The Unanswered tab at the top shows that there are more than 8,000 unanswered questions, it also seems to increase every day. I think it's a bad behavior that this keeps increasing...

Don't understand me wrong, I'm not trying to nitpick but I'm trying to get questions answered...
This tab is the feature I use the most and while it works for new questions, it doesn't work for old ones.

Let's take a look at the oldest question...

Setting up synergy (multi-computer shared input devices) new to mac

The user indicates that his question is answered.
None of the answers have been upvoted and he hasn't accepted a solution either.

This is an example of an unanswered question that is actually answered,
and I believe there are a lot more questions that tend to have the same issue.

This leads me to several problems/suggestions...

  • I could upvote those questions, but there is a voting cap.

  • Moderators could accept solutions, and 3k and 10k users could vote/flag to accept solutions.

  • Users should have a reminder to improve there question or accept an answer after a time period,
    I suppose there is one but I still see lots of users not accept the final answers.

Other cases:

  • Users that solve their question right after they post it before others do, they leave it unanswered.

I just think we should find a solution for this so the history of the unanswered list gets more useful, then it's easier to go through old questions and to find answers for those and maybe even to get awarded for answering those.

PS: Feel free to add other cases and examples that could fill the unanswered list...

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Just a note @TomWij: mods can't accept answers for the user –  Ivo Flipse Aug 11 '10 at 16:08
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Yeah, that's why I added feature-request and the suggestion. –  Tom Wijsman Aug 11 '10 at 16:10
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I think you're quite right! This has been a pain for me to see also! Especially the single-question users that only seek a quick answer leave their questions open... The feature request would be a nice addition to the website. imho –  BloodPhilia Aug 11 '10 at 16:20
    
+1, but there/their errors should be fixed –  AndrejaKo Aug 11 '10 at 17:51
    
@Tom Wijsman - can you please explain how "...upvote those questions ... would also prevent me from getting the Electorate badge". It seems to me that upvoting lots of Questions is exactly what earns you an Electorate badge. Upvoting lots of Answers will lower your Q/A upvote percentage, but not permanently. Have the rules changed since you wrote this, or am I reading this wrong ? –  Kevin Fegan Oct 28 '12 at 18:11
    
@KevinFegan: Heh, dunno why I typed it that way, I probably was a bit tired / confused. Have the badge now so that part doesn't matter, so I will remove it. –  Tom Wijsman Oct 28 '12 at 20:01
    
This question shows research effort; it is useful and clear. –  maxwellb Jul 16 '13 at 3:49
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2 Answers

Here's my take on this...

I think there are way too many questions that have no accepted answer, but upon reading the answers, you find a comment from the OP similar to this: "Hey, that worked!! You solved my problem." (sorry, no checkmark for you.)

Or, a Question with plenty of answers, good answers with many upvotes, and comments from other users indicating the answer solved the same problem for them, AND where the OP hasn't accepted an answer and hasn't commented or updated their question for over 6 months or 1 year. Of course, in this case, the answer just might not have worked for the OP, but that doesn't mean the question hasn't been sufficiently answered given the details and feedback provided.

Now, while it very true that these types of "Unanswered" questions clutter up the 'Unanswered list" for people looking to Answer questions, it is also seriously cluttered up for people Looking for an answer to their question.

If I am looking/searching for an answer to solve a problem I am having, and I find 50 or 100 results including 10 questions with Accepted answers, I can look at those with accepted answers first. I may not find an answer that solves my problem, but it will be a good place to start.

Otherwise, I am left to:

  1. Wander through all the questions to see if I can find some glimmer of information that might help me.
  2. Re-ask the (same) question hoping someone will be able to answer it for me.
  3. Leave the site and go elsewhere to find an answer.

My next point, is that it seems to me that questions can me classified as:

  • Resolved: A question with at least one answer, and the asker has accepted an answer.
  • Answered: An "Un-Resolved" question with at least one answer, with one or more answers meeting a threshold of upvotes, and the question meets an "age" threshold (at least "n" days old).
  • Unanswered: A question with no answers, or some answers but fails to meet the thresholds of "Answered" or "Resolved".
  • Abandoned: A question with insufficient "good" (upvoted) answers, and with no input from the OP within a time threshold.
  • Closed: A question that has been closed, I assume usually because it is "Off-topic", or "Duplicate".

So, these are my suggestions for addressing all this... keeping in mind that I am fairly new to the site and some of these suggestions may already be (partially) implemnted, or can currently be done but in a different way.

