Is it something about the interface that compels people (especially those on Super User) to not mark their questions as having an accepted answer, even after they have clearly gotten an answer that works?

Are there any ways (software or hardware) to encourage the proper behavior of:

  1. accepting an answer once you are sure it is correct.
  2. if you answered yourself, post an answer in and mark your own answer as accepted.
  • This should be on Meta Stack Overflow
    – ephilip
    Commented Sep 7, 2009 at 14:31
  • 4
    Can you elaborate your hardware theories for this a little.
    – nik
    Commented Sep 7, 2009 at 14:32
  • 13
    Have you met Dimitri C? meta.stackexchange.com/questions/18054/…
    – random
    Commented Sep 7, 2009 at 15:34
  • Maybe the answer is not accepted because the question is moved to a site where the asker does not have an account?
    – mark4o
    Commented Sep 8, 2009 at 4:52
  • @random I have. I asked him to mark an answer as accepted on superuser. That's why his accepted rate is no longer 0% (it's 6%, but who's counting?)
    – alex
    Commented Sep 21, 2009 at 21:22
  • 4
    You have 7 answers now. Please consider accepting one of them :) Commented Jul 20, 2010 at 10:24
  • To clarify something not covered in any of the answers so far: is there anything one can do to encourage the "asker" to select an answer besides leave a comment? Is it possible to send a direct message to a user, or ask an admin to check the box when the "asker" has clearly indicated that a question is answered but has not checked it?
    – Andrew
    Commented Sep 19, 2010 at 20:17
  • 3
    "software or hardware"? What would that be, exactly? We send a robot out to hit you over the head until you accept some answers? :)
    – Tom Zych
    Commented Sep 7, 2011 at 14:49

7 Answers 7


People don't accept answers because they don't care. They come to a certain site, they ask their question, they see via email that they got some answers, they see it's what they were looking for and that's it.

They never come back to the site for any follow-up because they got what they wanted. It's as simple as that. Consider this a sort of Hit and run.

  • 6
    well, except that the emails take 2+ days to arrive. Our email support is very intentionally .. lazy. Commented Sep 28, 2009 at 7:35
  • 1
    Maybe a bit too lazy? I actually forget we have such a feature. It should be a bit faster because it might encourage the user to visit the site more often. Otherwise, they post something, hit Refresh a dozen times, get nothing and go away. Then they completely forget all about it :). Getting an email after 2+ days is a bit long, they lose interest or they solve their problem somewhere else.
    – alex
    Commented Sep 28, 2009 at 9:22
  • 1
    Email notification of a comment (e.g. asking for more information from the OP) should be immediate. Notification of an answer could still be a bit slower, so as to encourage the OP to actually come back to the site. The goal should be to have the OP feel that their question is getting some attention and views.
    – Ether
    Commented Nov 16, 2009 at 19:18

Some of the questions I have asked did not get useful answers. Why should I accept an answer that does not solve my problem?

  • 4
    +1 My sentiments exactly!
    – RobH
    Commented Nov 16, 2009 at 20:24
  • 2
    Good point. But how does someone reading the question know that the question has "not been answered" as opposed to "not been MARKED answered"? Commented Apr 10, 2012 at 15:01

The current way to "encourage" the behavior is that if you select and answer as "accepted", you get a small reputation bump - unless it's your own.

But there are plenty of times when the answer you used isn't "the right one" - it is merely for that instance of the problem.

Or maybe you don't want to give the 15 points to somebody by clicking on their answer. Who knows? It's intentionally left optional, though.


I tend to close Q's when I feel it has been answered but sometimes an answer doesn't seem to be complete, thus I keep it open for more answers for a while.

Also, sometimes it just seems an answer is valid, yet it doesn't help the person who asked it. Thus they wait a bit longer to see if a better answer will be privided.


Hopefully the new Accept rate feature will help.

  • 4
    It won't, trust me.
    – alex
    Commented Sep 9, 2009 at 11:36
  • Actually I've found it has already. When this feature was first enabled I got a whole bunch of accepts. They've been trickling in on old answers ever since.
    – Alex Angas
    Commented Sep 9, 2009 at 13:15
  • 2
    Me too. But some questions I've answered are left dead in the water because the person who posted the question never came back.
    – alex
    Commented Sep 9, 2009 at 13:24

2.  if you answered yourself, post an answer in and mark your own answer as accepted.

It currently takes two days before the asker is allowed to accept their own answer. The question is often long-since answered, the problem solved, and the whole ordeal forgotten about, by the time two days is up.

  • 1
    I've answered some of my own questions and then made sure I go back at some point and accept my own answer. I think it's simply a matter of taking the time to go through your profile every now and then to check for those things in case you've forgotten.
    – RobH
    Commented Nov 16, 2009 at 20:16

I am pretty new to all the SO/SU/SF business, so apologies if I miss out on some feature I still don't know, but I was wondering if it would make sense to have a system like this:

  1. After a given amount of inactivity of a question, the owner is reminded of said question and given the choice between: (A) selecting an answer as accepted (B) postponing the reminder of another X days
  2. If the user does not make a choice within say 5 days since the choice is made available to him/her, the question gets automatically in a irreversible state of "community vote": in this state users with reputation > X would be authorised to cast votes for that question:
    • They can vote for any answer (meaning: this answer actually answer the question and should be selected as the accepted one).
    • They can vote for eliminating the entire question (if none of the answer provided does actually answer the question)
  3. The first counter (either for an answer either for the will to eliminate the question) hitting 10 will determine the status of "answered" or the deletion of the question.

Eliminating an entire question might seem extreme (after all there might still be some useful info in the thread) but looking at the global picture rather than to the specific case, I believe we would achieve the following benefits:

  • We would have a workaround for users who simply don't care completing the job they did not conclude.
  • While we would still allow for the owners of the question to freely pick any answer that in their opinion deals with their question in the best way, we would also impede that a user deliberately block a good answer to become an accepted one (for example because in the thread some responder have expressed criticism towards the question).
  • We would preserve a good ratio between signal and noise in the ever-growing database of the platform (as all the old questions must provide answers to be kept in the DB).

Just my two cents to the discussion, feedbacks welcome! :)

  • I think you misread my post or I did not manage to explain myself properly. The user would not be forced to pick an answer, but would be obliged to be clear if she/he wants the question which is inactive for a certain amount of time to still be kept opened. This is not supposed to be a way to oblige people to accept an answer, this is supposed to be a way to prevent people to either do not care or be nasty. That said, you do not have to agree with me, of course... but at least you will disagree for something I really said! :)
    – user138932
    Commented Nov 16, 2009 at 23:13

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