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Here's an example of a question which seems, for lack of a better term, abandoned.

The asker (at the time of this writing) hasn't even been on SO for a few months. There was clearly a desire to have a dialog from potential answerers to help (there are troubleshooting suggestions in the comments). However, since the question is for this asker's particular situation, their lack of response leaves this question unanswered. It can never really be "answered" or have a solution "confirmed", except to give a hugely generic diatribe and hope enough of it makes sense that someone else votes it up.

  1. Is this a problem, or am I just paranoid about the questions sitting on the "Unanswered" tab?
  2. Is giving a generic answer for the sake of giving some sense of closure sufficient?
  3. Could there be (is there) a mechanism by which we "remind" the user that they still have this question which needs their attention?
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Title suggestion: "Apathetic askers abandon analysis" –  Adam Davis Jul 10 at 16:26

4 Answers 4

up vote 8 down vote accepted

In general you can just flag these questions to be deleted -- use the flag menu under the post.

There are also automated processes that clean up negatively voted questions with no answers, and zero voted questions with low activity, over time.

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Should I delete this stackoverflow.com/questions/3325515/… with 34 upvotes and an answer with 60 upvotes? –  Prof. Falken Sep 30 '13 at 12:26
  1. Considering the number of questions with an accepted answer, I would say that it is not a problem. There could be many reasons for which a question doesn't have an accepted answer:

    • The question is too generic, and none of the answers really answer it.
    • The question is too specific, and none of the users really know the answer.
    • The question as it is written does not allow the users to answer it.
    • The question has an acceptable answer, but the OP forgot to accept it, or didn't understand how a SE site works.
  2. If you mean to answer to a question without answers, giving a generic answer or an answer that is not really an answer, then I would say no. If you are going to answer, then it should be something that is really helpful for the OP.

  3. Having to deal with the accepted answers on a SE site still in beta, I can say that there isn't a way to remind users to accept answers for their questions that works.
    I tried using a system message that reported the site needed accepted answers to survive, but that didn't help much. I also created a discussion on the meta site (and other users did as well) to focus on what it should be done to let the site be successful so that users would read what they can do to help the site; what I want to try next is a chat session to answer to questions about the SE site. The truth is that what you can try helps with who participates to the site, and does not use the site to ask a question hoping somebody would reply; participating to the site means also to visit the meta site to report what needs to be changed, or to give suggestions about what needs to be done to make the site better.

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As a newbie I've made the mistake of "abandoning" questions. It wasn't due to any ill intent. Just a case of my getting to a point where I was able to solve the issue myself, but where no specific response answered the initial question fully.

I realise now that this isn't the correct approach and that writing the answer in myself makes most sense in these situations.

Lesson learnt!

P.S I blame my generic question for the quality of the response I received.

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  1. Questions only qualify for the "unanswered" tab if they have no answers with any votes. It doesn't take accepting an answer for it to fall off of that tab.

  2. Not sure what you mean here

  3. You can post a comment and it'll show up in their "inbox", but that doesn't mean they even come to the site anymore

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