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Let's say I have a problem, and post a question on StackOverflow. I don't get any good answers, so I end up writing my own buggy implementation, or shelving the feature entirely.

Months later, someone provides an answer. It looks promising and gets a few upvotes, but by this point it is too late to rip out the old implementation, or I have left the job, etc. The question is no longer relevant to me.

Do I have a responsibility as the original poster to see if this answer would have solved my problem?

Relatedly, if someone pesters me about my accept rate, is "I no longer have the ability to check if any of these answers are right" an acceptable response?

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I don't understand - marking it "accepted" doesn't mean that you have to use the answer IRL. –  NickC Jul 1 '11 at 22:43
    
I agree with you. What if the posted answers all fail to address the question? I don't like that this makes my accept rate go down. –  ErikE Jul 1 '11 at 23:05
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@ErikE: If you post good quality questions, you should be able to accept answers on at least half of them. As long as your accept rate is above 50%, I would consider it acceptable. Accept rate is not supposed to approach 100%, since the likelihood of every single question you ask attracting an answer worthy of accepting is relatively small. –  Robert Harvey Jul 1 '11 at 23:22
    
related (not a duplicate): Would it be possible to have a “community accepted” feature? –  gnat Dec 31 '14 at 11:08

2 Answers 2

Accepting an answer indicates that that answer has helped you in resolving your problem/uncertainty.

Answers can help in different ways:

  • They can give the key to the solution you end up using
  • They can help you realize that you are going down the wrong path or that the feature can't do what you had envisioned (this can also be the case with answers that actually provide a solution for the question asked)
  • If the answer comes after you had to make a decision by yourself, it can help you understand why it was a good (or bad) decision.

As you can see, only the first bullet suggests that you may have actually tried/tested the solution given in the answer.

If there were no accept-worthy answers while you were dealing with the problem, but a good answer comes in later at a time when you can only reflect on what you have chosen, but you can't really change anything, it can still be worthy of being accepted under the third bullet.

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Do I have a responsibility as the original poster to see if this answer would have solved my problem?

I would say if someone posted a question and got an answer, then, as a matter of ethics, they should check whether the answer solves the problem, insofar as they can perform this check. As you said, sometimes people cannot evaluate late answers, no matter how much they would like to. A lack of response on the part of the OP does not justify complaints on the part of the answerer.

Relatedly, if someone pesters me about my accept rate, is "I no longer have the ability to check if any of these answers are right" an acceptable response?

If someone pesters you, you should raise a custom flag for moderator attention. Pestering users to accept answers is not acceptable. As an initial reply to someone asking whether their answer solved their problem I would say that responding that you cannot check their answer anymore is a good option.

On a related note, I've sometimes had to reply to people raising a valid point on an old answer I left that I'm no longer using the technology in question and cannot therefore investigate the issue they raised.

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I would add that if the pesterer's comment contains word "ac-cept" (intentionally misspelled with minus-sign to prevent accidental removal), single flag will remove it, as explained in What is the SE version of Seven Dirty Words? –  gnat Dec 31 '14 at 13:19
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Are you sure?? In that post you link to I see only two words that enable the one-flag deletion and "accept" (or "ac-cept") is not one of the words. The phrase "accept rate", however, enables it. –  Louis Dec 31 '14 at 13:24
    
I see, you're probably right, not all uses of this word are described as triggering single-flag deletion –  gnat Dec 31 '14 at 13:25

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