I've noticed that there are some users on EL&U who ask many questions, but rarely (or never) accept any of the answers given.

It appears that I am not the only one who regards such behaviour as a poor way of acknowledging the effort that others have made to research and craft a good answer. Recently, Janus Bahs Jacquet posted this pertinent comment under one question:

If you feel any of the answers given adequately answers your question, you should choose it as the accepted answer. If not, you should edit your post to clarify what is lacking. Accepting an answer is a good way, in addition to votes, of helping future readers judge the merits of an answer. Currently, only three of your 15 asked questions have accepted answers; you should consider being more proactive in accepting what you feel is the best answer given when you ask a question.

This brings me to my suggestion.

This is that once a person has asked more than (say) twenty questions, the system should block them from asking any more until they have accepted answers for at least one third of the questions they have already posed.

I feel that my suggested thresholds:

  • adequately allow for the likelihood that not all questions will elicit answers that are good enough to be accepted
  • also acknowledge the fact that if they are good, a substantial proportion of questions will almost inevitably receive some good answers
  • will motivate querents to improve their prior questions so that they subsequently attract better answers. This will also improve the overall reference value of the EL&U's Q&A repository.

What do others think?

  • Hmm. I feel sure there should be other tags for this, but there doesn't appear to be anything obvious with "question", "answer" or "accept". But do you think this would be better as a "feature-request" so it and answers can show the community's opinion of your suggestion directly?
    – Andrew Leach Mod
    Commented Jan 21, 2015 at 7:37
  • @AndrewLeach - Good idea. I have followed your suggestion.
    – Erik Kowal
    Commented Jan 21, 2015 at 8:05
  • See this SEDE query's results.
    – tchrist Mod
    Commented Jan 22, 2015 at 13:37
  • Retracted downvote
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Aug 19, 2015 at 4:12
  • I find great irony in the absence of accepted answer to this question
    – Irhala
    Commented Dec 1, 2016 at 11:05

5 Answers 5


I have asked 28 questions on EL&U and have accepted answers to 5 of them (including one just now), so I would be barred from asking further questions under the proposed one-third acceptance rule—or indeed, under a one-fifth acceptance rule—a result that I would find very disappointing.

I'd like to think that the reason I've seemingly been so ungenerous with answer acceptance is that the questions I ask tend to be difficult to answer in a way that clearly and fully disposes of the question. I do greatly appreciate the thought and effort that most answerers put into their responses to my questions, and I try to be free with my upvoting of such responses—but to me, accepting an answer means saying that the matter is settled, and often I think it isn't.

Everyone likes to have answers accepted, but I oppose the idea of pressuring questioners to accept answers by making the privilege of asking future questions contingent on meeting a minimum acceptance quota. I'm not asking for a special dispensation or for the establishment of some sort of multiple-criterion test of question worthiness that might allow my answer acceptance record to avoid being subjected to the full force of the rule. I'm asking that answerers simply view answer acceptance as a completely voluntary bonus that question askers are under no obligation to provide.

