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I was browsing the tab for unanswered questions and I saw the question "https://meta.stackexchange.com/q/253644/323179":

screenshot showing the question under "unanswered by votes"

But why is it considered unanswered? Note that:

  • It has one answer with a score of 12 (+13/-1). Not accepted, but certainly positively scored.
  • The answer is currently not deleted.
  • All of the voting on the answer happened a long time ago, in 2015.
  • It was never merged. (Similar bug reports involving merges were reported here and here and here.)
  • Searching for the question title in the close as duplicate search doesn’t bring it up either.

You can reproduce this with the unanswered tab under questions (aka with "No accepted answer" in a filter). The post is easily found at the bottom of this page.

And in addition to that, the post can (also easily) be found when searching with the isanswered:no operator here, at the bottom of the page. The operator should return "questions with no positively-scored answers" (so it's expected that questions with accepted 0 score answers show up—but not this specific question).

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  • 1
    I never accepted the answer.
    – Tim
    Jul 20 '17 at 0:12
  • 5
    @Tim Never said you did. My point is the answer is upvoted and yet the question appears in the list of "questions with no upvoted or accepted answers"
    – Laurel
    Jul 20 '17 at 0:14
  • Hu, weird. Perhaps because I downvoted the answer?
    – Tim
    Jul 20 '17 at 0:20
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    @Tim asker' downvote is hardly a reason because this would leak voting anonymity (which is kind of a sacred cow over here). Most likely they incorrectly handle answers from deleted accounts
    – gnat
    Jul 20 '17 at 6:43
  • I've noticed this seems to happen on a lot (all?) sites for example the following question doesn't have an answer with a single downvote: electronics.stackexchange.com/questions/141673/…
    – PeterJ
    Jul 20 '17 at 7:21
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    Well, answer was deleted by its author in Oct 17 2015 at 0:08. Ten minutes after that, the question itself was deleted by the automatic process to remove abandoned questions since it had negative score and no answers. Week later SE employee undeleted them both. Probably something is bugged behind the scenes, causing the question to be marked as unanswered. (e.g. it doesn't catch undelete events) Jul 20 '17 at 8:24
  • @Shadow Just thought to take a look better look at the EE question I posted above to see if there was anything odd about it and it was used as the merge target for another question.
    – PeterJ
    Jul 20 '17 at 10:17
  • Caching. It's always caching.
    – Mark
    Feb 12 '19 at 1:11
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This recently happened also on Matter Modeling Stack Exchange (MMSE), for this question. The question had been deleted, and when it got un-deleted, the question re-entered the unanswered queue, despite having an answer with a score of +5. The asker had not downvoted the answer, as Gnemlock suggested in their answer. The second hypothesis by Gnemlock, also holds true in the MMSE case because the user that wrote the answer had their account deleted.

Hyper-neutrino upvoted the answer to see if the problem was simply that the answer had got no upvotes since being deleted. This didn't seem to change anything. Furthermore, the example given in your question involved an answer that had received 0 upvotes since being deleted and undeleted. I upvoted the answer just now (it was a good answer anyway), and despite that being about 20 minutes ago, the question you originally mentioned, is still in the unanswered queue:

We did however manage to fix this on the MMSE question by deleting the answer by the deleted user, and re-posting it as a Community Wiki and upvoting the "new" answer. This is not a great solution, because the original answer's upvotes are all gone, and the author of them (even though that author's SE account was removed) is not apparent to people that don't have enough rep to see deleted answers.

It does seem that there is a bug when:

  • A question with a positive-score answer by a user with a removed account, is deleted then undeleted. The positive-score answer no longer counts, and the answer re-enters the unanswered queue. New upvotes to that answer don't help the question exit the unanswered queue, only new answers seem work for this purpose.

Credit to Sonic for pointing this question to my attention, to rene for pointing out that the question on MMSE had been deleted then undeleted, to Hyper-neutrino for their help with testing one of the theories about what might be going on, and to everyone else that helped get to the bottom of this.

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  • The answerer can't complain that you reposted their answer, but it seems too extreme, as the average user also loses the comments and revision history. (Ideally, if you can create a completely new answer, I would suggest doing that. Or better yet, they could fix this bug, we all agree that these undeleted answers should count towards answering the question.)
    – Laurel
    Jun 11 at 19:34
  • @Laurel Absolutely. I did mention that this "workaround" to get the question out of the unanswered queue is not a good one because it loses the vote history. Now you point out that it also loses the comment history and revision history. The timeline would also be lost. These are some of the reasons I didn't repost the answer for the question originally mentioned in this thread. I only did it on MMSE for testing purposes, and I'm certain that community would approve of what I did for testing purposes (I was the one who originally put forward the proposal on A51 to launch that site). Jun 11 at 19:37
  • Fixing the bug is the better long-term solution, as you correctly pointed out. Jun 11 at 19:37
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I can see two potential ways this question may be marked as "unanswered".

The asker downvoted it

We can not assume an answer does not resolve the question, if left un-accepted; however, we can assume that the answer does not resolve the question, if the asker then downvoted it. We can see that the answer has received one downvote, and the asker admits that it from them.

Hu, weird. Perhaps because I downvoted the answer? – Tim 3 hours ago

The account that posted the answer has been removed

We can see that the user account from which the answer was posted has been deactivated. It is entirely possible that answers from deleted accounts do not appear in the search for "questions with no upvoted answers", from which we derive the "Unanswered Questions" .


If it comes down to being downvoted by the original user, I would accept that this question qualifies as "unanswered". The downvote, itself, confirms that the answer is not useful to the asker. This would suggest that an alternate answer may be necessary.

If it comes down to the answering user deleting their account, this may likely be a bug that needs further investigation.

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    Except if the op dving caused a question to be unanswered, I'd think there would be lots of others
    – Catija StaffMod
    Jul 20 '17 at 4:08
  • @Catija, when we consider specific questions where the OP had downvoted all answers with a positive score, this list could be much smaller; but I agree. I suspect the deleted account may have something to do with this.
    – Gnemlock
    Jul 20 '17 at 4:21
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    No, those are not valid reasons, and if that's the case, it's a major bug. (All in all, it's just a wild guess.) Jul 20 '17 at 8:16
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    Tried my own guess as a comment on the question. Jul 20 '17 at 8:26
  • @ShadowWizard, fair enough. As a comment, I completely missed it; you should consider posting as an answer.
    – Gnemlock
    Jul 20 '17 at 8:31
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    Since it's just a wild guess better not, only if I'll be able to reproduce it, e.g. by finding other answer with similar history which also appears as unanswered. Jul 20 '17 at 8:33

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