There's been a couple of times where non-expert me has asked a question on a SE site, received great well-written answers, but couldn't decide which answer to accept due to my lack of my expertise on the topic (I guess that's why I'm asking).

Examples of such questions include: Can I figure out what my baby wants by the sound it makes when it cries? and What are the nutritional benefits of saturated fats?

The saturated fats question in particular provides two well constructed by diametrically opposed answers. I accepted one that seemed the best researched, but I can't really tell which on is really correct.

It seems that for technical/solve-the-problem-now kind of sites (ie stackoverflow or DIY) I can provide immediate feedback as to whether something worked or not. However on purely knowledge/informational type questions there's no immediate feedback I can provide to the other SE users as to whether something worked or is correct. I can't go run studies on whether saturated fats are good or not without dedicating a career to the topic for example.

Anyway, in these kinds of situations. when I can't really know which is correct or I can't give immediate feedback about what worked, how should I accept answers? Should I maybe just NOT accept an answer and let my accept rate lag (making me appear like a poor user)?

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    Perhaps these aren't the sort of questions that make good Stack Overflow questions? Anyway, you don't have to accept an answer. – ChrisF Jul 25 '11 at 21:01
  • @ChrisF, can you elaborate more on why they wouldn't make good SE questions? – Doug T. Jul 26 '11 at 1:15
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    Perhaps because there's no one clear answer and the facts can back up multiple possibilities (e.g. what baby's cries mean). I don't know for certain. – ChrisF Jul 26 '11 at 7:44
  • @ChrisF sure, but the question asker doesn't have the knowledge to know whether there is or is not one clear answer. In fact, a really good answer to such a question would encompass both sides qualifying their answer by letting the asker know that nothing conclusive has been determined, but here's the competing arguments/studies that seem to support both sides. – Doug T. Jul 26 '11 at 17:00

Choose the answer that helped you more. If there are two answers, but one is more difficult for you to understand, then you could choose the other one.
Questions that are accepted are not necessarily the more correct one (even if that is what happen most of the time); an accepted answer is just that: an accepted answer.

You can also wait to accept an answer, and see which one gets more votes. If you are not able to understand which one is more correct (which should be the case, as you asked the question and you don't know the answer), then let the other users decide for you with their votes.

  • I feel as though saying "this helped me more" would be impossible for the saturated fats question above. In that question, general nutritional advice is sought, not a remedy to a problem, so its hard to say "aha adding/removing fats to my diet helped me immensely!" – Doug T. Jul 26 '11 at 1:17
  • Also, I would be ok with not accepting an answer, but I feel a little pressure to accept an answer cause of the accept rate percentage. I'd like to keep that high so I can keep getting great answers. – Doug T. Jul 26 '11 at 1:20
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    You should not accept answers just to keep your accept rate high. There is not a time limit for accepting an answer, which is not something that you have to do. – kiamlaluno Jul 26 '11 at 2:09
  • that makes me question the value of the "accept rate" box. We shouldn't be encouraging answer acceptance as part of being a good citizen. Someone might ask like 10 such questions and be unable to accept any answer. – Doug T. Jul 26 '11 at 17:01
  • In some cases, the fact the user didn't accept an answer for each of the, e.g., ten asked questions could be a symptom the user is not asking the correct questions and not getting the expected answers. Reminding about accepting answers could be a way to ask, "Are you sure you are asking the question that you really wanted to ask?" This could happen, for example, if the OP omitted a detail necessary to answer. – kiamlaluno Jul 26 '11 at 17:12

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