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Currently, the C# tag has 14,914 unanswered questions. I though I would help and started at the last page (maybe some didn't have an answer yet or I could come up with a better answer) but this is no use. Many questions are out of date and many users haven't been active for a long long time.

Is there a way to get this number down?

A few ideas:

  • Limit ability to ask questions if your acceptance rate is below 80% (wild guess at the number);

  • E-mail people;

  • When someone logs on a again, show that nice orange bar saying that he/she has unanswered questions older than 30 days (again, wild guess);

  • Do something with old questions that did not receive an answer;

  • Probably many many more suggestions.

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2 Answers 2

up vote 3 down vote accepted

I think you're misunderstanding "unanswered" -- it doesn't mean there is no accepted answer, it means there is no upvoted answer. So it's not really the asker's fault; all the questions on that list haven't gotten any answers worth an upvote, so nagging them about having unanswered questions won't help any, it's just blaming them for asking a question nobody knows the answer to

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Are there statistics on how many unanswered questions there are without an accepted answer? –  Pieter van Ginkel Nov 15 '10 at 17:12
    
Also, are you sure about this? I've browsed through 40 pages of unanswered questions and there is not a single accepted question in that range. Could you give an example? –  Pieter van Ginkel Nov 15 '10 at 17:15
    
@Pieter You could do a search for hasaccepted:0; it looks like ~400k. You can also use the API and subtract total_accepted from total_questions, which gives 400595 –  Michael Mrozek Nov 15 '10 at 17:16
    
@Pieter It's possible accepting removes it from that list as well, I'm not sure, but the point is it doesn't need to be accepted to remove it from that list –  Michael Mrozek Nov 15 '10 at 17:18
    
Sorry, I misunderstood. However, that means that there are roughly 400k questions that either have no answer or nobody bothered to either accept the answer or upvote it. It just sounds like a lot. Is this just me? –  Pieter van Ginkel Nov 15 '10 at 17:24

Unanswered questions are simply those that have no accepted answer and have no answers with positive vote counts. It isn't necessarily the fault of the asker for not accepting an answer. If a question with answers shows up on the "unanswered" page, then that means not only that the asker didn't accept one, but that nobody else who saw the answers thought they were worthy of votes, either.

There are other ways to reduce the number of unanswered questions that don't involve automatically punishing or nagging the people who asked them:

  • As you've already done, answer them. If anybody sees your answer and votes it up, then the question will cease to be unanswered and you will have accomplished your goal. It doesn't require anything from the asker to make that happen.

  • Find "unanswered" questions that have answers, find an answer that you think is good, and vote it up. That will give it a positive vote count, and the question will no longer be considered unanswered.

(Maybe those are what you meant by "do something with old questions," but that's not the impression I got.)

I said above automatically punishing or nagging. Askers are already punished and nagged manually by people who notice low accept rates. I don't think the process should become any more formalized than that.

I've already seen cases where people have accepted an answer that didn't fully answer the question, sometimes even one that didn't work at all. Sometimes, these people did it because they felt pressured to accept them for fear of their accept rates to appearing too low. I fear that the suggestions given in this question would just make that situation worse.

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Thanks for the answer. Concerning the first suggestion: nobody will see these. The only way to get people to see them is to force them to the front page with unnecessary edits which I don't like. Suggestions for that? –  Pieter van Ginkel Nov 15 '10 at 18:58
    
Agree that the "informal" punishment is enough. I generally don't answer questions from askers that have an answer percentage below 50%. (If they can't be bothered to click a check mark then I can't be bothered to research and figure out the answer to their question. There are others that are more "worthy" of my time.) I think this is a common enough practice that adding more punishment is not needed. –  Vaccano Nov 15 '10 at 18:58
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@Pieter, It's my understanding that a question with a new answer will appear on the front page just like new questions and edited questions. Also, unless you're the only person working on the backlog of unanswered questions, other concerned people will see your answers when they go hunting just like you did. –  Rob Kennedy Nov 15 '10 at 19:05

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