According to these posts and their answers, accepting an answer is the OP's role because he is the one who can decide if an answer has reached his standard.

However, I too have seen questions without accepted answers, with no apparent reason not to accept an answer.

This would be completely fine in the case of an ambiguous topic, or unsufficient answers, but there are cases where the post is left to rot without an accepted answer. Future users might feel unsure about a perfectly valid answer because it's not accepted, and could even ask the question again only to see their question marked as duplicate.

Upvoting a good answer may help, but sometimes the best answers are not the most popular, especially on old posts.

I think giving high-rep. users the ability to vote-accept an answer some time after the question was asked (something like a month) would help both the reputation system and clear the "Unanswered Questions" list of question that already have accurate answers and the future readers.

Of course, the OP would still be the strongest on that matter, and can decide to unaccept that answer and accept an other at his will.

What do you think ?

Edit : Thanks to Rathony's answer, I do see the negative sides of such change. Being able to tell the difference between the asker's choice (accept) and the community's choice (upvotes) is indeed important.

But when the asker is mute, I see no harm in the community being able to choose for him, as long as it seems to fit the problem.

As Andrew Leach said, restricting this ability to questions asked by users who might not have grasped the concept of accepting answers yet could be a good idea. Having less than 300 rep. in a month is a sign of being a drive-by single-issue user.

Also, I wrongfully used moderator while I wanted to mean high-rep. users, so I've edited that in the above title and texts (along with the formatting).

Edit 2 : I'm also talking about that kind of questions :

Idiom for making fun of something people are ashamed of?

  • 1
    Is having an answer chosen that important. I often see accepted answers that are plain wrong or just not as good as others because the OP is just not in the best place to be an official judge. But no matter; acceptance is only the lightest extra bit about one answer.
    – Mitch
    Dec 1 '16 at 16:53
  • @Mitch That's a good point, but I think it is. In most cases, an user looking for answers on someone else's question will look at the first answer. If it fulfills his needs, there's no reason for him to go further. Having the best answer as the accepted one is a way to make good information easier to reach.
    – Irhala
    Dec 1 '16 at 17:00
  • Of course, there are the ones who won't be satisfied by only one answer. But that's not the case for everyone.
    – Irhala
    Dec 1 '16 at 17:01
  • What makes you think the linked question in your edit is relevant? Because it was not accepted?
    – user140086
    Dec 2 '16 at 16:56
  • @Rathony Well, if there was an accepted answer, it wouldn't be relevant. But it's also because (1) the question is quite clear, (2) there's a lot of answers which seem to be both accurate and well structured, and (3) the only (remaining?) comment from the asker is a critic on an answer, which probably means the asker didn't bother coming back once he got the answer he wanted
    – Irhala
    Dec 2 '16 at 17:30
  • On the contrary, the asker's profile shows questions with accepted answers, which means he does know how it works
    – Irhala
    Dec 2 '16 at 17:32
  • @Irhala That doesn't necessarily mean he should accept one of the answers to that question. It's his right and nobody can force him to do anything. Please don't 'edit your question further.
    – user140086
    Dec 2 '16 at 17:42

No. It's best to leave the decision to the OP and users including moderators here can upvote useful and clear answers with research. You need to note that there are many new users who post a question and don't even bother to come back to read their answers and don't accept an answer because they don't now how to accept it. There are some sites where some moderators and experienced users post a comment to encourage new OPs to accept an answer, but ELU is not one of them.

The question has been asked and answered more than a few times on Meta SE.

Moderators accepting answers on user's behalf after a certain time period

Feature request: moderator ability to accept an answer

@Troggy answers:

No, this is a user-oriented site.

It is intended to answer people's questions. They know their problem the best and know what solves it for them. We need to leave it up to them to accept whatever answer they want.

@blahdiblah answers:

Accepting an answer is meant to indicate only "this solved my problem". If the user who asked the question is AWOL, then there's no way to determine if the given answer solved their problem.

If an answer is good, it should garner upvotes regardless of whether the question asker is around.

I once thought about asking Stack Exchange to give moderators the right to change the accepted answer when it is obviously wrong, but decided not to after reading those linked questions and answers.

Please make sure you upvote and downvote when you see a post depending on its research, usefulness and clearness.

A side note: If a question has an upvoted answer, it will clear the "Unanswered Questions" list. In other words, unaccepted questions are not the only criteria to be listed in "Unanswered Questions".

