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Increasingly, we are seeing question askers wait only a matter of hours before accepting an answer. My understanding is that it would be far preferable to wait at least a couple of days before doing so, as this gives others the opportunity to give what might be much better answers.

How can we encourage this behaviour more overtly?

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    \$\begingroup\$ Hours? That sounds good, on other sites it's minutes ... \$\endgroup\$ – C. Ross Sep 4 '13 at 18:57
  • \$\begingroup\$ Ban them if they accept quickly, that will show them! \$\endgroup\$ – GMNoob Sep 8 '13 at 14:47
  • \$\begingroup\$ ignore snark mode activated Given the amount of discussion this has led to in the answers below, I'm glad I asked it in the first place :op \$\endgroup\$ – Wibbs Sep 16 '13 at 15:10
  • \$\begingroup\$ I have always waited one week before blessing an answer and unless I view my question as being very specific to my needs I tend to go with the highest votes. But as has been discussed before we know others do differently. I would normally only do my own answer if at this point there was nothing close to my point of view and then only select my answer if it was really was the best answer not just from my point of view. \$\endgroup\$ – David Allan Finch Sep 16 '13 at 19:22
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It is completely and utterly up to the person who asks the question whether they wait or not the accept an answer. They get to pick, it is entirely their opinion.

However, when someone does accept an answer quickly on a question that is fairly subjective I'll often post a version of the following comment:

Hello, just so you know, it's generally considered good manners to wait about a day before you accept an answer. This is actually very much for your own benefit. We have a bunch of great users who post really great answers, they live in different time zones and often take several hours to respond. When you accept an answer you discourage these folks from contributing potentially better answers, so we advise you to wait about a day before you click the check mark.

This works exceptionally well if the person whose answer has been accepted posts it. It let's the OP know that you have their best interests in mind and that you're not being self serving by asking them to wait.

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    \$\begingroup\$ It could be worth reminding them also that they can choose a different "best answer" if a new better one pops up later. This may also be incentive for answerers to still post beyond that point. \$\endgroup\$ – leokhorn Sep 14 '13 at 8:40
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I think that for questions that are about rules, where there is a single, objectively correct answer the user can accept it if it is detailed enough for them. This is because the only alternate answers are going to be either repetitions of the existing answer, or wrong answers.

However, more experienced users will still tend to wait so that they have the best possible selection. This is good, but not always necessary. Some questions have the potential to be answered quickly and accurately, but could also receive a more in-depth answer with suggestions on how to avoid a problem, alternative courses of action, or more rules quotes/links.

For more subjective questions I think it should be discouraged to accept an answer for at least 24 hours, to allow all time zones to attempt a response. I think that @waxeagle's method of simply commenting to let the user know is effective - I have seen it used successfully many times.

Overall, we should let new users accept answers for simple questions without waiting long, as they are likely to want a quick and simple solution. More experienced askers, or longer questions, should be encouraged to wait by simply leaving a message for them.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Even for rules questions, best practice is still to wait; the first answer could be flat out wrong. There's no way to stop askers from accepting answers so "letting them" or not isn't in debate of course; it's just that there's no reason to make a rules vs. subjective distinction. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Sep 10 '13 at 3:53
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I think that if someone finds an answer sufficient then it shouldn't matter about the time frame. At the end of the day, as far as they are concerned they are satisfied and though there may be someone currently typing an extrapolated version of the answer with better referencing; if the question is answered, is there a need for it? Maybe, but that's for the individual to decide.

They can of course still keep track of the question and alter their accepted answer but it would be bad form for people to comment on how quickly it was accepted.

Hells, only today have I noticed a slight influx of questions and loads of answered icons, which is nothing compared to the melee that is Stack Overflow!

Edit: to reference the Help pages on:

What does it mean when an answer is "accepted"?

Accepting an answer is not meant to be a definitive and final statement indicating that the question has now been answered perfectly. It simply means that the author received an answer that worked for him or her personally, but not every user comes back to accept an answer, and of those who do, they may not change the accepted answer if a newer, better answer comes along later.

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    \$\begingroup\$ There is very often a need for it, unless the answer is dead obvious and simple. In an awful lot of questions, a few competing ideas emerge only after a full day or two. Very often, especially in rules-interpretations answers, the earliest answers are incorrect, or not entirely right or thought through. Accepting the earliest possible answer is bad for the asker - they run off without a range of contrasting options available. It's also bad for the community, because members are discouraged from posting that range of opinions everyone benefits from. \$\endgroup\$ – doppelgreener Sep 5 '13 at 11:25
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    \$\begingroup\$ If the asker is satisfied, great! But very often, everyone, including them, benefits a lot from being asked to wait even just a day. Historically, if my own answer gets accepted immediately, I'll almost always encourage the asker to un-accept my answer for a day or two. The next answer is sometimes much better than mine. (The only circumstance I don't ask them to un-accept my answer is the cases where I'm really just explaining or quoting a simple rule.) \$\endgroup\$ – doppelgreener Sep 5 '13 at 11:27
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I would be nice if you did not answer your own question without waiting for other to get a chance to answer first.


