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I noticed that on the front page, only 5 questions had accepted answers. I thought this was disturbingly low but then remembered that these are (mostly) new questions, so time may be needed.

Curious I went back to questions 200 - 250 ago and only 11 had accepted answers.

I do understand the thoughts expressed in Can I request for an answer to be accepted if it's correct, but seems to have been forgotten by the asker?

So, should we (as distinct from can we) actively encourage the OP to accept an answer even if it is not our answer? Does having more accepted answers actually make a difference to the site?

  • 1
    There's a pretty old discussion about this here on the Meta site for Stack Exchange that's likely the canonical for all others. I agree with John, it's fine if tastefully done, and new users often don't know or remember to do so otherwise. I'd only add that after the OP responds, or after it become obvious they're not going to, it's best if you delete the comment since it would be considered extraneous to the topic being discussed. – dan Mar 26 '17 at 23:47
  • The nature of the site has changed over time. Once a very active site, we cannot deny being fairly slow at times. Once heavily populated with regular users, now we have to admit to being weighted more toward new users. All of that is fine - just different. In the day, up-votes and accepting answers were the norm. Today, not so much. As for new users, some will be drive-bys while others will stick around. These are the one we need to encourage most by up-voting and accepting their answers when we can. Being appreciated helps. Positive comments really help too. It is time to rethink our drink. – closetnoc Mar 27 '17 at 15:09
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    In the "early days" of StackOverflow, the question asker's "profile badge" (attached to the question) would clearly show their "accept percentage" (in red if it was low). So, it was very obvious whether they accepted answers or not and was a strong incentive for them to do so. However, this also prompted a barrage of "abusive" comments, prompting the OP to "accept some answers before we will answer" type comments. It also didn't really help new users. Anyway, they turned this feature off, so I guess it must have been more "negative" than "positive". (?) – MrWhite Mar 27 '17 at 16:26
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    Relevant blog article regarding the "accept rate": stackoverflow.blog/2009/08/23/new-question-asker-features – MrWhite Mar 27 '17 at 20:00
  • I am working on an idea of using paypal to encourage acceptance and up-votes. ;-) Free money! Now if I can get it to use someone else's account, then I would really have an idea! – closetnoc Mar 30 '17 at 3:50
  • @closetnoc www.hackmypaypal.com – Steve Mar 30 '17 at 4:31
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This is perfectly fine. Accepting an answer tells the community that the problem was solved and which answer was preferred by the question-asker. It also rewards the answer-er with deserved reputation.

Additionally, it prevents the question from being auto-bumped by Community periodically in an attempt to get the question more answers.

Using a politely worded template that points the user to some helpful information is also a good idea. Something like:

If you find this answer helpful to you, please accept this answer as correct.

If you find this answer helpful to you, please [accept this answer as
correct](//meta.stackexchange.com/questions/5234/how-does-accepting-an-answer-work).
  • Is there any way that as well as Community bumping a question, it could add that template as a comment? – Steve Mar 25 '17 at 22:26
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The meta discussion that Dan links to is: Do you feel dirty if you nudge new users to accept your answer when they indicate you've answered their question? It is about telling a user to accept when they comment indicating that it answered the question. That sounds fine to me.

In cases where the answer looks helpful but the user doesn't indicate that it was the answer they needed, it is better just to give it a an upvote. I don't want to see "accept this" comments on a significant portion of the posts on the front page.

Having an answer with an upvote marks the question as "answered". The upvote will prevent the question from appearing in the unanswered questions list. The community user won't bump the question to the front page again.

  • Thanks Stephen. I would never prompt for acceptance on the front page, questions aren't old enough yet. I didn't realise that upvotes prevent community bumps. – Steve Mar 27 '17 at 21:20
  • I go through the unanswered and vote up the good answers for that reason. I also vote up good questions while I am there. – Stephen Ostermiller Mar 27 '17 at 21:22
  • A "how to be a helpful community member" page with ideas like that might be a good idea. – Steve Mar 27 '17 at 21:25
  • I agree. The help center is nearly identical across all SE sites. We only have the power to customize a couple specific pages here. You could propose such a page for the help center here if you wanted: meta.stackexchange.com – Stephen Ostermiller Mar 27 '17 at 21:29

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