I am a user in several SE sites and I regularly observe the following situation. There are posts with many good answers and the OP stalls to accept any of them. First of all I am aware that:

  1. When I say "good answers", that is based on my personal opinion and the OP may have a different one. However, there are lots of cases where the answers are very informative, to-the-point and address the OP's question to the fullest extent. This is not subjective.
  2. I also understand that the OP does not have any responsibility to check on their post 24/7. However, this argument also breaks down in lots of cases, where the OP stalls on accepting a good answer but discusses extensively in the comments section (possibly asking more sub-questions instead of clarifications on the original question).

This brings me to my question(s): Is this behavior good etiquette? Does it violate any SE rules?

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    This sounds awfully similar to a help vampire. Also if it is a technical post OP might need time to experiment with all the answers before they can decide which answer is "best". – Luuklag Mar 3 at 12:35
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    Is there any evidence that they're doing this specifically to "raise the visibility or advertise" their question, as opposed to any other motive? – F1Krazy Mar 3 at 12:36
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    IMHO, in a broad sense it's hard to tell if it's a good / bad etiquette but it's certain that it doesn't violate the rules. – Rubén Mar 3 at 17:14
  • Can you define "stall"? Because it's actually a good etiquette to wait a while to accept to allow for more people to answer it first. 24 hours would be the minimum for me as it accommodates people from all tome zones but maybe even 2-3 days might be appropriate. Just because there are answers doesn't mean they are all the answers or the best ones. Having an accepted answer can discourage further answers that might even be better. If you mean the OP is apparently active but doesn't accept something that seems to have helped even after a few weeks, that might be different. – VLAZ Mar 4 at 9:09

Yes, this is fine. Actually, the reverse happens more often; new users need to be warned not to accept answers too quickly, in order to encourage more (better) answers than the first one they get.

Discussions in the comments section do not bump the question, so the amount of extra visibility they get can be neglected. It's true[citation needed] that users are less likely to write new answers to questions with an accepted answer, but it still happens often enough. I'm sure I can easily dig a couple of examples through SEDE if you're interested.

(possibly asking more sub-questions instead of clarifications on the original question)

That is problematic (how problematic depends on how close they stay to the original question; other visitors might need the same clarification as the OP). But I'm not sure if that 1-1 corresponds to accepting or not accepting an answer. If I have written an answer where that happens, whether it's accepted or not does not matter in how I would reply to such comments. If the OP is asking a new question, it should be a new question.


There is never any requirement to accept an answer.

Personally, I have one site I'm active on where I haven't accepted an answer in years, in order to encourage other people to take a stab at answering the question. Accepting can give a sense of closure to the question - which can deter possible other answers.

Especially if the OP is still asking for clarification, it's possible that the existing answer doesn't fully address their concerns, which is another reason for not accepting an answer.

In any case, accepting an answer is totally optional and you shouldn't really pressure anyone into accepting an answer.

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    Could you please extend a bit on what cases or SE sites might be worthy to not accept and answer after years they were posted? – Rubén Mar 3 at 17:13

Does it violate any SE rules?

It doesn't violate any hard rule, but the guidelines encourage accepting answers if they thoroughly solve the stated problem - How does accepting an answer work? and What should I do when someone answers my question? - Help Center

This brings me to my question(s): Is this behavior good etiquette?

Lets consider a couple of strong positive correlations:

  • It signals to users searching to answer questions that problem has been mostly solved.

  • It signals to users searching for solutions they're more likely to find one in that thread.

For both the above - the reasoning given in the thread title becomes detrimental to the broader audience's best interests:

just to raise the visibility or advertise your question?

If that's the sole aim I think it's anti-pattern, the right way to raise visibility and entice further answers is placing a bounty.

But there are many possible reasons for the OP not immediately accepting an answer. It can happen when the OP doesn't immediately have enough time to test or verify the answer.

OP stalls on accepting a good answer but discusses extensively in the comments section **(possibly asking more sub-questions instead of clarifications on the original question).

This is different from the former reasons to stall accepting. In general it's poor form to change the problem statement to invalidate answers, it's also poor form to keep broadening the scope of a question in the comments (past a point the question will loose focus, and it's best to tell the OP to ask a new question.)

See Change to question invalidates my answer, what to do? and Exit strategies for “chameleon questions”

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