Edited as comments to answer tend to be deleted:

But it seams "it is not merely OK to ask and answer your own question, it is explicitly encouraged" by Jeff Atwood. You are allowed to give duplicated answer but you risk being down voted if you don't significantly improve on the answer.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ I'm confused. Is this directed at me or is this a general point? \$\endgroup\$ – Wibbs Sep 16 '13 at 12:15
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    \$\begingroup\$ Actually... you should check these blog posts: It's OK to Ask and Answer Your Own Questions (Quote: "To be crystal clear, it is not merely OK to ask and answer your own question, it is explicitly encouraged.") and even Encyclopedia Stack Exchange, wherein they add a feature to encourage you to do this. It's fine to answer your own question immediately, and in fact ask a question only to answer it. You just can't accept it immediately. \$\endgroup\$ – doppelgreener Sep 16 '13 at 13:38
  • \$\begingroup\$ Why the -1? Anyway what I mean is not "answering your own question", I have no problem with that. It is "not waiting" so that someone else can. If you just ask a question and then immediately answer it, to me that seams to be gaming the system. I am sure I could come up with lots of questions and then straight away answer them myself. Remember if a question has the correct answer then we are not meant to answer again any more. \$\endgroup\$ – David Allan Finch Sep 16 '13 at 14:13
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    \$\begingroup\$ @David Like I said: read those blog posts. Asking your question and then immediately answer it is acceptable and encouraged. In fact, see the second link: they added a feature to let you write an answer in the Ask Question page itself, so that you can post your question with an answer already there. It's not gaming the system; it's a legitimate usage of it. If you have something useful you can contribute, go ahead and make a self-answered question about it. An asker still has to wait 48 hours before they can accept their own answer. \$\endgroup\$ – doppelgreener Sep 16 '13 at 14:14
  • \$\begingroup\$ Ok. From now on when I already know the answer to a question I have asked I will not leave it a few days so that the newbies can get a chance to get some rep. \$\endgroup\$ – David Allan Finch Sep 16 '13 at 14:16
  • \$\begingroup\$ @David Sure, up to you. They can still answer after you do. You have the option to leave it open to let them get them get some rep if you want to. \$\endgroup\$ – doppelgreener Sep 16 '13 at 14:16
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Phil was not directed at anyone specifically \$\endgroup\$ – David Allan Finch Sep 16 '13 at 14:18
  • \$\begingroup\$ But they can't can they duplicate answers are not allowed. \$\endgroup\$ – David Allan Finch Sep 16 '13 at 14:18
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    \$\begingroup\$ @David Since when weren't they allowed? The newbies can still provide a decent answer, and maybe it won't be as good as yours, or maybe they'll express the point better. Are you trying to prove some kid of point that people shouldn't do this or that it's wrong, when the staff have said multiple times we can and should? If you already know the answer, either you don't need to ask, or if it's a problem people have trouble with, they'll be grateful to see your answer (and you won't have to wait for someone to ask about it). This is a legitimate use of the system! Read those blog posts! \$\endgroup\$ – doppelgreener Sep 16 '13 at 14:21
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    \$\begingroup\$ Duplicate answers are downvoted because they're not useful, not removed. Duplicate answer that add nothing new and don't improve on existing answers are simply discouraged, not banned. But a new answer doesn't have to be a duplicate to be a new answer. It's entirely possible that a new answer will say in essence the same thing but say it 100x better -- we want that to happen! \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Sep 16 '13 at 17:39
  • \$\begingroup\$ Cool so what we are saying is; if you want as a newbie you can re-answer the question that the asker, asked and answered, but you risk down votes as your answer might be 'correct' but it was not the first or more shiny that the original askers. Wo Ho -2 now! If it was affecting my rep I would delete my answer. \$\endgroup\$ – David Allan Finch Sep 16 '13 at 18:57
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    \$\begingroup\$ @DavidAllanFinch Often it's not helpful to add new answers, but yeah, you can. Sometimes it's helpful, and the only way to tell is to do it and find out if people find it helpful. For a recent example of people giving new answers on a self-answered question, there's Does the Tiefling mutation manifest at a greater probability per child in later generations? \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Sep 16 '13 at 20:06

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