I'd like a little button under questions from users with low accept rate to indicate "I have the knowledge you seek, but couldn't be bothered typing it for you". I'm not sure what the title of the button would be. "Induced Apathy"?

It seems that many people would save some time with this function.

  • Is this is relation to a specific situation? please link the question or questions that caused you to bring this up.
    – devinb
    Apr 23, 2010 at 12:56
  • It's not related to a specific situation. Usually going to the iPhone tag on SO gives several examples of reasonable questions getting few or poor answers due to the askers accept rate.
    – nevan king
    Apr 23, 2010 at 13:06
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    Thats just the wrong attitude imo.
    – Justin
    Apr 23, 2010 at 13:28
  • 1
    Can you please indicate what level of accept rate you believe is not worth responding to? I can understand if you aren't interested in answering questions from people who have never accepted an answer, but above that what is your line?
    – Pollyanna
    Apr 23, 2010 at 13:31
  • @Kragen I'm not saying it's right or wrong. But people care more for people who care. If somebody doesn't care enough to accept an answer, other people (present altruists excepted) tend to care less about giving that person their time.
    – nevan king
    Apr 23, 2010 at 17:50
  • @Pollyanna I don't have a cut-off where I get interested in answering. But I don't really understand why my personal opinion about this matters. I've seen the comment "please work on your accept rate" numerous times, from numerous SO users. google.com/…
    – nevan king
    Apr 23, 2010 at 17:57
  • @nevan - It's just another data point. I like to get a feel for what accept rate keeps people from answering, and since you're someone that does this, your opinion counts.
    – Pollyanna
    Apr 23, 2010 at 19:16
  • @Pollyanna sorry, there wasn't a lot of love here so I was on the defensive. I'd judge anything under 25% as far too low and under 50% as questionable.
    – nevan king
    Apr 23, 2010 at 20:02
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    @nevan - True, however ultimately the SO community will benefit more from not encouraging the "I'm not answering because of your accept rate" attitude
    – Justin
    Apr 26, 2010 at 11:48
  • While accept rate is no longer shown with on the usercard for a question, this is status declined because it's just looking for an institutionalized way to be mean.
    – casperOne
    Jan 23, 2013 at 16:17

7 Answers 7


Why do you care about some other user's accept rate? If you give a good answer to the question it will be voted up and you'll get plenty of rep for it. Is the +15 really that important? Accept rate is intended to motivate people to accept answers. It shouldn't be used to motivate (or demotivate) people to answer questions.

  • I don't think this is about why I care about accept rate. I think it's about the fact that many people (including myself) do care about accept rate. Because of this, I've seen many examples of good questions getting no (or poor) answers simply because the asker hasn't accepted any past answers. Whether you like it or not, accept rate does motivate better answers.
    – nevan king
    Apr 23, 2010 at 13:30
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    @nevan don't take this the wrong way, but why are you on SO? Is it for the rep, the knowledge, the feeling you get when helping others? I helped people out on SU because I liked doing it, so the notion of acceptance rate had no impact on me. Why is it so important to you?
    – alex
    Apr 23, 2010 at 13:35
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    @nevan: "Whether you like it or not, accept rate does motivate better answers." What are you basing that on? Where are these good questions that are getting no answers because of accept rate? Apr 23, 2010 at 13:39
  • This is the difference between SO and SU. Upvotes are less frequent on SU than SO.
    – Locutus
    Apr 23, 2010 at 13:49
  • @Locutus and how does that change anything? Even if I'd be active on SO, that would not change the way I see things. This is not a life and death thing for me, I don't want to be angry all the time because not everyone plays by the rules.
    – alex
    Apr 23, 2010 at 13:54
  • @Alex Sorry, I wasnt talking to you.
    – Locutus
    Apr 23, 2010 at 14:49
  • @alex I'm on SO for the answers. I enjoy helping people too, but I also regard tending to your questions (by editing & accepting) as good manners. I enjoy answering questions for people who seem to value those answers.
    – nevan king
    Apr 23, 2010 at 18:01
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    @Bill I've tended to see that users who have a low accept rate get less helpful answers to their questions (short links to documentation pages, minimal help, RTFM type answers). As a user accumulates questions without accepting them, people start to comment on that instead of giving an answer.
    – nevan king
    Apr 23, 2010 at 18:05
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    @nevan: Some users comment on accept rate, but I haven't seen where other users stop answering questions based on it, or leave lower quality answers because of it. I've not noticed a correlation between low accept rate and anything other than "improve your accept rate" comments. It would be interesting to look at the data dump to see if a correlation does exist. Apr 23, 2010 at 19:09
  • @Bill I'd like to see that too, with correlation to the upvotes of the answers as well as number of answers they receive (and maybe the speed of answers).
    – nevan king
    Apr 23, 2010 at 20:05
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    I don't answer questions with atrocious accept/question rates. It shows me the asker doesn't recognize help given and isn't grateful, that they don't care about the answer (or question), they probably won't be back to read the answer, and their behavior (all of the above) isn't improving.
    – rlb.usa
    Jul 27, 2010 at 19:11

