the accept rate to indicate that they should accept, and the 2 pt bump to incentivize it. The main problem is that new users don't necessarily know that they should. Punishing them for failure to do something they don't know how to do is the least user friendly thing you could possibly do. But people also don't want to incentivize it too much because it leads to accepting incorrect answers.

Ultimately, we should just leave it as it. The system is strong enough right now.

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This could lead to lower quality accepted answer with lots of answers being marked as best of a bad bunch.

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Could? That happens as it is (and it got worse when they added the "accept rate" display). –  dmckee Jul 7 '10 at 0:14

If you don’t feel like you get enough reward for answering questions from people who barely speak English from Asia or wherever, then maybe you should be spending the time answering other questions.

However looking at your profile on StackOverflow you see to be getting at least an upvote for most of your Answers, so you should keep going. People with lots of reps have mostly answered a great many questions; your answers will also get better with same. (Old answers also sometimes get upvotes with people find the questions from a search.)

You could try choosing a featured question with a few days to run and writing the best possible answers for it, then keep improving the answer. Choose a question that interests you so that the research is fun.

Also if any question you have answered in the past gets lots of views, spend time improving your answer.

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As a new user, only 2 days old now.

I only just found out that I could accept an answer, because I curious about those green tick thing's. I did not know what they were. Now I know, but it was not immediate apparent to me. I think a little more info when asking a question would go a long way to solving this problem.

I would add little notice below the email me when answers are posted message say so that I can come back and click the tick to accept an answer.

This Tick lets you choose / accept the answer that was most helpful.

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The information is already in the faq: stackoverflow.com/faq. –  Toon Krijthe Feb 18 '11 at 9:23
New users are highly unlikely to a) find the faq and b) read it before acting on the site. –  spongefile Oct 2 '11 at 16:34

Answered this in detail here: Dealing with novice users who fail to choose a best answer?

Summary: I'm sure the incentive already exists, it just doesn't help when a new user doesn't know what to do. The current UI isn't as clear as it could be for new users, but the potential fixes are pretty simple. "Was this post useful to you", for example, can be confusing since it looks like that's how you accept an answer.

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