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DISCLAIMER: This post is merely seeking others' opinions (and whether I was indeed wrong). I am not out to get anyone.

Hello, fellow linguists. I come here with a slight dilemma pertaining to a comment by yours truly.

This question was asked by a new user, and the OP seemed able to resolve his question fairly quickly. This was indicated to me by the fact that he had taken a user's commswer (yes, I just coined that word for a comment-answer), quoted it and posted it as an answer. I commented on the OP's answer to welcome them and provide some (what I saw as) helpful guidance for the future. My comment read:

Hi [OP's name] and welcome to ELU! If you feel that your question has been answered, you should mark it as solved by awarding a green tick. It doesn't matter if it's on your own answer.

Today I opened my ELU inbox to find a reply to my comment from another user that read (please excuse the blasphemy):

Jesus H Christ @doglover 16 hours haven't even elapsed yet. Selecting an answer greatly lessens the chances of a question getting other, possibly more useful, answers.

My first impression was not great - as a Christian, I did not like to hear such blasphemy. But I definitely took the advice and considered that I had indeed been wrong.

I responded (and, at the time of writing this, do not have a reply):

Three things: 1) Please don't blaspheme. 2) That may be so, but I only commented because the fact that the OP answered their own question indicates to me that they are content with the input they received. Furthermore, the tick is not permanent; it can be changed at any time. 3) The OP is a new user, so I wanted to welcome them and help them for the future. There's no COI since it's not my answer, and nowhere did I say that the OP had to do it immediately. There's no guarantee I could have commented the same thing 16 hours later - the post would probably have disappeared from my feed.

Of course, I'm not writing this to make enemies - I just want to know whether I'm in the wrong. The above comment is my explanation, so any thoughts on that would be appreciated.

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    Both comments are noise - nagging people to accept answers doesn't actually improve the site for anyone. But Clare's comment was far worse. – curiousdannii Jul 22 '17 at 6:33
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    @curiousdannii I can see what you mean by 'noise' and 'nagging', but I don't think that in this instance either could necessarily be applied. I was not - and had no reason to be - nagging, since the answer had no effect on me; it was just what I saw as being a good community member by helping new users with the site's processes. And secondly, I agree that had the user not been new, it could have been noise. But I think it is important to help and welcome new users, as it is what ultimately encourages and helps them to build their reputation and subsequent (hopefully) respect. – Dog Lover Jul 22 '17 at 6:44
  • Users will learn at their own pace how to use the site. The accept button is pretty big and prominent, it's not a hidden feature by any measure. – curiousdannii Jul 22 '17 at 6:46
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    When I was new to the site, I appreciated welcoming comments and took on board comments that explained rules, closures, expectations, etc. Those comments helped me to get where I am now, and taught me a lot about StackExchange. – Dog Lover Jul 22 '17 at 6:46
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    I find the blasphemy off-putting as well. I second the call to flag it and then ignore that portion of the comment. Your own comment to the OP was well-intentioned and nicely worded. Adding an extra sentence about waiting a day or two might have been good in hindsight, but if someone's happy enough with an answer to their question to make their own answer out of it, it's a justifiable green-tick. – Lawrence Jul 22 '17 at 8:06
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    @Lawrence Thank you. It's good to see that I'm not the only one who found the comment a bit untoward. I'll keep it in mind to suggest waiting in similar future comments. – Dog Lover Jul 22 '17 at 8:12
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    Given that it was a self answer, the OP cannot accept it until 48 hours after the question was asked anyway. – Laurel Jul 23 '17 at 19:49
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Let's ignore the "blasphemy" thing for a second.

Nobody is wrong here, technically.

You guided the OP on how to accept an answer and why that's a good thing. Accepted answers indicate that the problem is solved, but in this case, OP posting their own answer itself was an indication that the problem is solved. So, here, accepting one wasn't really that important.

The other user meant to let you know that it's best to delay accepting an answer, and they're right too. When people see an accepted answer, they tend to ignore the question and move on. If we delay accepting, we'll probably get some better answers.

Now, back to the "blasphemy". Your first thought should be to look past that and focus on the actual message. If the comment was intentionally very offensive, do flag their comments as "rude or abusive". Never directly respond to the tone of their comments; that never helps anyone.

