What is being done about Unanswered questions? The last I checked in stackoverflow there were 155,237 unanswered questions. In my opinion there should be a special day, once a year, to answer "Unanswered" questions. Where both people who answer these questions receive reputation and the right answer marked the user receives a bounty based on how long it was a question and asker gets a decent rep for accepting answer.

--------- Latest From Onstartups ---------------

Seems someone has an issue, besides me, to clean up unanswered questions. This is happening on the Onstartups site.

Seems someone liked my idea for the Startups group they are even holding a contest to clean up answers: Onstartups.com Contest

--------- Latest From SO---------------

Seriously we need to do something about SO questions. There are over 2.5 million questions with 486K unanswered. That is over 40% of them unanswered. To me that is a huge fail especially when more often than not when I do a search it turns up with an unanswered question.

Total Questions Total Unanswered

  • Why the down vote? Seems like a valid question/suggestion with 3 decent answers.
    – JPM
    Oct 19, 2011 at 16:27
  • 3
    Presumably people don't agree that we need a special day to promote unanswered questions Oct 19, 2011 at 17:28
  • 11
    Many (most?) unanswered questions suck. I'll gladly participate in an "answer unanswered questions" day but only if I'm also given a flamethrower to burninate bad ones along the way.
    – Pekka
    Oct 19, 2011 at 17:40
  • @JPM - to expand on Chris' response, votes on meta mean disagrement. Highly downvoted questions with several highly upvoted answers is quite normal here. Oct 19, 2011 at 19:41
  • @Kevin Vermeer, Thanks still new to meta side of SO as you can see.
    – JPM
    Oct 19, 2011 at 20:12
  • I still think as a valid question answer site we need to answer all questions. If there 155K unanswered we either need to clean up by removing old ones that aren't valid or answer ones that are even if the user doesn't log on anymore. The goal of SO is to provide a service and help programmers, not about reputation gaining. Rep is all a vehicle to entice people to answer questions and do some research on that answer.
    – JPM
    Oct 24, 2011 at 15:45
  • Unanswered questions suck so what do we do about the 186K unanswered questions? Seems our way of handling them doesn't work when you have this many.
    – JPM
    Jan 24, 2012 at 2:36
  • What do you mean "There are over 0.5 million questions with 186k unanswered"? As of right now, I see 2,556,965 questions, meaning there are fewer then 10% unanswered questions. Jan 24, 2012 at 8:12
  • Typo its 2.5 Mil questions with 486K unanswered
    – JPM
    Jan 24, 2012 at 14:59
  • 1
    It's 186K. and either wway, your 40% claim is way off. Jan 24, 2012 at 15:22
  • 1
    Well then why does the tab for unanswered under Questions show 486K? Seems confusing to have a Button for unanswered and and a tab under Questions labeled unanswered which shows different values.
    – JPM
    Jan 24, 2012 at 19:38
  • 1
    Looks like you're right, sorry for my bad edit. That is really confusing, perhaps you should post that as a separate question? I believe the 300k questions making up the difference have answers of negative or 0 score, with the 186k having no answers at all, but that's not clearly conveyed at all.
    – user154510
    Jan 26, 2012 at 16:45
  • Someone already asked that...too bad would have been a good question. meta.stackexchange.com/q/80868/168177 apparently the button is for just unanswered and the other is a sorter for unanswered/unaccepted.
    – JPM
    Jan 26, 2012 at 19:20

3 Answers 3


Many unanswered questions are obscure and/or vague and/or feature imaginary problems. I'm not sure they deserve more attention than the dedicated tab already gives them. I make sure to go through that tab once in awhile on the sites I'm most active in, as I'm sure others do. With the use of favorite and ignored tags, the number of unanswered questions shown on SO to the active users is more reasonable than the total suggests.

  • 1
    I look for android unanswered and of the 15k ones I find relevant ones periodically, in fact just answered one today.
    – JPM
    Oct 17, 2011 at 21:54
  • @JPM: if they're relevant and get deleted, don't worry, they'll get asked again.
    – user7116
    Jan 24, 2012 at 15:26

What is being done about Unanswered questions?

There are currently 3 badges related to old questions Archaeologist, Necromancer, and Revival. There's a special tab for unanswered questions and unanswered questions periodically get bumped on the home page.

Also Old bad questions will get auto-deleted see Enable automatic deletion of old, unanswered zero-score questions after a year?

Giving away a community bounty would seem to give users incentive to wait until the special day to accept or answer old questions.

  • Seems someone liked my idea for the Startups group they are even holding a contest to clean up answers: meta.answers.onstartups.com/questions/734/…
    – JPM
    Jan 23, 2012 at 15:39
  • @JPM well ok there are some obvious notable differences. 1) Winning the contest you mentioned gives you books not rep. 2) The contest is for a beta site. A beta site is like a pioneer town and SO is like a very large modern city. Beta sites are more concerned with getting out of beta so unanswered questions and how many visitors your attract are a the big concern. SO on the other hand has big city problems like cheating for rep that probably are not as prevalent on the beta sites. In any case I personally would support non-rep based contests. Jan 23, 2012 at 16:45

Many of these unanswered questions were asked by people who no longer visit the site or never set up an account. This will make the bounty idea a bit unbalanced. Also, if the person who asked really cared for an answer, s/he could have set a bounty manually. Perhaps it says something that the person never did (like they don't care anymore, found a work around with posting back, don't use SO anymore, etc).

In short, I think the bounty system already works to this end.

  • 1
    Doesn't matter if the asker is long gone. Google will still see the answer.
    – cbroughton
    Nov 15, 2011 at 11:41
  • Hence why we need to do something about it... too many unanswered in my opinion.
    – JPM
    Jan 16, 2012 at 15:42
  • 5
    We should delete them after 6 months. A question worth asking will get asked again.
    – user7116
    Jan 24, 2012 at 15:27

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