The StackExchange sites, as we all know, promote accepting answers to questions. People tend to dislike answering questions if the OP has a low accept rate.

However, ignoring for a moment the problems of relying on someone who by definition knows less about the subject than the answerers to decide which is the "right" or "best" answer... sometimes I ask a question and don't really feel like I got the answer that I was after. But then I have to choose the "closest match" or suffer a low accept rate.

Could there be some alternative to this scheme? Some way to indicate that I haven't abandoned a question without thought, but that I genuinely didn't get the answer I sought?

  • possible duplicate of How does the bounty system work?
    – waiwai933
    Mar 30, 2011 at 23:08
  • @waiwai933: I'm not talking about bounties, though I can see some similarities in the scenarios and arguments of course. Mar 30, 2011 at 23:30
  • Only someone who knows less than the answerers can evaluate the answer. "I get an error and I don't know why." "Well, I do!" "Yep, he's right, we all know what your error is! kthxbai!" The OP knows if the answer solved the problem or not. And that's how this site defines the right answer. Mar 31, 2011 at 1:31
  • @KateGregory: The OP doesn't know whether he's picked the proper, extensible, forward-compatible solution, or the cheap, possibly incorrect workaround that "works for now" but potentially contains critical bugs.. that he's picked simply because he didn't understand the other answers. Mar 31, 2011 at 9:30
  • @Tomalak if your question is "how do I architect this" or "what language should I choose for my project" that might be so - more of a problem on p.se than on so, but sure. My guess is that more than 90% of questions across the site have an answer (which may or may not get posted by anyone) that is correct and could be confirmed correct by the OP the day they get it. I actually think that's a goal for most of the sites in the SE world. Mar 31, 2011 at 10:44
  • @Kate: It's easy to come up with a question for, say, C++, that would attract robust, correct answers as well as simpler ones that appear to the OP to "solve" the problem, but which in fact merely hide it. The OP is likely to accept one of those broken answers. The question doesn't have to be subjective. Mar 31, 2011 at 10:57

3 Answers 3


An acceptance rate of 80% or higher is still, in my opinion, a fine acceptance rate. Even the coloration of the text helps people to see that it's not really a bad acceptance rate until you drop quite a bit farther. (I believe the text is green for 81%-100%, grey for something like 21%-80%, and orange for <=20%)

I know that "100% acceptance rate" looks good, but I think that those who you want answering your questions understand that of course sometimes the answers you get aren't good enough.

If, on the other hand, 50% or less of your questions are getting answers, but not reasonable answers, I think you may have to blame yourself for bad questions (or unreasonable expectations) and not the system.

In short: accept that you might not be able to keep 100% acceptance rate. I do.


There are a few buzzing noises who love to harass people with low accept rates. Every time I see one, I flag their comment.

I wish I could contribute to a larger penalty. In other words, the solution here is to discourage harassment.

I really doubt that there's any shortage of people who, in fact, answer good questions regardless of accept rates.

At the same time, it is true that there is sometimes a correlation between very low accept rates and very bad questions.

  • 2
    The problem is that people who don't accept answers are not fully participating in the community. Most of them probably don't even know the feature exists (they often don't know that you can comment on posts or vote either). By encouraging them to accept answers, they become a better member of the community. Of course that doesn't mean you have to be a jerk about it.
    – Gabe
    Mar 30, 2011 at 23:22
  • 3
    If someone has a dozen questions, the majority of which have decent answers that they haven't accepted, then I'll definitely leave a comment along the lines of "you might want to consider accepting some of your old questions, people will probably be more likely to help you in the future if you do." Otherwise, how are we supposed to tell them and help them become better members of the community?
    – CanSpice
    Mar 30, 2011 at 23:28
  • I don't flag those. I flag the nasty ones.
    – Rosinante
    Mar 31, 2011 at 0:15
  • +1 Agreed. I'm also tired of "accept rate police". I thought we'd previously agreed here on Meta that such a thing was discouraged, but I'm too lazy to go looking for it. (Although I agree with Gabe and CanSpice that sometimes people don't know about accepting answers, in which case, linking them to the question on Meta that explains how to do so is helpful. Unfortunately, most of the comments I've seen are merely negative, spiteful, and offer no solution to the problem. And that only applies if the user has a 0% accept rate—not a 47%.)
    – Cody Gray
    Mar 31, 2011 at 5:33

You don't have to keep your accept rate at 100%. Green is sufficient ;)

The systemic solution to no-conclusive-answer-yet is opening a bounty.

Another option is to keep editing the answer. This is what I would recommend here. Oftentimes the lack of an answer means you could add more details (or remove others for that matter). Make it prominent like Update 3:

You can also add a hint like [Temporarily Accepted Answer], if it really itches you to tick one. To make it look less rude, maybe add a community wiki answer of your own (but with at least e.g. solution hints or a recherche summary) and mark that as temporarily accepted. (That's what I did for one of my questions where most likely no solution exists yet.)

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