I am wondering how useful the accept rate stat is. It seems to me that a stat that shows participation might be more useful. I doubt even on my best day I could be the one to give the accepted answer to one of Jon Skeet's questions (which are often more musings than questions). However there is no doubt that he gives back orders of magnitude to SO than he takes.

Now, in Jon Skeet's case the rep alone indicates participation, however there are many people who ask few questions but answer, or try to answer, many. And some people's questions simply have no answer -- they are looking for something that doesn't exist. So they may have asked 5 questions with only 2 having acceptable answers but they may have 50 answers and 20 are accepted. Such a person is clearly participating and giving more than they are taking but their questions are labeled with the unflattering "40% accept rate".

  • I'm pretty sure that if someone finds out that what they are looking for doesn't exist, they could delete the question, so it doesn't add more noise in Stack Overflow.
    – CoffeeRain
    Apr 24, 2012 at 13:50

2 Answers 2


Stack Overflow depends almost wholly on being a good resource for questions with answers. To make sure that a visitor sees there are answers, the following steps are taken:

  1. Encouraging a Question asker to accept an answer (in return receiving 2 reputation for doing so).

  2. Rewarding the answerer 15 reputation when their answer is accepted.

  3. A voting mechanism to see that the community vets answers.

  4. A label for the Question asker that shows what their accept rate is -- the idea being if the user has a low accept rate, it may not be worth it to take the time to answer their question.

These types of users prefer to 'take' and not 'give'; going against the raison d'être of Stack Overflow.

  • 3
    Just because nobody can come up with an answer to a question does not mean that no answer exists. I have a really low accept rate on SuperUser because the only time I ask others for help is when I cannot figure it out for myself, and those are usually really bizarre, esoteric, who-the-heck-even-thinks-of-that? type of questions. As such, I rarely accept answers because nobody can give a good one, but that does not mean that no such answer exists in the whole wide world. Though, I do make sure to respond to offered answers to explain why they don’t work.
    – Synetech
    Jan 30, 2010 at 17:30
  • 5
    @synetech inc. I don't know how it is on superuser, but on Stack Overflow, it's very rare to come across a problem that no one else has ever seen. If you can't get your problem solved, that's an indication that there's something wrong with the question. Jan 30, 2010 at 17:50

I find it useful but I always hover over the rate to see how many questions they had. If it's 50% accept with 3 of 6 questions then I see no problem. Usually such users are very new or ask questions very infrequently. OTOH, if it's 150 of 300 I'll raise an eyebrow.

Also, in those cases I wouldn't skip them outright. Even if the OP never marks your post (or any post) as the answer, that's where the community backs you up with votes if your reply is good.

BTW there are tons of related questions on meta, search for "accept rate." This is a good one: Is it appropriate to comment on people’s accept rate?.


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