How can we encourage askers to select an answer for their question?

Having answered questions is key to a successful beta - but if the askers aren't selecting from the available answers, it won't work.

Any thoughts?

  • Generally I find it acceptable to post a comment on the answer asking for it to be accepted. Don't expect a good answer to be accepted right away though. Some people may not have checked back to the site yet. They may be seeking more information or other answers (though it would be good to comment in that case asking for more info!) – David Fritsch Apr 22 '14 at 20:34
  • Do you think that will be a real problem? For me personally I would mark an answer when are is one that I like, but sometimes you get 10 answers and no one fits there question... – Harald Leithner Apr 22 '14 at 20:37
  • There's already questions that have good answers that haven't been marked as accepted. So yes, I think it could be an issue. Especially given the fact that questions MUST be marked as answered in order to have a successful beta. – Don Gilbert Apr 22 '14 at 20:42
  • Accepted answers do not play the role you attribute it. It's a common misconception, but you do NOT have to accept answers to "have a successful beta." See my answer below. – Robert Cartaino Apr 23 '14 at 14:07

The system already prompts the user to accept answers when warranted, so please do not continue to add additional notices to your posts or add comments prodding users to accept answers.

While well intentioned, as these "gentle reminders" start to accumulate across the system, the whole thing starts to look somewhat harassing to new users — so I would ask you not to do that. Accepting an answer is a completely voluntary activity, and it is up to the user to decide when (and if) an answer should be accepted at all.

Misunderstanding the 'Accepted' Answer Feature

The "accepted answer" function has nothing to do with whether an post is considered "answered" or not. From the system's point of view, a question comes off the 'unanswered' list when it receives an answer with at least one up-vote. So asking the original author to 'accept' an answer (in terms of making this site "work") is both unnecessary and unwarranted.

There's also the unfortunately side effect that, if you are 'accepting' an answer too quickly, the questions/issues take on an appearance of being resolve and no further input is needed. Accepting an answer too quickly discourages new participation and discourages the addition better answers as new users find this site.

Besides, early in the beta, you have a relatively small community adding content. If a large percentage of questions are already answered, the chances are that your questions aren't terribly challenging, or more likely they have already been asked hundreds of times on every other site on this subject. Neither scenario makes for a very interesting site.

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    Thanks for answering Robert! It's unclear what "answered" means in the context of the beta requiring "answered" questions - I just assumed it was questions with accepted answers. Good to know it is not dependent upon the asker accepting an answer. I'll stop posting that. – Don Gilbert Apr 23 '14 at 14:03

As mentioned, gently reminding the user in a comment to the question is a good start, after all comments on the question do notify the user in a variety of ways (based on their settings).

Beyond that it's difficult, but in this early ßeta stage we can probably be a bit more vocal as we are trying to get the site ready for launch and anyone here has already made a commitment.

  • Maybe we could also add this sentiment to the system message at the top of the page during the ßeta stage. – Neil Robertson Apr 23 '14 at 4:47
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    @NeilRobertson The system already prompts the users to accept an answer when warranted, but the feature is not really paramount enough to warrant blasting it across the top of every page in a system message. See my answer below. – Robert Cartaino Apr 23 '14 at 14:03

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