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Normally the world can be split in two kinds of people, but in the stack-X world people are a tristate, just like DBNull:

  • Users who accept answers as accepted answer
  • Users who don't accept answers, including one-timers
  • Deleted users (null-pointer users?)

The first one is clear, the second has been much debated (and I believe that a sufficiently answered question should be force-accepted), but the third is the one I'd like to discuss.

It results in an unwanted situation where questions remain in the unanswered questions list, and perfectly valid answers never become the de facto accepted answer. I'd like to suggest that moderators be given the right to accept answers.

Here's a particularly clear example that illustrates my point.

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Your example question is not an unanswered question by SO definition, imho –  YOU Mar 11 '11 at 1:54
    
@S.Mark: how come? It doesn't have an accepted answer. –  Abel Mar 11 '11 at 10:32

2 Answers 2

up vote 5 down vote accepted

The meaning of "accepted" is nothing more than "this answer solved the problem for the person who asked the question." The community signals great answers by upvoting them. There is no need (other than obsessive-compulsive disorder) for a question to have an accepted answer.

It is good form for the asker to accept an answer if one of the answers actually solved their problem, because it's another valuable signal and replaces the noise of "Thanks! This solved my problem!" comments. That doesn't mean that every question has to have an accepted answer.

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Thanks for the explanation. Oops, sorry, I shouldn't say thanks when I accept your answer? But thanks, really (it's a disorder, without obsession ;) –  Abel Apr 14 '11 at 14:02

The unanswered list only contains questions that have no up voted answers. Once an answer is up voted it is removed from that list.

I don't think questions should be force-accepted in any case. Just because a lot of users vote up a good answer, doesn't mean that the answer meets that needs to the asker. Secondly, in my mind the top voted answer is the "de facto accepted answer" if nothing else is accepted. I really think the moderators have better things to do than try to determine what answer an asker would have selected. In the example you gave the answer had 33 up votes, so it is not like the user is missing out on rep.

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Good points, but you say "doesn't mean that the answer meets that needs to the asker". If the asker is gone, it's the community, not the asker that should be considered. For your other points: when visiting any question, even after being used to this site for over a year, a missing accepted (or endorsed) answer still gives me the feeling that something must be finished. The green checkmark is a signal that should not be underestimated and effectively closes a thread as "final". (ps: the potential rep is irrelevant indeed) –  Abel Mar 11 '11 at 1:58
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Hopefully, the green checkmark is NOT a signal to "close the thread as final." That's not what it means on Stack Exchange at all. Maybe you're a refuge from another q&a site with different norms? :) –  Joel Spolsky Apr 10 '11 at 3:59
    
@Joel, yes, I'm a refugee, if you put it like that. I see now that I misunderstand the checkmark as a "finalization" of a thread. –  Abel Apr 14 '11 at 14:00
    
Well, welcome to Stack Overflow :-) virtual hand shake We keep questions open forever, as long as they are on topic, because sometimes great answers come in years after the asker is long gone... and these answers help the internet at large. –  Joel Spolsky Apr 14 '11 at 17:58

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