I'm on Stack Overflow and will stop using this site due to pests. The 'accept an answer' is fine if:

  1. the person who asked the question found utility in an answer
  2. has enough knowledge to recognize a good answer

Here's the problem. Newbies like me don't have enough knowledge in the subject matter to recognize a good answer. As an example, say you're learning how to work on motorcycles and you ask "I have a loud mechanical noise coming from the gearbox area" and someone says 'you need to synchronize your carburetors.'

Well you're just LEARNING so you can't 'ACCEPT' that answer, -- you just don't know. (by the way, sychronizing the carbs IS in fact the right answer to the above! The noise was the primary drive chain inside the engine - but you didn't know that -- see my point here?)

Okay, meanwhile I'm getting these pests saying 'Your acceptance rate is terrible' well B.S. I don't know enough yet! It's too much of a distraction and it GIVES THIS SITE A NEGATIVE 'BULLYING' VIBE. Being berated in public, on a public forum, is NOT COOL.

Here's the suggestion. Tell users to LAY OFF NEW PEOPLE. Tell folks "new users don't always know enough to recognize a good answer. Let them learn enough of the subject matter, then they will naturally know the good from the bad."

Otherwise I'll stop using the site. I'm tired of being bullied, harrassed, hen-pecked, and brow-beaten.

I came here to learn, not bullied to follow a protocol that makes NO SENSE when you have no idea what answer to accept.

  • 17
    You're right in stating that you might not know whether an answer is right. Why don't you state that as a response in a comment, and then come back later and mark the answer as accepted? Commented Jun 17, 2011 at 8:07
  • 32
    @wantTheBest I've taken a quick look at the questions you've asked on Stack Overflow, and you've indeed asked a lot of them, but you haven't accepted a lot of answers. For the people that answer, it's like you didn't take the time to actually try out the answer to see if they worked. It kind of sends a message that your just wasting our time. Why ask so many new questions without trying out any of the answers to the ones you've already asked?
    – user163250
    Commented Jun 17, 2011 at 8:25
  • 3
    +1 because it's actually a good question for newcomers, imo. Commented Jun 17, 2011 at 9:18
  • 7
    +1 because people nagging about the accept rate without even looking at how many questions the OP has asked is annoying.
    – Pekka
    Commented Jun 17, 2011 at 9:43
  • 22
    +1 because I know that we have some serious accept rate naggers in [php]. However only one of your questions actually seems to hold one such comment, and that was a reasonable link to the howto. And it sounds like you didn't bother to read it and came here to complain about a single accept rate comment. So if you are not interested in providing the minimal question feedback, and your questions are mostly RTFM material anyway, well..
    – mario
    Commented Jun 17, 2011 at 9:43
  • 3
    Not to mention that this question itself comes off as a rant rather than a discussion by monocle wearing gentleman over tea.
    – JohnP
    Commented Jun 17, 2011 at 10:36
  • 28
    If it was broke, and it's now fixed, accept an answer. Period.
    – Pollyanna
    Commented Jun 17, 2011 at 12:48
  • 12
    I'm not sure why anyone is upvoting @wantTheBest - He complains of bullying but uses terms like "B.S.", refers to people as "A-holes" (in his questions) and types in capitals...
    – Michael
    Commented Jun 17, 2011 at 15:13

8 Answers 8


You're asking a question because you have a problem. If the answer supplied fixed your problem, you simply mark it as answered. If you're not doing it right away, you can come back and mark it as answered. But please do mark it at some point. This is useful because

  1. This will indicate to users with the same problem, which answer actually solved their problem.

  2. Rewards the person for taking time and giving you a correct answer.

I personally don't think that asking a user to improve their accept rate is rude. HOWEVER, you should ask politely. If a person is being rude no matter what the situation, simply flag the post and the mods will take care of it. Rudeness is not welcome on this site.

I usually leave a comment along the line of

Please consider improving your accept rate. Please read this FAQ entry on why this is important :)

This serves the double purpose of being nice as well actually informing users who are new to the site about the site mechanics.

After all, these anonymous users are spending time helping you solve your problems. The least you can do to thank them is to find out which solution solved your problem and giving them a little tip of the hat for helping you out.

  • 2
    indeed! - @wantTheBest it should also be noted that even if an answer didn't solve the problem, but helped you (as a learner) to get on the right track to solving your own question then it should also be accepted. Acceptance rewards the people who actually take the time out of their day to try and help you, that's why it's important! If you're really, really not sure you could ask for more info or you could watch the upvotes and if an answer is out and out voted up then that is also another signal from the community that the answer is your most likely answer or thing to try!
    – clairesuzy
    Commented Jun 17, 2011 at 9:47

It is OK for users to comment on your accept rate -- however, any comments about accept rate should always be civil.

