I've come across multiple questions that are more than a week old, have answers for them (some are pretty great in my opinion) yet none of them have been accepted and, worse yet. there is no indication in the question about why none of them were.

My question is, what can we do to encourage users to accept an answer to their question or, if there is none of them are acceptable, at least leave a comment saying why? Leaving them like this can only hurt the site, since 1) anyone checking for the answer to that question won't know what the outcome is and 2) new users will get the feeling of "why bother answering questions? they don't accept them anyway".

* Uses for Science! skill mid-session
* It is possible to have one player lose control of their actions (get possessed) and have the other players not know it?
* Does a warlock's curse added on a staggering note count as a "damage roll" for purposes of feats which add to damage?
* How do you handle the use of unrelated skills in the Dresden Files?
* Can Druid in Shifted Form Speak Normal Languages?
* How does one get players to explore more?

I could go on. This is not necessarily a critic on the users that posted these questions - it's easy to forget about a question if you already passed the point when the answer would have been of use for you, but there really should be something we can do about this.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Huh, no accepted answers for this question. \$\endgroup\$ – GMJoe Mar 30 '12 at 5:31
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    \$\begingroup\$ @user867 See? I had forgotten about this question, something to remind me of it would have been handy. But I guess Pat Ludwig's "feel free to leave friendly comments" works well, then. Too bad it's not an answer by itself. \$\endgroup\$ – Yandros Mar 30 '12 at 12:46

Accepting an answer isn't mandatory.

However, feel free and comment to the OP to recommend they pick one. Also, if someone has a really low accept percentage, I sometimes point it out when they ask yet another question and mention that it may reduce the number and quality of answers they'll get if people aren't sure you are bothering to follow up on your own questions.

Edit: More on low accept users...

Some users seem to leap into the site, spam us with questions, never respond to comments asking for clarification, and never accept an answer. IMO this is a warning sign that they are not worth answering as it's unclear they are even looking for/reading the answers they get.

The primary point of questions asked on this site is to get the OP an answer, and only secondarily is it to post wisdom for the ages (tm) or wtvtf. If someone doesn't really seem interested in the answers to their questions, they are unhealthy for us. And I personally am uninterested in answering questions for people that don't seem to want answers. I don't post answers to questions on RPG.SE to hear myself talk, I can do that in the privacy of my own home. I do it to "help people with real problems they face..." You know, the site charter and all.

So yes, if as a user you don't bother to accept answers, I and others will start to ignore you. It's worth a mention to them.

  • \$\begingroup\$ I hear what you're saying, but I don't think we want another SO Low Accept % witch hunt ... \$\endgroup\$ – C. Ross Mar 5 '12 at 18:07
  • \$\begingroup\$ I do this if it is a new user as they may not know that answers can be accepted. But if its a regular user with 10 questions, 3 of them unaccepted, I leave it alone, figuring they know what they're doing. \$\endgroup\$ – Pat Ludwig Mar 6 '12 at 1:18
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    \$\begingroup\$ Burn the witch. \$\endgroup\$ – mxyzplk Mar 6 '12 at 3:52

Selecting an answer is nice, but isn't needed or required for participating in this site.

To answer your specific concerns,

  1. The answers are ranked by the number of votes received. If one answer is truly the best, it should have a clear lead on the others. If there isn't a clear lead, then perhaps the question does not yet have a great answer.
  2. Again, great answers will be rewarded by votes. 2 upvotes is worth more (20) than receiving the accepted answer check (15)
  • \$\begingroup\$ As you can read in the comments to the other answers, my concern is not specifically the Reputation given by accepting an answer, but rather the bad image it provides and the negative effect it could have on new users. (Also, I don't know about you, but I always upvote the answer I choose, so it would be 25 rep. Again, this doesn't really matters) \$\endgroup\$ – Yandros Mar 5 '12 at 23:32
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Yandros - don't take this the wrong way, but I consider your assertion that not accepting some answers is a bad image and a negative effect on new users false. If you have some proof of this assertion, I'd be happy to listen and evaluate it. \$\endgroup\$ – Pat Ludwig Mar 6 '12 at 1:16

Leave them be. They aren't causing any harm, after all if people voted properly the best answer is already at the top.

See Also:

  • \$\begingroup\$ I don't know if they really aren't causing any harm. These questions speak of "none of these answers are good enough", specially to new users. Again, I'm not speaking of "forcing" an accepted answer - that would defeat the purpose. Something like a reminder along the lines of "You haven't accepted any answers for your question 'How do I shot web?'. Did you clarify what you're missing?" that would only show up once and you can quickly dismiss would be perfectly fine. \$\endgroup\$ – Yandros Mar 5 '12 at 14:05
  • \$\begingroup\$ It's also worth noting that most of these questions I observed are from established users well above 1k rep - so this is not because of lack of activity on the site, as the ones dealt with in the links you presented are. \$\endgroup\$ – Yandros Mar 5 '12 at 14:05
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Yandros On other sites the "leave a polite comment" quickly turns into a "You haven't accepted an answer to your week old question!" witch hunt. That said a quick comment doesn't hurt. \$\endgroup\$ – C. Ross Mar 5 '12 at 15:00
  • \$\begingroup\$ There is no need for a witch hunt. I don't think that all questions must have an accepted answer, it is completely acceptable to not feel that any of the questions answer what you asked. However, the polite thing to do then is to leave a comment saying so (and, better yet, why). Without at least that, the question feels abandoned. If any new users posted an answer there, it is completely possible that they would feel discouraged by it too. \$\endgroup\$ – Yandros Mar 5 '12 at 23:26
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Yandros - if this bugs you, then feel free to leave friendly comments as the other mods have noted. As cross noted, friendly notes tend to turn into mandates over time. Don't let this happen! \$\endgroup\$ – Pat Ludwig Mar 6 '12 at 1:21

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