  • 1
    "to me, accepting an answer means saying that the matter is settled". This is the issue...what does or should mean to OPs to accept answers? I have a less restrictive view on accepting an answer.... in the end it is a personal issue. I also wonder if new users are generally aware of the fact that the can accept an answer!!
    – user66974
    Commented Jan 21, 2015 at 10:34
  • 2
    Indeed, I have accepted an answer to a question that really isn't a viable answer to the question, but it was closest enough for an answer. I probably shouldn't have, but still...
    – SrJoven
    Commented Jan 21, 2015 at 15:41
  • 1
    As I recall, the UI used to show "percentage acceptance rate" in the OP's identity panel on each question. And people sometimes used to complain at established users with low acceptance rates. But they've now removed what I always thought was a fairly pointless piece of information. Almost by definition, the OP doesn't fully understand whatever he's querying, so he's hardly the best person to identify the best answer. That task falls to the large number of voters on the site (many of whom we hope will be better judges of good answers that the actual person who asked). Commented Jan 21, 2015 at 18:24
  • 6
    Thanks for some good points above. FF commented: "Almost by definition, the OP doesn't fully understand whatever he's querying, so he's hardly the best person to identify the best answer". That implicitly puts into question the validity of the answer acceptance mechanism: if the OP is unqualified to know the best answer, then what's the point of encouraging them to accept one at all? On the other hand, good answers should expand the OP's knowledge base and hence their ability to discriminate. So that point can be argued in two directions. The question is, which direction is more persuasive?
    – Erik Kowal
    Commented Jan 21, 2015 at 19:06
  • @ErikKowal Who is being persuaded? Casual viewer who doesn't understand why one answer gets 250+ votes but the accepted answer gets 40? I stopped myself from suggesting a (because it was redundant to high votes, that's why) community accepted answer for highest voted answer. (Magical floating 15 points doesn't make sense.) I just don't see accepted answer being that important in the grand scheme of things, unless it's a SWR, then yes, definitely.
    – SrJoven
    Commented Jan 23, 2015 at 14:41
  • 1
    What says you in the case of a user who never casts a vote, who never accepts an answer? P.S I'm trying to bump this question to the front page but because it was so heavily downvoted, the question only appears if you click on the question tab.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Aug 19, 2015 at 4:25
  • 3
    @Mari-LouA: I think it borders on ingratitude not to upvote thoughtful answers to one's questions. As an inveterate answerer on this site, I'm well aware of the effort that goes into trying to provide a useful, thorough, and coherent answer to a challenging question. I'm actually something of an extremist in considering upvotes far more beneficial than downvotes to the quality of the site's content; I suspect that we as a community are probably far too parsimonious in acknowledging answers that add something useful to the discussion of interesting questions. ...
    – Sven Yargs
    Commented Aug 19, 2015 at 6:25
  • 5
    ...But I am less concerned about whether EL&U participants exercise their voting rights than about whether the questions and answers they submit strengthen and enrich the site, or not. So if the person who has submitted 50 questions has asked good questions, that is his valuable contribution to the site—whether he cares about the point scoring system or not. Again, I strongly endorse upvoting as a sign of appreciation for worthwhile effort; but I don't think it should be obligatory. To me, receiving downvotes for a painstaking answer is a lot more disheartening than not receiving upvotes.
    – Sven Yargs
    Commented Aug 19, 2015 at 6:38
  • 1
    "I'd like to think that the reason I've seemingly been so ungenerous with answer acceptance is that the questions I ask tend to be difficult to answer in a way that clearly and fully disposes of the question. I do greatly appreciate the thought and effort that most answerers put into their responses to my questions, and I try to be free with my upvoting of such responses—but to me, accepting an answer means saying that the matter is settled, and often I think it isn't." I think this says more about you than about the quality of the responses, unfortunately. Commented Aug 20, 2015 at 6:17
  • Rest assured that if the questions were of any substantial level, users would have been moaning long before. In neither of the two users I mentioned in my answer were their questions "good", the highest number of upvotes received on any one of the fifty questions posted is 5. The number of downvotes outnumber the upvoted ones.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Aug 21, 2015 at 6:27

Six months ago I downvoted the OP, believing we shouldn't be pressurized into doing something we didn't feel comfortable with. As long as there was some give and take between askers and answerers, I saw no real problem. If a user posts ten questions in a row but doesn't accept any answer because he or she disagrees with the answers submitted. What's wrong with that? It's a free country, or maybe I should say community. As long as that same user leaves some sort of feedback, in the way of comments; answers; questions; and casts + and - votes, that user is an integral part of the community. He or she shouldn't be made to feel ashamed or embarrassed by their not wanting to accept an answer at all cost.

But there are exceptions to the rule. And I've come across that exception.

There is one user who has asked FIFTY questions; and not once, has the user ever accepted an answer. In the 2 years and 11 months this user has been a member of EL&U, only one vote has been cast. One vote. This information is visible to anyone who visits that person's “activity” page.

Frankly, I don't understand this person's behaviour. The first two times I left comments encouraging the said user to actively participate. I suggested that if he or she was unsatisfied with the answers submitted, to leave a comment explaining why. I thought that maybe the user was ignorant about the voting system, about how to accept an answer. I suggested/explained how to accept an answer. In return? Complete and utter silence. I then became more aggressive and challenging, reminding visitors of the user's appalling track record. Still silence from the OP. A few days later the same user formulates a new question wherein he/she pleads to the community for help: “Please, give me the answer”

Three users respond, one of the answers is from a very high-rep user. I'm not saying the OP had to accept any of the answers posted, but at least cast a bloody vote, mate!

And if after three years and FIFTY questions asked (not counting the ones deleted) only one vote is cast, how is this a valued member? Perhaps in extreme cases such as these, maybe they should receive a warning. Maybe a rule could be enforced whereby all users with voting privileges, must cast a minimum of one vote per day, it doesn't matter whether it's a downvote or an upvote, casting even a single vote is giving something back to the community.

Well, that's how I see it...


I stumbled upon another user who has posted fourteen FIFTEEN questions and never accepted an answer, or cast a vote. But this user is relatively a newcomer, so I'll let him/her off the hook for the time being.