If you see comments that are not civil, flag them for moderator attention.

  • 14
    I've noticed your accept rate is just 33%. Please read the FAQ: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/5234 ...ROFL. :D
    – Michael
    Commented Jun 17, 2011 at 10:00
  • 6
    This being meta, I can point out that @Mikaveli is showing exactly how to do accept rate nagging RIGHT - the comment includes the number. I've seen questions by OPs with 90% accept rate and there are comments that say "Work on your accept rate first and then I'll think about answering you." Makes no sense. If they were left when the OP was at 15%, they are now obsolete. Anyone who's going to nag about AR should include the number in their comment. Commented Jun 17, 2011 at 11:44

People visiting the site later want to know which answer fixed your problem.

  • If your problem isn't fixed, don't accept an answer.
  • If your problem is fixed, accept the answer that fixed it.

Being a beginner has absolutely NO bearing on whether you accept an answer or not.

The only thing you should take into account is whether you fixed your problem or not.

I feel sorry for people who have hundreds of problems and have only fixed 20% of them. You should too. In fact, you should encourage such people with more unresolved problems than resolved problems to re-evaluate whether the problem was fixed or not, and if it was to accept an answer for that problem - it'll help out people who have that same problem and find it via a search engine.


Having an accept rate that low (rightly or wrongly) will dissuade a lot of people from answering your question.

Some of the answers to your questions have 5+ votes, are clear and easy to understand - and I'm not even a PHP specialist. If you're not quite getting the answer you want, try rewording or updating some questions. Ask answerers to explain parts you don't understand - they'll be happy to help.

To me, it just appears as if you're only looking for 'boiler plate' answers - this site encourages research and effort on your part too. If your accept rate was >50% maybe you'd have a point, but 10%... like others have said, it appears as if you're not prepared to put in the effort to try / understand the answers your given.


Asking questions about practical, concrete problems you have is one of the core principles of the StackExchange Q&A sites. So if you are in a situation where you can't recognize a good answer, you are probably asking the wrong kind of questions, i.e. questions which are not related to a real problem you got and you want/need to solve, which means you can't easily implement the answers you get, try to solve your problem and check either the answers are correct or not.

The accepting rate is a hint for other contributors to let them know if you are seriously considering the answers or not. Of course, it's not a perfect system: it's possible you get answers to a question, but none is satisfactory, which will drop your accepting rate. But usually, you get good answers, so if you don't accept any, it means your question is not really important to you and you are just wasting everybody's time.

So just keep focused on your real problems, and collective knowledge will emerge. That's Stack Overflow's magic!

  • I really would like to know why I was downvoted... Commented Jun 17, 2011 at 10:32
  • 1
    On meta it just means someone disagreed with you - not that it's a bad answer.
    – Michael
    Commented Jun 17, 2011 at 10:34
  • This person still could explain why he/she disagrees... Commented Jun 17, 2011 at 10:36
  • 1
    I agree with you and I'll take it a step further. I have a 100% accept rate on all Stack sites because I take the time to post an answer myself if/when nobody else can. Presumably the original problem was eventually solved. I don't think there's a good excuse for not doing this unless you just never find a solution... and that I find hard to believe. If there's really no solution, then that becomes the answer.
    – Sparky
    Commented Mar 21, 2012 at 23:10
  • After 2 years, I have to confess: I now disagree with myself. I can't believe I really wrote this. The acceptance rate is gone, and that's good news. Commented Oct 9, 2013 at 14:35

If you don't know which answer to accept you clearly ask the wrong questions.

This (StackOverflow and other non-meta sites) is not a discussion forum, evaluating whether an answer solved your problem or not should not be an issue.


Here we go again.

I've gotten into the middle of this discussion before.

The fact that the accept rate is displayed directly below the asker's name indicates that team SO thinks it's important for it to be there, so we all deal with it in some way. Whether individual users ignore it, quietly move on without answering, call out the asker for the low accept rate, or flag said users for calling them out, is largely a matter of taste.

We should each individually participate in the site according to our best judgement, and expect some differences of opinions along the way.

The community continues to thrive, so something must be going right.

As to your question, even a short "your accept rate is terrible" is still more polite than you'll get elsewhere. Who you get commenting on your questions depends on the subject matter, what time of day it is, what kind of mood they're in (we're all human, too), and the really offensive, hateful stuff is usually flagged pretty quickly, so on the whole it's better than run-of-the-mill.

