I was just reading this meta post:

Stop nagging new users about their accept rate

It is little more than a rant. But there was, I feel, one important comment in there; that new users or users new to a technology may not have a feel for which is the most correct out of a bunch of correct answers.

Now, I'm 100% in agreement with the "did it fix the problem? if yes, mark as accepted" ideology, however there is a potential flaw (or perhaps 2).

  1. Sometimes there is more than 1 correct answer. This is quite common in questions such as jQuery where there are many many ways to achieve the same end result. A newer user may not know which one to pick.
  2. A user may * genuinely* be so new that they are unable to determine whether a described fix actually fixes the issue they're having.

As a suggestion, how about letting newer users "delegate" the marking of the correct answer to the community. A button which says "I don't know which answer to accept - let an expert decide". Users with a specific rep minimum, or perhaps a badge in one or more associated tags, could vote on what they think should be the accepted answer - similar to close votes, say for example 3 votes for the same answer marks it as accepted.

This doesn't solve the whole problem, new users will probably ignore this button like they ignore the accept checkbox but it does provide some extra, useful, community participation in the vein of SE.

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    If the asker is too inexperienced to know if an answer is correct, they should simply try it out, and then come back to accept it. Answers don't have to - and indeed cannot - be accepted within moments. – J. Steen Dec 13 '12 at 10:52
  • @J.Steen - Did you actually read this? I specifically stated that point, and described what the flaw might be in the thinking. – Jamiec Dec 13 '12 at 10:55
  • Of course I read it, but I may not have understood it. I'll reread it again, if you think my comment is superfluous. – J. Steen Dec 13 '12 at 10:57
  • And honestly, I don't see where you make the point I made, or how the points you made justify delegating responsibility of accepting answers. If it worked, it worked, right? =) – J. Steen Dec 13 '12 at 10:57
  • @J.Steen - Now, I'm 100% in agreement with the "did it fix the problem? if yes, mark as accepted" ideology, however there is a potential flaw – Jamiec Dec 13 '12 at 10:58
  • No suggestion is too stupid, except perhaps burning bicycle tires. ;) I like discussing the pros and cons of ideas - trying to be objective is a fun challenge. – J. Steen Dec 13 '12 at 11:00

The community can already indicate the "correctness" of an answer by upvoting it. This is the community's voice so to say.

Acceptance merely indicates helpfulness or correctness for the OP. There is no need to delegate this to the community as well. If the visible accept rate is still so bothersome to some, just get rid of it as a publicly displayed value.

There is also no hurry in accepting an answer. The OP should by all means take their time until they are comfortable with taking that decision. I have had answers accepted more than a year after answering the question. If that is what it takes, then that is just fine.

And those 15 points one might miss out on if their correct/helpful/brilliant answer does not get accepted? Any highly upvoted answer (valued by the community) will result in far more reputation than those measly 15 points.

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  • Acceptance also means that all important <strike>crack</strike>reputation for the people taking their time to answer. – Jamiec Dec 13 '12 at 10:35
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    @jamiec Which is a magical 15 points. Something which will not weigh up against the reputation one can get from a good answer valued by the community at large. – Bart Dec 13 '12 at 10:36
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    I agree, there is no hurry in accepting an answer. I really don't like when they accept the first answer given 10 minutes after the question was asked. Often, the more correct answer is given in the next 24 hours. They should understand that the user who knows the answer doesn't necessarily look for new questions 24/7. – kiamlaluno Dec 13 '12 at 12:18

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