I am facing a recurring problem on Stack Overflow that goes like this:

Someone asks a question. I answer, and we chat until their problem is solved. Then they leave the site, forgetting to upvote answer or mark it accepted. This, sort of thing discourages answering.

Is there a way we can tackle this problem? Or, should I just ignore questions from new users, since I'm not sure whether they will accept my answer?

  • 26
    i spend my 1 hour to give the answer and after that if someone behave in this way then what to do with him?
    – Tofeeq
    Commented Jan 16, 2012 at 7:15
  • meta.stackexchange.com/questions/51746/…
    – phwd
    Commented Jan 16, 2012 at 7:16
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    @brucelee: its harmful to community if someone work is not appreciated.
    – Tofeeq
    Commented Jan 16, 2012 at 7:18
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    Your motivation for answering questions should be to help the community first, and the individual who asked the question later (personally I don't care at all for that). Anna's answer pretty much covers me, I've given a similar answer on Programmers meta (if you have any interest on reading more of what I think). Please don't ignore questions you can answer, for any reason.
    – yannis
    Commented Jan 16, 2012 at 7:23
  • @AnnaLear: i am surprised that nobody is agree to give appreciation for some one work.But Ms Anna thanks for your kind guidance.
    – Tofeeq
    Commented Jan 16, 2012 at 7:23
  • @TofeeqAhmad Community appreciation in the form of upvotes is what you should be aiming for, not getting your answer accepted, that's just one person showing you their appreciation.
    – yannis
    Commented Jan 16, 2012 at 7:25
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    @ZaphodBeeblebrox: I have my own way to think.I wil not give the answer to a person who has accepting rate zero.and he has not respect for other's time.His attitude is harmful to community.
    – Tofeeq
    Commented Jan 16, 2012 at 7:26
  • @TofeeqAhmad You can do however you please, ignoring questions does not go against the (very few) rules of the site, it's up to you to decide. That's why I wrote "please", because I think your attitude may also be harmful to the community. But feel free to ignore me...
    – yannis
    Commented Jan 16, 2012 at 7:28
  • 3
    @ZaphodBeeblebrox: i agree.But how can it be possible that someone asked 20 question with zero accept rate.What does it mean? he comes to community when he desperately need it.So i am not going to be interested to such a person.
    – Tofeeq
    Commented Jan 16, 2012 at 7:29
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    @TofeeqAhmad Yeap, it's logical to ignore that person, in your position I'd probably do the same. But that's a very specific scenario, that fortunately doesn't happen very often. You could try leaving a polite message saying something like "hey, what's up with your very low accept rate? Accepting answers is a nice way to motivate people providing useful answers". Don't make it about your answer specifically, of course...
    – yannis
    Commented Jan 16, 2012 at 7:34
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    But never again leave comments like the ones @brucelee linked to. That's borderline harassment.
    – yannis
    Commented Jan 16, 2012 at 7:39
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    @ZaphodBeeblebrox: thank you ..i love the way you guide me.But already my reputation very low.
    – Tofeeq
    Commented Jan 16, 2012 at 7:48
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    @TofeeqAhmad It only takes a great answer to change that :) Seriously, keep on answering questions, reputation will come naturally. Don't worry about it.
    – yannis
    Commented Jan 16, 2012 at 7:51
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    I disagree with the idea of forcing users to accept answers and the "Should I just ignore questions from new users" especially.. Anna Lear said it in awesome way in her answer other than that I can say that I sometimes leave "If this answer solved your problem please mark it as accepted" for new users but I never repeat it more than once and it never discourage me from answering other questions, even of the same person. Reputation is nice and shiny, but it shouldn't be the main reason to be here. Commented Jan 16, 2012 at 8:43
  • 1
    We should not force users to accept answers. Also, we should not have to do that too. When op leaves comments like 'Thank you, it worked', SE site can remind the user to accept the answer.
    – DxTx
    Commented May 15, 2018 at 11:38

6 Answers 6


Accepting an answer is purely voluntary and there's no obligation to do so.

