9

I'm fairly new around here, and read a Meta post from 2015 encouraging 'people to engage into solving some of our old unsolved problems.'

In an attempt to do just that, I've been poring over questions without accepted answers. Imagine my surprise when I discovered many that not only have answers, but have comments from the OP saying 'yes, that's the answer!' However, they never actually marked the answer as accepted.

Since it's annoying to read a question, start formulating an answer, and then discover that it has actually been answered, I've begun leaving comments such as the following:

@xxx: Can you accept yyy's answer below? To mark an answer as accepted, click on the check mark beside the answer to toggle it from greyed out to filled in. Thanks!

(I started adding the instruction line when a user responded to my comment, saying 'Yes, I accept the answer' without actually clicking the checkmark)

My question is threefold:

  1. Is that an acceptable use of comments? I'm not trying to badger anybody, but they did ask the question, after all, AND indicate that a particular answer was accurate.
  2. Is it worth it? I know many people post questions and then never return, but I'm only adding comments to ones that the OP has actually returned to to say 'yes,' which I believe would indicate they're more likely to respond.
  3. Is there a better way?
  • 1
    As a clarification, I'm specifically talking about questions that have been answered as an Answer and not in the comments. However, I'm of the opinion that if a question has been answered only in the comments, and the OP responds that the commented answer is correct, then an answer should be created and a comment left for the OP to select it as their Answer. But I'm not brave enough to do that yet. – aryxus Mar 10 '17 at 20:21
  • 1
    Even if you do this, your comment reads as a directive hidden as a request. The general wording is "If you find this answer helpful, consider accepting it as an answer". – Catija Mar 10 '17 at 20:36
  • 1
    @Catija: "If" seems a bit disingenuous, since I'm specifically talking about questions where the OP explicitly says they found the answer helpful. Perhaps "Since you find this answer helpful, consider accepting it as an answer"? – aryxus Mar 10 '17 at 20:39
  • As far as 'putting comments all over the site' goes, since these are officially unanswered questions, I believe the only people likely to see such comments would be people coming to answer the question. Which, again, has already been answered, just not 'officially.' If nothing else, this will tell those people that the OP has been notified and chose not to come back. – aryxus Mar 10 '17 at 20:40
11

First of all, it is generally discouraged to ask people to accept answers, be those your answers or anyone elses. If they think an answer is sufficient for acceptance, they will accept it. Sometimes users also just tend to give a question a little time before accepting the very first answer.

However, those as general remarks. You are adressing a much more specific issue here, namely that of users clearly indicating that an answer is correct without accepting it. (This also most of the time happens on ID questions, where the asker saying that an answer is correct is a 99% guarantee it should be accepted.) Most of those cases clearly result from people just not being aware of how the site works, specifically the acceptance feature, especially when they are new users. And whenever someone is unaware of how the site works, helping them and guiding them to understanding it is never a bad idea.

So to adress your specific questions:

  1. Yes, if they really indicated that the answer is correct and the lack of acceptance just seems to come from a lack of knowing how the site works, such a comment is totally acceptable. However, as pointed out in the comments, it might be better to word it a little less demanding, leaving the option up to them. I for myself thend to leave a comment like this in such situations:

    Feel free to accept this answer if it is the correct solution to your problem.

  2. Unfortunately, most of those comments will likely stay unheeded or even unnoticed. So it depends on your own priorities if you think it worthwhile or not. However, I have seen answers accepted after leaving such comments, even if its unclear if the comment helped in that. But there is certainly no disadvantage to leaving such a comment other than the time it takes you to write it.

  3. Unfortunately, there isn't any more effective way to deal with this either. Neither can we nor should we accept answers on other users' behalf and if a user disappears forever, that's just bad luck. But at the end of the day, acceptance doesn't really mean that much, especially on a site like ours where many questions might not even be exactly solvable. I do agree that ID questions are a bit of a special case in this, especially since the lack of acceptance might encourage people to post new (and ultimately wrong) answers, but that's just a side effect we have to deal with.

  • 5
    I kind of wish there was a "community accepted" answer sort of thing. ie, when a question is old enough and is left without a chosen answer, the community can vote on whether an answer is the correct answer or not. I'd put some serious restrictions on it though, requiring those voting to have to have the tag badge that question is tagged with. – DForck42 Mar 10 '17 at 21:36
  • I guess that's already been proposed and shot down: meta.stackexchange.com/a/80321/161679 – DForck42 Mar 14 '17 at 15:42
  • 1
    As an aside for "wrong" answers... sometimes shows/movies can have such similar plots and/or be remakes or other retelling of the same original story that other answers can still be helpful to others, even if the OP wasn't looking for that exact movie. – Booga Roo Mar 19 '17 at 0:49
  • 1
    @DForck42 - I sure don't. Any Q&A site that's implemented something similar has ended up cliquey where bands of regulars just mark each other's answers as 'correct' while the OP is blatantly saying it doesn't help them (Social.MSDN Q&A Forums for example). I'd rather live with a missing checkmark than deal with that sort of mess. – Robotnik Mar 23 '17 at 22:43
  • @Robotnik valid concern – DForck42 Mar 24 '17 at 13:06

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .