I keep having people complaining about how my accept rate is so low on SO, the reason for this was when I first joined SO I thought well if we want to make a useful site then, however good the answers may be to a question, if it is not the exact solution I used then I would not choose it as an answer. My logic was that I could not prove that the answer really would work, I could only know that the final solution I found to my problem worked though it may not have been found through SO. Thus I would not start a plague of possibly faulty answers for some poor unsuspecting googler.

So that being said, how should I pick an answer, just by which one sounds best or has the most votes? That sounds riddled with flaws to me as nobody did the leg work to verify whether or not that answer really would work in my specific situation. At the same time I don't want people to think I am a jerk for not accepting answers... I understand there is a balance between social time and real technology but it ought to favor reality not stroking of egos.

So what gives? Is it really bad to have a low accept rate if none of the answers were the real solution used and thus I could not prove that they are REAL answers? Or should I appeal to the masses and try to make people happy? To me that defeats the purpose of the site!


You can accept a very good answer that got you partway to your solution, and note it with an EDIT line in your question, or comment to the answer.

Sometimes I'll give an answer that I know isn't the complete solution, because I'm sure it might give the needed clue to the OP that will help him solve his problem (and yes, it has worked before).

  • good point, I'll just start adding comments or EDITs to expound on where I went and how the answer pushed me in the right direction Dec 10 '09 at 18:36

If you have an answer that worked, and its not one of the ones posted, then post your answer and accept it two days later. That way we all know what worked for you and your answer may help the next poor soul in the same situation.


It depends. If there is an answer that is very close to the solution you came up with or that was most helpful, then I would accept that answer and leave a comment explaining how you had to deviate, and why, from the answer that you are accepting. If no answer really helped, or helped enough, then I would post your own solution as an answer and accept after the waiting period. In both cases you are annotating your solution for later readers. In the first, you are rewarding the person who was most accurate and helpful as well. Of course, if there is an acceptable, accurate answer, the you should accept it. If there are multiple, then use your own criteria for which one to choose (first, containing extra info, etc.).

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