A lot of us participate here because we want to be helpful. If you're after reputation and green checkmarks, you might find it difficult to deal with the fact that there's nothing we can or should do to force people to vote or accept answers.

We already encourage voting and accepting answers via pop-ups when upvoting, prompts in the questions list, etc. Beyond that... it's all .

  • 111
    By your definition it's just an optional thank you button. If that is the design, then we can just as well remove it. IMO, the point of accepting an answer is to show that a question has been solved and that a particular answer was most helpful in solving the problem. It's not so much about the additional reputation than it is a status indicator. Not accepting answers indicates: this question has not been solved yet. This is reflected by being able to search for unaccepted answers.
    – Gordon
    Commented Jan 16, 2012 at 8:53
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    @Gordon: i agree 100%.And that was my one point but i did not get judge rightly by community
    – Tofeeq
    Commented Jan 16, 2012 at 8:58
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    I agree with @TofeeqAhmad his question is a good one and didn't deserve the negative feedback. With such a low rep now he has no ability to effectively participate. So you got an up vote for me cause I agree with your question.
    – JPM
    Commented Jan 24, 2012 at 5:36
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    I agree that the accept rate helps us remember to mark questions as answered or to answer our own questions when we get the solution. I personally answer when I think I can contribute. But when the answer requires time and the accept rate of the user is too sketchy then I put that to the back of my todo queue.
    – Coyote
    Commented Jan 3, 2013 at 22:51
  • We should start a "Don't answer this dude" list where all people with reputation over 1K get an edit authorization :P Like this dumb will help dump... Seems like a nice idea no?
    – user403447
    Commented Oct 10, 2018 at 16:35
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    I love it when you spend 45 minutes answering a question, that the user leaves no feedback at all (up/down-vote, accept or comment) and you realize 2 days later the same user asked another 2 or 3 questions... and had the exact same behavior with these. Surely it's not mandatory to accept or upvote answers. But the whole SE pool is based on that. If nobody ever marked an answer as accepted or upvoted anything, SO would have died a few weeks after its launch. There should be a way to flag these users and they should get banned if that occurs more than n times. Such a total lack of respect!
    – MrUpsidown
    Commented Nov 8, 2018 at 13:20
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    I think more could be done to remind people to accept answers. I have no problem admitting that those green notificaions support my motivation of helping people out. Its gamification at its best.
    – Davy
    Commented Dec 14, 2018 at 10:13
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    Would it be feasible to allow the community to mark a question as answered by calling a vote? Commented Mar 4, 2019 at 3:25
  • @MadisonCourto No. Different visitors will have different ideas of what makes an answer helpful and that changes over time too as tech changes or other answers are posted; this is why we have voting. We don’t need a separate vote for the accept mark, that’s just pointless. Commented Jul 11, 2020 at 2:17
  • @MrUpsidown I find it just as disrespectful to require someone to accept a post or vote it up just because you invested time in answering. You can strive to be helpful but there is no guarantee that you succeeded. And the SE platform is there to help future visitors, not just the question asker; if your answer really is helpful those upvotes will come. Commented Jul 11, 2020 at 2:20
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    @MartijnPieters Completely ignoring someone who helped you or tried to help you on your request is disrespectful. That's my opinion. Interactions make SE (and life in general). My comment wasn't about (me) succeeding on SE or getting upvoted for quality answers. I know this happens.
    – MrUpsidown
    Commented Jul 11, 2020 at 20:20
  • @Martijn Pieters - "Different visitors will have different ideas of what makes an answer helpful" - This is why democracy was born. I'm not saying it should be mandatory, but how is it any different from allowing a vote regarding a duplicate. A helpful answer is a constant truth given the time it was answered and if it's helpful, I find the premise that "tech changes" completely moot. Further how and why is it pointless to reward someone for their time? Commented Mar 22, 2021 at 1:30
  • @MadisonCourto: So how are votes not rewarding their time spent? Commented Mar 23, 2021 at 11:09

I'm quite a new user on Stack Overflow but I already know what you mean. It can get really frustrating, especially when you donate 2h of your time and somebody doesn't show the smallest form of appreciation.