  • -1, NO, 'best judgement' should not mean harrassment is allowed. Commented Jun 17, 2011 at 22:47
  • @Lance: I'm not sure how you inferred that from what I said. Can you elaborate?
    – John
    Commented Jun 17, 2011 at 23:48
  • If you have not "rules" or norms and you think anyone can just use their "best judgement" then some will harass (as they already do, and the reason for this and other questions about it). Commented Jun 18, 2011 at 0:05
  • Some people's sense of best judgement isn't very good (and those users stand a higher chance of being flagged), but the rules are shaped by the gray areas: not really overly rude, but not overly conciliatory, either. It's still everyone's best judgement how they behave on here, whether they follow the rules or not.
    – John
    Commented Jun 20, 2011 at 18:25

Acceptance of questions being treated as a rating of the user is bad, because there is one simple problem:

  • You don't always get your question answered!

You can see my acceptance rate is 100%. This is because I was forced to accept non-answers as answers by the system! People will visit my questions and see uncorrect answers accepted as answers, try them and see it does not work for them. It is obvious that marking non-working answers as correct asnwers is wrong.

But I am not to blame for accepting a non-answer as an asnwer. This website "acceptance rate" mechanic makes me do it. If I do not accept some answer after at least 1 answer was given to me, I will get an acceptance rate hit, and will be de-valued by other people when I ask consequent questions, which I do not want to be happening!

So, this mechanic forces me to accept non-answers and confuse site users.

Therefore, this mechanic is flawed and has to go or be changed.

  • No one here will ever demand an accept rate of 100%. An accept rate of 0% with 15 questions, on the other hand, indicates a problem (either the user does not know how to accept answers, or their questions are un-answerable). Under no circumstances should you accept non-answers. Instead, iteratively edit and improve your question to attract better answers.
    – user200500
    Commented Dec 13, 2012 at 9:54
  • But sometimes there is just no asnwer anyone knows of. Or noone who knows the answer is attracted. And you lose hope of finding answer and forget your question. What now? This question contributes to downing your accept rate. Sure noone will demand 100%, but you ARE penaltised for not chosing a non-answer as answer, this is pure fact. Sure that penalty may never be felt by you. Or it could. Or maybe you just do not want to be penaltised for not doing anything bad? Bottom line, this system promotes people who are doing counter-productive action. That's an obvious problem.
    – Istrebitel
    Commented Dec 13, 2012 at 10:08
  • If there is no answer anyone knows of, it is highly probable you are asking the wrong question. Like I said, edit and improve your questions until you get a good answer. Throwaway questions that you forget about are not encouraged.
    – user200500
    Commented Dec 13, 2012 at 10:11
  • Simple fix would be, if the intention of the system is for people to have AR over some amount, like, 60%, then do not show exact value if it's over 60% - show "fine" or "in good standing" or whatever. As long as there's a public rating, that rating promotes competition - that's the nature of human species! The whole Stack Exchange is based on that - granting you points, medals and stuff. People are encouraged to participate with points, rewards, and so on. So naturally, visible acceptance rate promotes striving to raise it, which is only possible through BAD means
    – Istrebitel
    Commented Dec 13, 2012 at 10:25
  • What do you mean "Throwaway question"? Here is a question stackoverflow.com/questions/9911658/…. Its not as good example, becaust it doesnt have a non-answer marked as answer, but still, I asked question, the only asnwer for which was not a desired solution. The only answerer didnt reply to my comment. Noone else replied. I decided to go completely different route, because noone knew how to do what I originally wanted. What is bad about that? Am I expected to bang my head against the wall there?
    – Istrebitel
    Commented Dec 13, 2012 at 10:31
  • Okay, and if after editing it still doesnt receive answer, I should continue editing and editing ad infinum? And if I have no clue what could I add to make my question better? And what if the original question is not relevant for me anymore because I decided to go completely different route (and that route has nothing to do with the question so I cannot even asnwer my own question with that)?
    – Istrebitel
    Commented Dec 13, 2012 at 10:36
  • That is an entirely hypothetical scenario. Try actually editing it instead of ranting in comments about what would happen if you edited the question and it got no answers. If you have a large majority of questions that persistently go unanswered it is probably because you ask either unclear questions or questions that aren't interesting.
    – user200500
    Commented Dec 13, 2012 at 10:40
  • Its not a large majority. Its a minority, but still, proves the problem with the system. And I tried actually editing. It didnt help. Now, do you insist person should keep editing until he gets an answer? Because you obviously understand noone would. Situation in which person is no longer interested in his question because he decided to go totaly another direction, or in which person sees no more way to improve his question, is very well possible. Now, in this situation, accept rate motivates such person to mark any answer as answer, and this is the problem of the system, not the person!
    – Istrebitel
    Commented Dec 13, 2012 at 11:32

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