This has already been asked on Meta.SO, and it looks like the current answer remains 'no', but I do think it'd be nice to be able to assign a correct answer to questions which have hit a certain age and likely will never be revisited by the original question asker. While the votes do help discern the best community answer, it is a little annoying to not have the right answer accepted for something like this question which is clearly answered but is unlikley to ever be accepted.

Update: across sites, it sounds like the 'accepted' answer means one thing: the author has checked the box. Within this site, it seems like we're moving toward a social shaming approach for those questioners who do not accept any answers to their questions, which is sufficient for enforcing this kind of policy without any software changes.

up vote 7 down vote accepted

Unless you have the time to visit users' houses and force them if they refuse to pick an answer, there's nothing to be done.

If the user doesn't want to pick, there's no accepted answer; if you pick for them, "accepted" loses its meaning.

  • 1
    "accepted" could mean that the mods and/or others through the mods, have verified an answer is correct, whether or not the OP "gets it"...but I do get your point and "accept" your answer – user681 May 20 '11 at 22:13
  • that's fine, it keeps an internally consistent view of 'accepted' but comes with the trade-off of the authority of answers: some communities have chosen to force answers to gain consensus, so I just wanted to hear other opinions. – scw May 21 '11 at 6:08

I don't think it would work since it would require intervention by the moderators and would be extremely time consuming. I don't know if it is possible to track an individual's questions. If it were, limiting the number of unclosed questions might provide incentive/persuasion to examine what they have already posted before they move on to their next crisis.

Overall, to my mind, the number of votes an answer has garnered is more useful than it's 'accepted' flag. Votes are the culmination of group mind, a consensus of sorts or at least a move in that direction, while 'accepted' is the reflection of one mind's opinion. It is not uncommon to see answers voted much higher than the "accepted" answer, or questions where an answer is accepted but probably shouldn't have been because no single answer can be complete (ex).

I would sooner vote for dropping the 'accepted' feature altogether than a feature to force acceptance. Actually I'd move for changing the wording/meaning to something like "this answer helped me the most", as that is closer to what it actually means in practice (and the point exchange in accepting an answer is an important and integral part of the system).

  • 4
    Look at it though from the perspective of someone who just has a few minutes to answer a question and wants to have maximum impact. That member is likely going to drill down into the no answers tab wishing to focus on questions that have not been answered. The more questions there that lack an accepted answer (through inattentive questioners) the harder it will be for this potential answerer to maximize his impact. – Kirk Kuykendall May 24 '11 at 1:50
  • a very good point Kirk – matt wilkie May 25 '11 at 23:56

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