  1. In the same way that a moderator can close a question for being "Off-topic" or other reasons, allow moderators to review, and where appropriate, mark an Answer as "Accepted by moderator". This would show an alternate indicator different from the "Accepted" checkmark.
  2. In the same way that a question can be closed for vairous reasons by getting a number of "close" votes by users, allow users to review, and where appropriate, vote to mark an Answer as "Accepted by community". A sufficient number of votes would show an alternate indicator different from the "Accepted" checkmark.
  3. In cases where appropriate, for questions with insufficient "good" (upvoted) answers, and with no input from the OP within a time threshold, allow moderators (and possibly by user vote), to mark a question as "Abandoned".
  4. Optionally, if it seems appropriate, the OP could "dismiss" the "Abandoned" indicator by further participation in the question, and could "dismiss" the "Accepted by moderator" or "Accepted by community" or "Abandoned" indicators if they felt the answer was actually insufficient for them.

For those that think the current view for "Unanswered" questions is fine as it is, the "Unanswered" questions view would remain the same.

Implement a way to "filter" the view of "Unanswered" questions by:

  • Exclude "Abandoned" questions.
  • Exclude "Resolved" questions. Exclude questions with an answer accepted by OP.
  • Exclude "Answered" questions. Exclude "Resolved" questions and "old" questions with no "good" (by upvotes) answers. (Show questions with no answers regardless of age, and answered questions (not-accepted) depending on upvote/age threshold).
  • Show "Accepted by moderator" or "Accepted by community" indicators.
  • Exclude questions "Accepted by moderator" or "Accepted by community".

Cleaning up the "Unanswered list" is not only about making it easier for people to find questions they can provide answers for, it's also, in a significant way, about making acceptable answers (even though not "Accepted") easier to find.

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For resolution 2, you could even base it off of a function of age and average upvotes per answer for the question. An old question can highlight "relatively good answers" and if it gets revived, it would fall more into the "active and unanswered" category. –  maxwellb Jul 16 '13 at 3:47
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What is it really you have a problem with?

The fact that these questions pop up as unanswered while they obviously are, so they clutter your search for new questions to answer?

Because really the signal to noise ratio isn't that terrible, especially since I believe most of these questions will be fairly old, so it's not a trend or growing problem.

Changing the status of these questions however, will have no influence on their usefulness. If it's answered and someone stumbles on our site with the same problem, the answer will also solve his problem. Regardless of the amount of upvotes or accepted answers.

I do agree it would be nice to filter these questions, to be able to find questions I can answer and/or that are worth trying to effort without having my results cluttered with false positives.

In response to your first comment: it would be better to give you a view or app that helps you find questions that are worth answering, rather than changing some of the fundamental elements of the site.

The only possible solution I could think off would be to allow mods to edit questions that are older than n-months and have x-answers with y-upvotes (you fill in the blanks). Though I really think we shouldn't mess with voting/accepting, as we have bounties and other elements to encourage this behavior

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I think that indeed is the problem. An answered question is spotted in the list almost immediately so you know there's no use in clicking the link and trying to answer it. –  BloodPhilia Aug 11 '10 at 16:34
    
The second alinea (The fact that...) and the last alinea (I do agree...) are indeed the problems. These aren't issue when looking at the newest questions, but they are when looking at the oldest questions. I think it's a bad behavior to just ignore these old questions as they do need an answer too, even if the one who asked the question doesn't need an answer anymore the people who find the question still do... When I look at the last pages, the signal to noise ratio looks terrible to me. This ratio doesn't grow, but the amount of unanswered questions does which feels wrong to me... –  Tom Wijsman Aug 11 '10 at 17:06
    
The view or app would show the same problems as the oldest unanswered questions. I can't fill in the blanks either, it should be one that makes the oldest end of the unanswered questions proper if that at least is a feasible solution. Not to forget that the questions in the middle between new and old might have the same problem. Bounties and other elements don't solve the problem that users don't upvote or accept answers to their questions, which makes it hard for people that want to check and try to answer these older questions... It just seems wrong to just ignore those. –  Tom Wijsman Aug 11 '10 at 17:20
    
@BloodPhilia: Rgegarding the second sentence of your comment: The amount of answers on a question doesn't indicate whether it's answered... This is not useful to me for deciding whether to ignore the link. –  Tom Wijsman Aug 11 '10 at 17:36
    
@Tomwij I know, that's why it's convenient when solved questions are marked as answered... I'm backing you up! =P I was responding to "The fact that these questions pop up as unanswered while they obviously are, so they clutter your search for new questions to answer?" from Ivo. –  BloodPhilia Aug 11 '10 at 18:36
    
Yeah, I misunderstood something there, I thought you talked about the amount of answers to a question because of the presence of the answered question. But again, to clarify my view on the sentence I mentioned earlier and your response (it's probably just a typo you made that confuses me): Answered questions shouldn't be marked as answered in the unanswered when this issue is fixed, they don't belong there as that is the reason of the clutter. –  Tom Wijsman Aug 11 '10 at 22:57
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