I may be taking a risk posting this, given the overall negative reception of these two related topics: wake up and accept my answer please and accept my answer nudge nudge.

However, I hope this will be viewed as different. I believe it is more related to solving the problem discussed in do I always have to accept an answer

When I put an effort in writing up what I think is a well thought out reply on Stack Overflow, I really want to know how the suggestion worked out for the OP. It's not about the reputation points (honest!), it is about what in psychology (and user interface design) is known as closure. (When I searched for a possible duplicate, I learned that "closure" on Stack Exchange means something totally different — but I digress.)

There is already a couple of incentives in place for accepting an answer, such a +2 gain in rep. points, and an increase in the accept rate percentage. There is also (I understand) some robot messages bugging you if you don't accept an answer within X days. I'm not proposing that any of this is changed.

What I am looking for is a minor incentive for the OP to provide feedback in the case when none of the answers given (at least not in the mind of the OP) is acceptable.

What I suggest is something like this:

  • After X days,
  • If the question has a non-negative score,
  • If there is at least one answer,
  • If the OP has not accepted any answers:
  • Then an alternative to accepting an answer should become available.

I'm open to other suggestions, but my suggestion is that a comment field labeled "Feedback" at this point becomes available for the OP, with an explanation that this may be filled in to provide feedback on the answers given and to give the reasons for not accepting any of the answers. Filling in and submitting this feedback form gives the OP +2 rep. points (same as for accepting the answer).

I don't think the risk of the OP providing meaningless feedback just to get the +2 points is high. People with such inclinations can get the +2 points today by accepting a (bad) answer. I think providing an alternative to accepting a bad answer will improve the overall quality of the feedback mechanisms in place at Stack Overflow.

That's all. BTW, I do not propose that filling in the form will cancel the negative karma not accepting will impact upon the OP's accept rate percentage.

I don't expect this to have a big impact. There are many things that prevents people from not accepting answers, and not being satisfied is only one of them. But I think a providing a small incentive for the OP to give feedback when not accepting any answers will improve the user experience for those of us who answer questions on Stack Overflow.

  • 6
    Couldn't you comment on the original question and just ask why nothing seemed to work? Especially when you have a personal interest in getting that answer – simchona Dec 27 '12 at 9:08
  • Interesting idea, but you really think it will help? Users will just submit a dummy feedback just to get the 2 points. – Shadow The Vaccinated Wizard Dec 27 '12 at 9:13
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    @ShaWizDowArd I foresee a lot of "answers didn't work" – Bart Dec 27 '12 at 9:14
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    @GisleHannemyr I think this all adds too much complexity for a situation that's not all that difficult. Want to know how things worked out for the OP? Ask. And if the OP has any remaining vested interest in the question, he'll most likely add an update. As for closure,...just move on. – Bart Dec 27 '12 at 9:18
  • That seems like a lot of extra moderation--which there might not be enough manpower for – simchona Dec 27 '12 at 9:18
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    @bart, don't be ridiculous; you used an apostrophe :-). – ben is uǝq backwards Dec 27 '12 at 9:19
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    @benisuǝqbackwards "Answres didnt wrok"...there you go – Bart Dec 27 '12 at 9:20
  • @benisuǝqbackwards Actually, ben is uǝq rotated 180 degrees (on the Z axis, to be very specific). – Pollyanna Dec 27 '12 at 15:53
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    A little random @AdamDavis... I realise it's not technically backwards. I'm obfuscating the truth in order to confuse and disorient my enemies :-). (Or, something like that). – ben is uǝq backwards Dec 27 '12 at 15:55
  • Leave the OP's alone. They've already exploited your precious time, technical knowledge and communication skills to get exactly what they want - an answer to their problem. They're happy. If you're not then you shouldn't have wasted your time on those thankless fly-by-night leaches. And besides, there's always the knowledge that you made the site better by your contributions, even though the only measure of your contributions, trustworthiness and expertise (your rep) hasn't changed one bit. – Chris Gerken Dec 27 '12 at 16:08

If they aren't motivated to provide their own answer (ie, what resolved it for them), or to comment and ask for additional help, then +2 rep isn't going to be sufficient incentive to provide such feedback.

For those users desiring feedback the comments should be used to notify the OP and get feedback. This should satisfy the need for closure and feedback.

I don't believe there's a compelling reason to add yet another form of feedback, or to encourage using existing feedback more.

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