I've noticed that about a quarter of the questions posted on the GIS.SE don't have accepted answers. I think it's about 9,400 of the 39,400 questions currently. In many cases, it's not that these questions don't have answers and sometimes they even have multiple answers. Granted some of the answers to the questions may not have satisfied the OP, in some cases no answer could actually be acceptable as the one and only answer, and certainly there are some questions that simply don't have answers provided--I'm really glad to see that that number is actually fairly low, reflecting the remarkable breadth of expertise of the site.
So lately I've started to wonder if the actual answer acceptance mechanism is perhaps a little too subtle for new users of the GIS.SE? Could it be that they are simply overlooking this aspect of the forum? This is what it looks like to a poster:
That little grey coloured check mark that appears under each answer is the only indication that answers can be accepted. If you mouse-over it a little pop-up message with a large block of English text appears--which is easily ignored or passed over. As someone who has been here long enough to know, I see that grey checkmark, with all those upvotes, and desperately want to check that grey checkmark! But the check mark itself is so inconspicuous that I could see how someone could overlook it. I could see how a new user might even think that an upvote that they cast for an answer is equivalent to an acceptance. And you could see why they might think their upvote is differentiated from the group of non-OP upvotes given when they upvote their screen will have that nice and obvious red up-arrow (i.e. they may not realize that we can't tell the difference between upvotes cast by the OP and others).
I suppose we could ask if it is even important whether a question has an accepted answer or not? Probably one could argue either way. I tend to think that without an accepted answer a question seems to be unresolved. When this is the case for a long time, it doesn't reflect well on the GIS.SE and I guess that's my primary concern. Also, sometimes I scroll through the unanswered question to see if I can provide an answer and I happen upon one that has an excellent answer already and wonder to myself how it wasn't accepted already. So, is there some way that the acceptance mechanism can be made more obvious for newcomers? Is this a question that would be better posted elsewhere because it is out of our hands anyhow?