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:
- Wander through all the questions to see if I can find some glimmer
of information that might help me.
- Re-ask the (same) question hoping someone will be able to answer
it for me.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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".
- 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.