Newcomer finally accepted an answer—an important token of gratitude—hooray!

  • It's not a bug. Questions of -4 or lower score (or some such negative score) are not shown on the site front page. They are only listed when you explicitly choose to look at Questions. At -10, this question is well outside the limit.
    – Andrew Leach Mod
    Commented Aug 18, 2015 at 22:01
  • @AndrewLeach I had no idea! Wow! Thank you for the clarification.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Aug 18, 2015 at 22:09
  • 1
    I've upvoted your response, which makes a number of good points. However, I would not be in favour of compelling all those with voting privileges to use them on a daily basis; life events, as in my case recently, are liable to intervene at times and make it difficult or impractical to visit the site regularly.
    – Erik Kowal
    Commented Aug 24, 2015 at 20:03
  • Hello @ErikKowal how are you?! Yes, real life has a habit of intervening, but I'm speaking of one single click of the mouse, see a good or bad answer, one click, and you're done for the next 24 hours. I hope you didn't mind my edit, it's usually the other way round.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Aug 24, 2015 at 20:11
  • What I meant is that it is usually ErikKowall who kindly corrects my punctuation, fixes poor expressions etc.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Oct 30, 2015 at 22:14
  • I've posted a few questions and not accepted answers. I haven't accepted because the answers weren't complete, didn't address the questions or in my opinion weren't satisfying. Commented Oct 31, 2015 at 0:35
  • 1
    "Maybe a rule could be enforced whereby all users with voting privileges, must cast a minimum of one vote per day," "...One single click of the mouse every 24 hours..." I can't imagine anyone for whom this site takes priority over work, taking care of a sick spouse, going on a vacation (which for me means disconnecting), coping with the effects of a hurricane or....you get the idea. A rule of one vote every 24 hours sounds like bed check in a 19th century girls' school.
    – ab2
    Commented Oct 31, 2015 at 15:24
  • @ab2 only when you logon, if you have the time to browse through EL&U, post a comment, answer a question why not a single click? How difficult is it to upvote one single answer or question? Anyway each to his own.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Nov 1, 2015 at 1:00
  • 1
    @Mari-Lou Wasn't clear you meant only when you logon. That makes it much more reasonable. But is it wise to make what should be a pleasure into a duty for everyone because of a few? I'm interested to know how you feel about my suggestion of a prompt for accepting, say 96 hours (or whenever) after a question is posted? See below. Is it practical...desireable....
    – ab2
    Commented Nov 1, 2015 at 1:58

There is an annoying side-effect of all these questions without accepted answers: When a question goes without an accepted answer for a period of time "Community" marks the question newly modified to bring it to the top of the list.

If the question really needs attention this is OK, but probably 75% of the time the question has decent answers but none have been accepted, and a (typically) meaningless question is resurrected as a "zombie", often attracting meaningless additional activity, and definitely creating an annoyance.

If steps are not made to further encourage closing questions, this behavior of "Community" needs to be somehow changed.

  • 3
    I think this only happens if there are both no accepted and no upvoted answers. So you can prevent these questions from returning by either upvoting an existing answer (if it deserves it) or by writing a good answer yourself. (Edit: see this Meta SE post: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/238037/…)
    – herisson
    Commented Oct 30, 2015 at 21:53

I suggest a prompt to the OP if he/she has not accepted an answer after, say, 96 hours. I recently got a prompt from Great Outdoors Exchange, as I was upvoting some answers, reminding me that I hadn't upvoted any questions recently. I found it a ,useful reminder.

I think a significant portion of the non-acceptances are because people don't know about accepting (you can't really expect people to read the guidelines!) or even forget they have posted a question.

Then there are the people who don't give a s__t. I don't know what to do about them.

Finally, there are cases as Yargs said, where no answer is a complete answer. My personal opinion is that a thoughtful, good answer that advances the OPs knowledge should be accepted. An upvote is not enough. Pat the dog in addition to giving him a bone.


The Stackexchange design philosophy tends more towards the carrot than the stick. That is, the emphasis is that desirable behavior is awarded, and undesirable behavior is hoped to be not awarded.

So the solution here would probably be to award accepting an answer (with something small like 1 pt rep), rather than to award negative rep. But such an award seems too much, so this will probably not go over well.

Or maybe a bronze badge for going above a certain percentage of accepted answers?

  • 1
    Doesn't an OP get 2 points for accepting an answer already? But I agree with carrot rather than stick.
    – ab2
    Commented Oct 31, 2015 at 22:33

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