Acceptance rate is irrelevant. If you are not answering due to the OP acceptance rate, you are doing it


(of course that is a matter of opinion, and everyone is entitled to an opinion, including you. But I'm entitled to an opinion too, and my opinion is that you aren't entitled to an opinion.) .

Try to focus on the merits of the question on its own.

The acceptance rate was introduced in an attempt to shame question pumpers into good behaviour, but they are already evident as their questions are poor on their own merit.

I've seen several times people bothering the OP about a poor acceptance rate, and the poor fellow only has a couple of questions (5<x<15), most of them without satisfactory answer.


If you can't be bothered to answer the guy, consider you're helping others in the community. There are enough bad apples on SO (as there in every normal society, sadly); that does not mean we should also behave badly. Saying that I know the answer but don't want to help you, in my mind, is even worse than having a low acceptance rate.

If we'd all behave like this, Stack Overflow would be a much worse place.

  • But if everyone on Stack Overflow had a high acceptance rate, it would be a better place. It takes far less effort to click on the arrow to accept an answer than it does to answer a question.
    – nevan king
    Apr 23, 2010 at 18:29
  • @nevan Would the quality of information be higher all of a sudden? We already upvote good answers, that's a good enough metric. Having an answer marked as accepted is a good thing, but it's not crucial.
    – alex
    Apr 24, 2010 at 8:55

I don't think the button itself is a good idea, but it represents a legitimate concern.

When I answer a question, I am trying to help one specific individual. I don't know who else will benefit, so that's less immediate. If I have reason to believe that the OP is going to pay attention to my answer, that's incentive. If I have reason to believe that it will only help some future searcher, that's much less incentive.

A low accept rate suggests that the OP is fond of asking questions (perhaps in an attempt at cheap rep) and not following up on the answers. That makes answering the question less attractive to me, and apparently a large number of other people.

Now, somebody writing a question really should be aware of this, because it's something the OP can do to get better answers. The question should be "How do we notify questioners?", not "How do we avoid insinuating any possible rudeness?" or "How do we get the knowledgeable to put more work into answers that are likely going to be ignored?".


Two observerations

  • Reciprocity plays an important role in the formation and sustenance of communities.

  • If the incentives provided by the reputation system did not matter, there would be no need to have the reputation system.

People who have more than a dozen questions and no more than a few accepted answers are not good participants: Either because they fail to reciprocate others for their work or (and this is more important) because they fail to ask questions in a way they can be answered clearly and satisfactorily.

Either way, they are a drain on the system. In cases where badly posed questions can be salvaged, I do my best to improve on them. However, if the question is asked by someone with more than a dozen questions and an acceptance rate less than 50%, I will try to wait at least a few hours and sometimes up to 12 hours before posting an answer after posting a comment that the poster's acceptance rate needs improvement.

The waiting period ensures that I do not reward someone who is not interested in full participation. Posting an answer ensures that those who have similar problems in the future can find an answer on SO.

This is only for my own gratification. This process makes me feel satisfied. No need for an additional button.


Im sure the-powers-that-be will frown on this one. Similar to sexism, I guess this would be acceptism?


You can always add it as a comment, it will probably be flagged as offensive, but no one is stopping you.

  • I've added a comment once and many people do add the same comment. I don't think they ever got flagged as offensive, but I just don't bother with comments any more. I simply don't answer the question.
    – nevan king
    Apr 23, 2010 at 13:10
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    @nevan: I would.
    – perbert
    Apr 23, 2010 at 13:14

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