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One of the things I like to do from time to time is to look through old questions to see if I can answer them. Many times I just click the Unanswered tab and go to the last page and work my way up. This list is always growing and so is the amount of questions in general that are just forgotten about because the OP was just a passer by or never cared to accept an answer.

If there is at least an accepted answer I wouldn't waste so much time looking at the question and having to read through all the answers to see if I should post my own... anyways that is just my problem.

So I was thinking of a solution to get more answers 'accepted' or closed in general that would never actually have that chance even though they possibly have great answers with or without votes. A system could be implemented similar to the Flag post feature. A user would click it and vote for one of the accepted answers to be accepted. Once a certain amount of votes were received (say 3) that were all for the same response, it awards the accepted answer.

So this feature would need all sorts of restrictions around it like possibly:

  1. Option to do this would only appear for answers that have not been touched for 60+ days and have no accepted answer and at least 1 answer.
  2. The only people that could vote would be restricted to some rep level teir... maybe adding as a feature to those with above 12k or something (once you get to 10k you got nothing more to reach for so it's always nice to 'level up' and get a new skill).
  3. Max amount you can do per day just like the flag post votes
  4. Need some sort of visual element to say this was accepted by the community or something.

I think this would help because:

  1. More questions get 'closed' but could be left open as well. It's a action by people making the decision and letting the users (hi rep) of the system decide.
  2. Opportunity to create more badges from people helping to clean up the system such as the editor badges etc. Eg badge for helping vote for 50+ accepted answers
  3. It makes answering a question that you know will never be accepted or possibly voted up because it's a rare tag, worth while to answer since there is a chance it could complete the question at some point.
  4. Many times I see a great answer but upvoting it sometimes isn't enough... you know it is the right answer but others will have to sift through it because your one upvote made it tie with the 5 other 1 upvote mediocre answers and the question is ancient so the chances of someone else coming along to answer it are low.
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Also this one: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/26639/… –  xiaohouzi79 Aug 23 '10 at 23:56
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If you are looking for questions to answer you might want to do a search like answers:0 closed:0 also see [meta.stackexchange.com/questions/44739/… –  Zoredache Aug 24 '10 at 0:03
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2 Answers 2

Don't get too hung up on "accepted". SO works just fine without it; it's just a little cherry on top of a big sundae.

If you're going through the "Unanswered" list and see an answer you think should be accepted, then up-vote it. That'll reward the person who took the time to answer, and knock it out of the list.

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I feel like I've answered this question 100 times before. –  devinb Aug 24 '10 at 12:14
    
@dev: Then why don't you close it, instead of answering it again, sucker? –  Ladybug Killer Aug 24 '10 at 12:19
    
@Ladybug because each user puts their own spin. They know it's been asked before, so they make distinct questions without bothering to read the old answers. –  devinb Aug 24 '10 at 13:36
    
@dev: That's the lousiest excuse for rep-whoring I've ever read. Or in other words: WTF? Don't bother with new dupes, when they don't bother with old answers. –  Ladybug Killer Aug 24 '10 at 13:42
    
@devinb sorry I didn't realize it had been asked before but it's good that you assume that. Feel free to close it. –  Kelsey Aug 24 '10 at 15:28
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Highest number of votes is the community "accepted" answer. In the default (votes) view, it will always be at the top, unless the OP accepts an answer.

Votes mean "useful in general".

Accepted means "useful to me".

Therefore no one else can force Accepted on an OP.

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Highest voted answer is not always the best answer though. There are old questions with some answers with many votes and then someone comes along a month later and puts in a stellar answer that is better than the rest and it never really reaches the top since the question is pretty much inactive at this point. Some answers get big votes due to time of the day. It's possible to post a great answer, but late at night it may never gets many views or votes and slowly gets left behind. –  Kelsey Aug 24 '10 at 15:31
    
Then when someone does come on to question via a a search engine, they have to read through all the quickest gun answers that got upvoted to get to that 1 up voted stellar answer. I guess this is a small minority though. –  Kelsey Aug 24 '10 at 15:33
    
@Kelsey: if you know it's better, then up-vote it. Why would you assume that giving "accept" votes to the community would produce different results that the normal voting system? –  Shog9 Aug 24 '10 at 15:48
    
@Shog9 I the scenario I was stating my one upvote would take it from 0 to 1 which really doesn't do anything if there is already one with 3 or 4 votes already because they were quick to answer at a traffic heavy time. The 'accepted answer' has a distict visual element that makes it obvious. Many times the highest voted answer is not the best answer which is the same as arguement that I see raised about the accepted answer is not always the best. I think both are not perfect but votes seem to be treated as flawless. Accepted answers have always been second class citizens compared to votes. –  Kelsey Aug 24 '10 at 16:31
    
@Kelsey: if there is an answer with 3-4 votes, it won't show up in the Unanswered list to begin with. In which case, you're just suggesting another "vote to accept" system and this question is a duplicate... Oh, and again: "accept" has little or nothing to do with the quality of the answers it applies to. Never has, never can. –  Shog9 Aug 24 '10 at 17:01
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