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I'm looking for some guidance or best practices on the situation where you've asked a question and already received one or more stellar answers.

On the one hand, as soon as one accepts an answer, the question is considered resolved. It's technically possible, but almost never observed in practice, to see a new answer to a "green" question (i.e. one with an accepted answer, which shows up green in the question feed). So you'd kinda like to delay accepting for a little while, not because you're expecting a better answer, just some new ones, offering different perspectives and data.

On the other hand, when someone posts an answer which not only answers the question, but does so in a comprehensive, detailed, well-researched and -cited, and often entertaining way, it's unlikely that any new answer will "supercede" it. So you know eventually you're going to accept it. And therefore witholding the tick seems kind of, I don't know, punitive? Or, if not that far, then impolite?

So it's a matter of a cut-off. After N hours / X days, etc, when does it start becoming discourteous to not accept a good answer? When do you, personally, start getting frustrated with an OP who hasn't accepted your (good, highly-voted, expert, etc etc) answer?

  • +1 Aren't discussions always opinion-based? Why is there a close-vote on this discussion? I don't understand how these earthlings think! – NVZ Mar 20 '16 at 17:57
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    @NVZ I had the same thought, but the best course of action is to not worry about it. If lots of people agree with the close-voter, then the community has spoken, and my question is off-topic. If no one agrees with him, then the vote is meaningless (and, it turns out, SE "ages away" old close-votes over time, if the question doesn't end up getting closed). Similarly for downvotes. Let the people speak. The system works. – Dan Bron Mar 20 '16 at 17:59
  • Oh, just in case anyone is having this thought: I am not asking this because I am waiting for anyone else to accept one of my answers, I asked this because I wanted to know how long I could wait before accepting sumelic's answer to my "horrible" question, without getting into "discourteous" territory (but I made it generic because I have this problem every time I ask a question which attracts a great answer). – Dan Bron Mar 20 '16 at 20:35
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I don't think you can define X for all situations. It partly depends on a few factors, such as:

  • How many other people have answered the question? (If only one or two people have answered the question, I think an O.P. has every right to wait awhile before accepting an answer.)

  • How much does your answer definitively answer the question? (A question asking "What does this mean?" can perhaps be answered quite definitively. However, a question asking, "What's a good word to describe this concept?" may elicit a lot of answers, any of which might work in a pinch, but perhaps none of them works as deftly as the O.P. had originally hoped.)

Not long ago, I had an answer accepted after about two weeks. But my answer was the only one given, and it wasn't necessarily a stellar answer. I didn't mind the wait.

Also worth noting: not everyone logs onto the Stack Exchange as frequently as many of us regulars do. Sometimes the onus is on the regular to be patient, rather than on the O.P. to be checking answers daily.

So it's a matter of a cut-off. After N hours / X days, etc, when does it start becoming discourteous to not accept a good answer?

If I had to pick a single value that could be held as a general guideline for all situations, I'd probably use a unit of weeks instead of hours or days. After 2 or 3 weeks, it's probably a good time to see if your question has gotten an answer worthy of a green checkmark. (Sooner that that would be okay, of course – but that's not what this meta question asks.)

Lastly, I'd rather have an O.P. select an answer after 10 days than after 10 hours. We are a global community. After 10 hours, half the planet hasn't even been awake long enough to look at the question. Every now and then, I've seen some pretty mediocre answers picked a bit too hastily for my tastes.

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    It's very rare for a new question to receive any new answers after three days let alone two or three weeks. One week would be my absolute tops. – Mari-Lou A Mar 20 '16 at 13:24
  • @Mari-LouA - I agree; barring a bounty of some kind, the question is unlikely to see much "action" after three or four days. That said, I wouldn't consider it "discourteous" to be left hanging for a couple weeks after that. – J.R. Mar 20 '16 at 15:26
  • I think this is a very reasonable approach. I would only add that if no acceptable answer has been given after a number of days, place a bounty on the question. That adds 7 days to the wait time, but may be worth it. – anongoodnurse Mar 20 '16 at 21:00
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As an answerer, I'd be happy to see a comment of appreciation in that situation, with a note to indicate whatever period of time the OP thinks is reasonable to keep the question open. At this point, it's mostly a matter of setting and managing expectations.

You can probably wait up to a day or so without posting a comment, though an immediate up-vote would not be out of place for a good answer.

For active users, given the number of questions answered at a sitting, the green tick is more of a bonus than something waited upon with bated breath :) .

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    Thanks! I always upvote all good answers to my questions immediately (not only for their content, but as a sign of gratitude for taking the time and effort to engage with me, a stranger from the Internet you've never met), though I recently I've had that agita about that too, because of the well-know "pile on" effect on SE, which means an early upvote on a good answer might eventually cause it to rise above a great answer, and I have no ability to "double upvote" a great answer. – Dan Bron Mar 19 '16 at 17:43
  • For that reason among a couple others, personally I often covet the green tick from a well-informed OP more than a pile of +1s from the anonymous masses. But you do have a good point about just leaving a comment that so far I like this answer best among the options, and unless something better comes along, I will accept it in N hours / X days. Though I worry that will exacerbate the pile-on effect, especially once the answerer upvotes the comment, and others upvote his upvote... – Dan Bron Mar 19 '16 at 17:43
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    @DanBron The green tick is certainly satisfying after putting in a whole lot of work. As for the up-votes, I suppose that's the thing about any kind of voting - votes are either limited or they're undemocratic. The bar is low here, so if the answer's 'useful', go for it :) . You always have the green tick to boost the answerer's rep afterwards. Also, although it's official policy to not have "thanks" in comments, a word of appreciation for good runners up can go a long way. – Lawrence Mar 19 '16 at 17:48
  • As for the pile-on effect, (1) it comes with the territory to some extent, and (2) you'll just have to trust other voters to think before they vote. This is a recreational activity to many of us, so it's not exactly something to agonise over (at least not too much). On the other hand, I think that when we do vote, we should do so deliberately. – Lawrence Mar 19 '16 at 17:58
  • FYI, my acceptance policy on Meta is different: unless there's overwhelming consensus on a topic which justifies nominating some answer as "established policy", I am leery of accepting any answer, to avoiding giving that impression incorrectly. – Dan Bron Mar 19 '16 at 21:42
  • Ok. Here's my take on this: 1. meta acceptance is only meaningful between the OP and the answerer. An accepted answer on meta simply means that the OP accepted it - not that it is site policy. 2. Votes count a lot more on that score because the green tick is just a single opinion - that of the OP; someone with a different opinion on a polarising issue could just as easily have accepted an opposite answer. 3. Just as mods' votes are binding, mods' answers reflect site policy more closely than even a highly-voted answer. 4. Ordinary users can request change, but only mods give it effect. – Lawrence Mar 20 '16 at 1:02
  • @DanBron I just re-read my comment and feel that it comes across awkwardly. Please read it as my acknowledgement of your comment (re: my cryptic 'Ok') + a summary of my own opinion on the same topic. – Lawrence Mar 20 '16 at 3:04
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    Thanks, it didn't seem awkward to me. I appreciate the feedback. – Dan Bron Mar 20 '16 at 8:03

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