  • +1. Even though I disagree (see my edits), these points are important. Also, I should've thought of Meta SE instead of searching on Meta EL&U only.
    – Irhala
    Dec 1 '16 at 13:45
  • @Irhala Thanks for the upvote. I basically agree to Andrew's suggestion (+1), but to implement it, it will take a lot of time and effort. The question is would it be worth it? I will vote for it if it is suggested on Meta SE which you should consider.
    – user140086
    Dec 1 '16 at 13:52
  • I'll consider it if my question gains in popularity. EL&U seems to be one of the SE that would get the most out of this, so being ignored here means it wouldn't be useful anywhere else
    – Irhala
    Dec 1 '16 at 14:37
  • @Irhala I forgot to mention one thing and it is in the side note at the bottom of my answer.
    – user140086
    Dec 1 '16 at 14:40

It's an interesting idea, which as Rathony has pointed out has been discussed before.

I would not be happy with only moderators having this unilateral ability. But if it could be implemented in a similar way to other votes like voting to close (five votes from 3000-rep users) or voting to delete (three votes from 10k users), then it may be a useful way of foiling the Community user's bumping of questions, which can be unhelpful.

It might be restricted to questions asked by a user with less than 300 reputation or who has accepted fewer than five answers. Once a user has reached 300 rep or accepted five answers he might be expected to know how the system works and the community shouldn't have to work it for him.

As long as the OP still has the ability to undo the acceptance and/or change his choice, I don't see a problem with the community making the choice for him after a period of time.

So: I would put some meat on the proposal in the question...

An answer becomes eligible to be accepted by the community on behalf of the asker if...

  • the answer is a month old and
  • the question asker has less than 300 rep or has accepted fewer than five answers in total

An answer would be accepted by the community if...

  • five members with more than 3000 rep have voted for that (like closure) or
  • one moderator votes for it

The asker always has the ability to unaccept the answer, or to accept another answer, as he does at present.

The asker does not receive the +2 rep for accepting an answer where it's done on his behalf (but other rep changes work as now: the answerer does get the +15 accept bonus, and the asker would get the +2 if he did his own acceptance).

However, I suspect that as a tweak to mitigate the effect of drive-by single-issue posters, it would be rather too much work. It would be useful to sites where there is a disproportionately-high number of such drive-by users, though: ELU is one such.


I agree that no one but the OP should be able to set the current acceptance mark.

A possibility would be an acceptance check mark in another color to indicate an answer that has been accepted by community vote. That could be an extension to what Andrew wrote in his answer. That way the community could mark an answer as accepted only in case the original poster did not do so.

There would be some advantages to a community accept over simple max votes top. It could act as counterweight to highly up voted popular but not necessarily high quality answer to questions that hit the hot network list.

Such an community accept could be seen as an valued by experts since it is by definition only granted to answers that a few high reputation users have chosen to honor. Of course that would be another sinkhole where the more active users spend time on and I am not sure that the benefit of such a community accept - especially if only answers that fulfill certain prerequisites - would outweigh the additional effort people have to invest.

Anyhow that is a discussion for meta.se not elu.meta.

  • +1. The differently colored acceptance check mark looks like a great compromise
    – Irhala
    Dec 1 '16 at 19:32

No, I don't think anyone but the OP should have the acceptance privilege.

But I too am frustrated by questions with good answers, none of which have been accepted. It is just common courtesy to acknowledge and reward the work that many people have done to answer your question. The reasons for not accepting could be ignorance on the part of new users, laziness, inconsiderateness, or forgetfulness. And, rarely, no answer satisfies the OP, in which case the OP should say so and clarify his question.

What might help is an automatic prompt to accept after, say, two or three weeks.

There are unaccepted answers to questions by OPs with experience enough to know about acceptance; these questions often have many good answers. The OP has probably just forgotten -- people do have other things to think about than ELU. In one case, I am tempted to send a reminder comment to the OP myself, but have not done so because I have the answer with by far the most upvotes (99) and I don't want to be pushy. (I'm also hoping to get that 100th vote, which is more likely if the question is not marked as having an accepted answer.)

  • 2
    A reminder will be a great solution.
    – user140086
    Dec 1 '16 at 13:54
  • 2
    A reminder won't help with drive-by users who don't come back.
    – Andrew Leach Mod
    Dec 1 '16 at 14:08
  • A reminder would also flood the inbox of those who ask a lot of hard questions and rightfully do not accept any answer, which would be counter-productive -- unless the functionality could be disabled, but that would make it useless
    – Irhala
    Dec 1 '16 at 14:16
  • 1
    @AndrewLeach But, what if a reminder is sent only to those who have less than 300 (or 500) reputation and visits the site once a week at least?
    – user140086
    Dec 1 '16 at 14:33
  • @Rathony I think that might already be done. I've a couple of Meta questions myself which I haven't accepted an answer to, and I seem to remember a reminder about that.
    – Andrew Leach Mod
    Dec 1 '16 at 14:52

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