  • Thanks for your answer. I agree with what the other user is saying, but I think the tone of their message is what put me off a bit. (Also, I did look past the blasphemy; it was just a bit of a sidenote saying that it affected the tone of the message and was the first thing I noticed.) Sort of akin to, 'Wow, is what I did really that bad?' The tone seemed to be frustration mixed with "you should know better", and I think it could have been worded in a much more approachable and friendly way. – Dog Lover Jul 22 '17 at 6:22
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    @DogLover well, here's my take on that. Never expect people to respect you. Ignore the tone of their words and accept whatever useful information comes out of it. – NVZ Jul 22 '17 at 6:28
  • I suppose that is the unfortunate reality. Thank you for the advice. – Dog Lover Jul 22 '17 at 6:40
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    I make Richard Dawkins look like a religious fanatic, but I would not have been able to ignore the tone of that comment. This is English Language and Usage, and we should assume that native speakers are saying exactly what they mean, and they mean it to sound exactly as it sounds. @Dog Lover did not give the best advice, which would have been to advise the OP to ask MorganFR to write an answer, but the blasting he got was way over the line. – ab2 Jul 22 '17 at 14:58
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Personally speaking, even as somebody who cares more about writing an answer convincingly enough to be accepted than I do for it to be highly voted upon by more people, I do not like the practice of advising O.P. on how to accept answers, unless they learn about the feature, can not quite figure out how to do it on their own, and elicit the advice.

This is because otherwise, any unsolicited advice comes with the all too strong implication that the commentator would like to see an answer accepted. Although they are not required to act upon this promting, the peer pressure may actually lead the questioner to accept an answer which does not actually serve the purpose of acceptance, which is to indicate what answer works best for them. The acceptance rate feature was removed especially for the purpose of removing peer pressure to accept questions.

Another indication that this might have been done too soon is also found in the guidelines for accepting answers. If you write an answer to your own question, it can not be accepted until 48 hours after it is made, to give us the opportunity to write what may be an even better and more appreciable answer. Not even half of that time had ellapsed before you gave the advice. This limitation exists even while knowing that the questioner may have enough confidence in their knowledge of the matter to publish their answer alongside their question simultaneously, which can be done by using the checkbox which allows you to do so.

There is no rush, or even a requirement to accept answers, and I think what serves the purpose of Acceptance best is if we give our questioners the fullest opportunity to consider which answers really are the best ones in their opinion. Even if this means some users never end up learning how to accept answers, I think this is a lesser malady than training our newer members to accept answers incorrectly, as the checkmark loses more and more of its significance every time it is applied as a mere formality. Such a decision can never be given too much consideration in my opinion, but it is all too easy to develop a thoughtless habit which does not give the matter enough of it.

Finally, if I recall correctly, I think even the malady of people never learning to accept answers might actually have a formalized reminder built into the system already, in which case I think the advice is practically needless anyway. In this case, people will accept answers eventually, if they really want to do so.

  • +1 Fair enough. – Dog Lover Jul 24 '17 at 22:25
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The odds of my replying to you sooner would have been greater had not my comment disappeared and that without explanation. And my reply would have been a link to the "Questanswer" by J.R. over at English Language Learners meta, which gives a far more thorough reply than I could have come up with. Though it's on our daughter (sister?) site, I think the points it makes are applicable here, perhaps especially when a new user is the questioner.

Not so fast! (When should I accept my answer?). I've used the phrase Questanswer because the question contains remarkable reasoning for waiting at least 24 hours before selecting an answer, and mentions 48 hours. The sun never sleeps on the potential answerers to ELU/ELL questions, but at least one turn of the earth around the sun allows everybody a chance to see and possibly respond to the question.

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    Thanks for your input, Clare. I believe that your comment 'disappeared ... without explanation' because it had collected three flags. – Dog Lover Jul 24 '17 at 22:28
  • You know what @doglover your question here says it seeks an answer but seems to me you could have asked it without reference to the phrase in question, instead repeating what you call Blasphemy and thereby being blasphemous yourself and having many more people exposed to such sacrilege. – AmE speaker Jul 25 '17 at 3:13
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    Please do elaborate on how I have not sought an answer. – Dog Lover Jul 25 '17 at 3:53
  • Sometimes in the heat of the moment, we say things that we later regret. – Mari-Lou A Jul 26 '17 at 4:40

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