So you are camping (please excuse the MMO jargon, sometimes I just can't help myself) your own particular corner of Stack Overflow, hoping for a couple of upvotes before bed. It's freezing cold and you can't quite drag yourself across the room to grab the little blow heater, because that would mean leaving the almost adequate warmth of your laptop.

A completely objective question pops up, to which you absolutely know the answer. Riding the surge of adrenaline, you spend the next twenty minutes typing like a madman. Desperate to beat the other lunatics that loiter in your tag of choice. You beat them to the punch and enter a superlative answer, code samples, examples and maybe some ironic humour. You are flushed with your own awesomeness.

You go to bed. Satisfied you have garnered a couple of points of virtual self validation. You look forward to the flush of pleasure in the morning when you see your account bumped ever closer (yet never close enough) to that shining example of Skeetness.

Yet, the next morning, no such flush occurs. Your answer sits in prime position for some questioner love and none eventuates. You might get a couple of upvotes from some sympathetic SO compatriot, but the ultimate (I'll try to avoid any unsavory metaphors here) satisfaction of accepted answer is denied you.

So my question. How you react to this kind of situation?

  • Catch yourself monitoring the questioner's account waiting for them to log on and then breaking nearby inanimate objects when your answer continues to be ignored.
  • Panic that the questioner might delete their account, leaving your beloved question to evaporate in a puff of uninterest.
  • Wondering if it was something you said and answering some other of the questioner's queries in the hope of redeeming yourself in their fickle eyes.

I have seen a few examples of this type of frustration on Twitter and wondered how the hardcore Stack Overflow community dealt with this type of rejection.

  • 11
    I love the style of your question :-) Have you ever thought about writing books? Jun 28, 2009 at 16:39
  • 1
    ROTFL! "eventuates" indeed. +1 for the imagery.
    – Jason S
    Jun 28, 2009 at 16:46
  • 2
    Thanks very much John. I think learning to be a better writer is a big part of why I love StackOverflow. Jun 28, 2009 at 16:47
  • 4
    Great point, I have noticed this when answering questions from people with 1 rep point. The trend is they dont come back as can be seen by the 63000 or so who have 1 rep point.
    – redsquare
    Jun 28, 2009 at 16:51
  • You of course know now that all the people answering your question are going to expect immediate feedback from you. ;) Jun 29, 2009 at 21:02
  • Hehe, the irony being that this kind of pretty subjective discussion doesn't have an accepted answer. But rest assured, I have been checking back regularly ;). Jun 29, 2009 at 23:36
  • Great point, +1. If you are interested, in my early days on meta, I got a -11 for this WAKE UP proposal. May 13, 2011 at 5:15
  • I think you meant uninterested, not disinterested. I gave it a thumbs up anyway. Made me LOL. Aug 10, 2012 at 20:23
  • @JiveDadson Thanks for the correction. I have updated accordingly, Aug 10, 2012 at 23:20

5 Answers 5


Use the time to answer more questions instead. The questioner will probably come back eventually...

  • Perhaps your even tempered reason is the secret of your success. I do manage to forgot those questions eventually, with therapy. Jun 28, 2009 at 16:10
  • Try telling me I'm wrong about something and you'll see the opposite of "even tempered reason" though - I get quite fanatical about proving my point sometimes ;)
    – Jon Skeet
    Jun 28, 2009 at 16:42
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    @Jon Skeet, you're wrong about what you're like when people tell you you're wrong ;)
    – Jon
    Jun 28, 2009 at 16:47

In response to tomjedrz:

I think the questioner does owe it to the community to come back and make some response to the people who have answered the question in their own time.

I don't think that the answerer is entitled to anything beyond courtesy (hence my bugbear about unexplained down-votes!).

Questioners are already encouraged to accept an answer - but that relies on them coming back to the site and visiting their profile page on a semi-regular basis. I think anything else (e-mails for example) would get too intrusive.

  • Agree with all three answers. Particularly 2.
    – Richard
    Jun 28, 2009 at 22:36
  • I absolutely agree with 2. In my attempts to amuse myself and others I may not have put enough emphasis on the objective question, objectively correct answer aspect of this scenario. I don't object to answers being ignored in every case (because certainly they sometimes are), just those cases where an answer is demonstrably correct (and where all answers are ignored). Jun 28, 2009 at 22:51

We'll get someone to implement a feature that locks the OP's browser on that question and refuses to let their browser be used for anything else until they click the green check box. We'll also implement a snap-to effect that snaps the mouse pointer on top of the green checkboxes until they select one.

If after several weeks, they still don't click the green checkbox, we'll automatically login to their email account and run a script that sends all of their drunken unsent emails from their drafts folder and CC's all of the users in their Contacts.

In general, I don't think accepts are worth worrying about. Whereas an accept is limited to a measly 15 reputation points, if your answer is really good then you'll get countless upvotes leading to great fame and fortune in the form of an unlimited potential of reputation points.

Keep in mind that the OP may not be sure yet that the solution is the best and may be waiting for more answers, or he/she may need time to think about which answer to accept.

Either way, just focus on creating great content for the site, and the reputation will come.

Ahem, I also want to point out that it's been years since this question was asked, and even you are not yet able to decide on an accepted answer. ;)

  • +1 That sounds like a plan ;). Yep it is pretty ironic that this pretty subjective discussion style question doesn't really have an objective accepted answer. May 13, 2011 at 13:56
  • Point taken. Oh, and +1 for using eventuates in your question.
    – jmort253
    May 13, 2011 at 23:42

If it's an answer I've put quite a bit of time into, I'll check back now and then for a few days. If there's still no accepted answer after a week I may leave a comment ("Hey, any luck with that problem?"), sometimes out of sheer curiosity about whether my solution actually is correct. If there's still nothing, I forget about it for good and move on.

  • 1
    I have left a few of those "any luck" comments. The ones that really make me crazy are the ones when I don't need to know if my solution was correct. When I know it was. Jun 29, 2009 at 23:45

Interesting Discussion ... brings up some questions.

Clearly, it is desirable for the community that the author of a question pay attention to the answers, upvote as appropriate, and accept an answer if appropriate.

1- Does the questioner owe anything to the community after posting a question? If so, what is owed?

2- Is an answerer entitled to upvotes (and the corresponding rep) for a good answer?

3- What can we do to encourage the desired behavior?

  • I have often have had my answer accepted with no up votes and although slightly irritating I accept this as the distinction between community approval (up votes) and the questioners satisfaction with your answer (accepted answer). My bug-bear is with questioners who ask a question, but invest nothing in it and ignore objectively correct answers. Not sure how you discourage that behavior. Jul 1, 2009 at 3:52

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