Today, when thinking about this I came up with an idea. What if every user could have a blacklist to which he/she could add the users who behave this way, and next to the reputation and badges there would be an extra thing with the number of users who put the person on their blacklists?

The way I see it, seeing a question asked by a person with a high blacklist number, the community would be more aware of who's asking the question. On the other hand there could be alerts like "careful, over 5 people have added you to their blacklists - you should consider accepting the relevant answers to your questions". At the same time, after the user accepts them, the ones who put the person on their blacklists would get an alert like "User X is getting to know how things go and has accepted 5 answers today", which would be a signal to take the person off their list.

I think the system would give the asking people the opportunity to learn how things go and prevent the users on the forum to engage in an activity that doesn't bring them any good.

And yes, I'm aware of the fact that ideally, users should just contribute because of being good :) and that the general idea of answering is not the prize, but the contribution. On the other hand, things in general are far from ideal in this world and this behavior discourages many people from contributing and maybe having such a system could somehow fix the issue.

What do you think about the idea?

  • Sorry to disturb you, but do you really feel there is a reason to bump this old discussion by a new post which does not add anything, especially not to the OP, since he's asked this more than 2 years ago?
    – yo'
    Commented Jun 4, 2014 at 19:22
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    I googled this thread and it was the first that showed up, so I figured that even if people don't post here anymore, they sure look for answers. In my opinion the post suggests a solution that hasn't been suggested yet in this thread so it does add something new, correct me if I'm wrong.
    – oneday
    Commented Jun 4, 2014 at 19:58
  • answer the question, not the user. So what this question is from someone who won't accept? Others may upvote if your answer is good. See meta.stackexchange.com/q/113899/147247 Commented Jun 4, 2014 at 20:06
  • 1
    Iagree with the fact that others might upvote. If it comes to answering the question, not the user, this is how I see it. Some people arehere just to contribute and ask questions, others to contribute and gain reputation while surely there are some for whom the reputation is THE motivation. I've heard of cases when Stack Overflow reputation was a + point during interviews, so as long as the answers are correct and the person contributes, the motives shouldn't matter, right? Pragmatic, that's how I see it. While people don't accept answers, the repu-motive ones are discouraged = less answers.
    – oneday
    Commented Jun 4, 2014 at 20:18
  • 1
    So, I'm in the middle group - contribution and reputation.Yes,the reputation is pretty important to me,not just as a number but as sign that my skills are enough to do some good. Self-worth kind of stuff,people love numbers :) What I've realized is that very often you get the feedback=accepted answer from users who ask very general, downvoted answers that show little or no research. I guess this has something to do with the "saviour" feeling coming from them towards the one actually answering.Iguess I'm not so unique and there are others like me, so in the end we answer not worthy questions.
    – oneday
    Commented Jun 4, 2014 at 20:31
  • 1
    What you suggest here is a new feature request, it does not fit as answer but rather as a new question tagged feature-request. It's a legit request, though I fear you're going to get downvotes due to many users disagreeing with the suggestion. Whether to post it or not, it's your call. Commented Jun 5, 2014 at 9:22
  • I know this is an old post but I too think this is a good idea or at least a good start to an idea for a feature request. Maybe something like a blacklist but for a limited time. say 1 or maybe 3 months would be long enough for the user to start getting the idea that they need to take the time to accept an answer as it is clear the problem has been resolved.
    – Mike - SMT
    Commented Aug 1, 2018 at 15:07
  • Something similar existed and was removed several years ago: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/136951/…
    – Raedwald
    Commented Sep 9, 2018 at 8:18
  • Not a bad idea although you can achieve almost the same by manually checking what the user posted (Q/A). I just spent a long time answering a user to only realize later on that he had asked already 6 questions that were all (correctly) answered and that he had accepted none of them and left no comment whatsoever on any of the answers. Next time, I'll check before I answer! Disrespectful users don't deserve help and answers. That's my POV.
    – MrUpsidown
    Commented Nov 8, 2018 at 13:27

If one sees an answer and upvotes, one is showing appreciation of that answer.

