I just scrolled to the end of the list of Unanswered questions, which seems unexpectedly long to me.

Back when I was new to ELU, this Meta question said there were only two unanswered questions at the time. So far as I knew until just now, things hadn't changed significantly since then.

I'm not exactly sure what "unanswered" means, but it definitely doesn't mean no answer has been posted, because some of the questions on that list have answers. So I'm guessing it either means they have: (1) - no answers with upvotes; or (2) - no accepted answer.

If it's the former, perhaps some of you might like to check them out and either upvote an answer, or provide an answer you think others could upvote if you don't endorse anything currently there.

If the latter, perhaps some of those questioners have simply breezed through ELU and are never going to return and accept an answer. In which case maybe the mods could do some tidying up.

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    Answers without positive scores don't count as "answers" for the purpose of unanaswered questions. I don't know if a 0-score accepted answer counts as an answer. Commented Jun 6, 2013 at 21:11
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    @Monica: Thanks for that info. Actually, I'm mainly posting this comment so I can record here that at time of writing there are 157 "unanswered" questions. At some point in the future I might look at this issue again, and it would be nice to know which direction things have moves in. Not that it seems to be much of an issue to others, given the question has only picked up one upvote and one downvote thus far (I'll probably upvote/answer/closevote some myself over the next few weeks, but I ain't volunteering to do "latrine duty" for the whole site! :) Commented Jun 6, 2013 at 23:14
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    Two hours later, there's 113 with no upvoted answers. Commented Jun 7, 2013 at 1:27
  • Now there's 80. Commented Jun 7, 2013 at 15:40
  • Ha ha... there's no answer to this meta-question.
    – Mitch
    Commented Jun 7, 2013 at 20:03
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    It's a meta-answer. Commented Jun 7, 2013 at 20:50
  • I just clicked on my "Unanswered questions" link above, and it told me there was nothing there! I was seriously impressed for a moment - until I realised that my link was to Page 4 four of the list. There are only actually 137 unanswered questions right now, so at 50 per page that's only 3 pages. I've changed the link to point to the first page, not the last. Commented Jun 8, 2013 at 14:53
  • Some of the questions are answered in comments. That is, someone gave a comment that is essentially an answer. I expect people see that it is a viable answer but don't want to take credit for it by making an answer out of it (in a sense stealing credit it from the original author).
    – Mitch
    Commented Jun 8, 2013 at 15:01
  • @Mitch: When I'm looking through them myself, if I find there's an adequate answer in a comment, I'll probably cut & paste it into a Community Wiki answer. Commented Jun 8, 2013 at 15:17
  • math.SE has 18,199!! Questsions just disappear into the aether never to be seen again.
    – Lucas
    Commented Jun 16, 2013 at 5:26

1 Answer 1


If I may suggest an explanation to the problem, which has probably been discussed earlier but I am very "new" so I apologize if I am raking up something which is "old" news.

A lot of these unanswered questions are posed by people whose native language is not English, nothing wrong with that. However, they seem to disappear from the community (if that's the right word) after a very short time. Their questions dangling in space, forever. Some users may have indeed answered the OP's question out of a genuine sense of camaraderie or because they didn't have the answer at their fingertips but enjoy doing the research itself (I am the latter). Yet, it is unlikely they will be "rewarded" for their efforts. The hope being that someone else might appreciate the effort sometime n the future.

But I feel there is a risk of not seeing "good" answers because the questions were either poorly formulated or because the Original Poster vanished never to return. Upvotes are very few compared to two years ago, from my tiny research, perhaps that is also a deterrent for new users? Maybe there should be more down votes made by moderators? It's not pleasant, I admit, to be down voted, I've been a "victim" myself and I was left asking: Why? Why, me?! :)

Sorry for going off topic.

Might the reason be for many OPs disappearances be because their native language is NOT English and so wading through the posts, getting a feel what and how EL&U works may seem a waste of time or simply too daunting hence they ask, they read the answer(s) and just leave. Should the one or two answered posts be deleted after a period of grace?

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    Not being a native speaker, I often feel frustrated that I can't answer most questions. And those few that I could answer are always answered by someone else before I get the chance to do so. However, I have given myself the task to go through answered questions (whether the OP has accepted one or not) and upvote the answers I feel deserve it. Perhaps the problem are the users who want to be given an answer and don't realise they have to accept an answer. Commented Jun 8, 2013 at 13:43
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    @Sara: Perhaps you'd consider signing up for English Language Learners. It probably has more questions that you can answer, and less other people who might answer before you. More importantly, answers from non-native speakers can often be more highly-valued on ELL because they're more likely to see things from the OP's perspective (that's always provided they're correct, obviously! :) Commented Jun 8, 2013 at 15:01
  • +1 As another newbie, I agree. It seems to me that (1) 'Unanswered' questions with no useful comments or answers should be removed periodically; (2) those with useful comments/answers should be 'accepted' somehow other than by the original poster, as they are only 'notionally' unanswered in that no answer has formally been accepted by the OP.
    – TrevorD
    Commented Jun 11, 2013 at 12:32
  • @TrevorD: I think it's been established that SO only classifies a question as "unanswered" if it has no upvoted answers. So if other users are assiduous enough to go through the unanswered list and upvote something for each question, it doesn't really matter if the OP never comes back and "accepts" an answer. Commented Jun 16, 2013 at 14:39
  • @fumble then there are questions (of varying qualities) like this that go for more than a year, garnering 2k+ views without a single answer. Shouldn't they expire somehow if nobody's giving a helpful answer, especially if they don't conform to the guidelines?
    – Conrado
    Commented Jul 26, 2020 at 3:17
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    @Conrado: I've just downvoted both question and answer, which after a "refresh" allowed me to also vote to "delete" the answer. Plus I've got enough rep to vote to close the question. It might be a while before you have enough rep to do the same as me there, but you can certainly downvote. I'm not sure, but if you downvote the question, I might then be able to delete-vote it. (Perhaps working together we can push this particular cuckoo out of the ELU nest! :) Commented Jul 26, 2020 at 17:37
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    @fumble I dved both too, and do hereby my self commit to do so in the future where merited. Cheers!
    – Conrado
    Commented Jul 26, 2020 at 18:07

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