As the FAQ states

Reputation is a rough measurement of how much the community trusts you; it is earned by convincing your peers that you know what you’re talking about.

Don't go around bothering people to accept answers, let the votes from users of the community work. If your answer is good, the community will show their appreciation in time.

Patience and humility.

It aint no race.

Also: Help vampires exist. Deal with it.

  • 7
    how can i show that i am disagree with you?
    – Tofeeq
    Commented Jan 16, 2012 at 7:33
  • 3
    @TofeeqAhmad I think you just did. :) Other than that, downvotes are still the way to go. Meta works like other sites - you need 125 reputation to be able to downvote other posts.
    – Adam Lear StaffMod
    Commented Jan 16, 2012 at 7:40
  • @brucelee: sorry for comment.That was really bad.Thank you for your answer. +1
    – Tofeeq
    Commented Jan 16, 2012 at 7:42
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    Apparently this site is brutal for reputation, less forgiving...
    – JPM
    Commented Jan 24, 2012 at 2:42
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    @JPM huh? Not sure what you mean.
    – phwd
    Commented Jan 24, 2012 at 2:54
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    Your link about not bothering people links to an accepted answer with zero upvotes. As most of my encryption answers get few to none upvotes, and since not accepting the answer leaves the question open and fck up to the *answered questions statistics, I cannot agree with this. Commented Apr 17, 2014 at 15:13

Just "a second thought" on the subject:

If you really care about the green button, then think the next case:

The OP has a nickname user124684 that he can't even remember and then more than a few hours has passed from the post. He possibly will never login again if he already got a comment. He possibly will not remember his nickname to login again. If he find again the question he will be happy just to read the answer but not to remember his password to login or not to press buttons (he didn't even made the effort to select a username).

If you don't care if your answer will be accepted the community will gain from you anyway

  • 1
    I'm sure users use Google, GitHub or something else to sign in, so users forgetting their Id looks hypothetical
    – asgs
    Commented Oct 8, 2020 at 14:02

Don't spend a long time answering a question that gives you no other benefit. Answer only questions you can answer reasonably quickly, or for which you also need to know the answer. Then you will not be disappointed if the asker does not accept your answer.

A question that takes a long time to answer suggests two possible problems

  • The question was Too Broad or unclear, in which case you should have voted to close the question.
  • You are not an expert in the subject of the question, in which case you don't even know if your answer is correct
  • one of the most practical things I found here.
    – mr.loop
    Commented Sep 11, 2021 at 6:01

Not sure why nobody has suggested this yet, but:

... I answer, and we chat until their problem is solved. Then they leave the site

if they're a new user, take advantage of the chat session to explain "how things work around here", i.e. thank them for commenting but remind them that if your update of the answer, or your clarification, resolves the problem - then they don't need to say so in words, but can simply accept the answer, and possibly upvote. Don't just wait for them to disappear.

  • 1
    what if you upvote a question from a new user that has no reputation, and then it becomes a bountied question. so since it's a bounty you thoroughly answer the bountied question correctly. then the new user asks further clarifying comments that you answer too well within the bounty period. but then they don't bother to upvote your question or click the tick to accept your answer, so you can't even get the bounty. would it then be appropriate for you to edit their question since doing so would allow you to remove the upvote that you gave their question and downvote their question instead? Commented Jul 2, 2023 at 21:00
  • I dunno... kind of? Maybe? I guess... that scenario sounds rather contrived :-(
    – einpoklum
    Commented Jul 2, 2023 at 21:16

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