This problem has been discussed in several ways by now, but I did not find the problem I am facing with it.

I often face the problem that I answer a question and the user who made the question just goes away without accepting any answer. Often this seem to be users who only ask these questions and never visit their account again.

Since some of these questions are definitely answered, I often ask my self if something could be done about that.

For example this one: Extract software from multiple archives with WinRAR

Any Ideas about that?

(I do not really find matching tags for this, would an experienced meta user please retag this?)


Since most people seem to get my request wrong, this is not about getting the reputation for the accept.

I often try to find answers on the stackexchange sites myself and I keep facing the problem that questions related to my problem have about 10 answers with 1 or 2 upvotes that all may be right. This is really annoying and seems to be an overall continuous problem.

The overall discussion seems to be stuck at the point moderation. That was not at all what I was asking about, there has to be a community based way to get rid of that problem. Talking about votes, I do not understand why this question was voted down. Yes, this problem has been discussed a lot, but it always seems to get stuck on "we don't want that to be moderated", "deal with it", or "it is not a real problem since we have votes..." therefore it seems to me that this should be discussed from another perspective. Since it definetly is a continuous problem, it should be solved and not be talked away.

  • Hit and run cases suck, but there's nothing much that can be done.
    – Sathyajith Bhat Mod
    Commented Mar 13, 2012 at 16:45
  • Why is that such a big issue? Wouldn't it be possible to allow moderators to accept an answer to a question that was inactive for a few month if it has like ~5 upvotes or something like that.?
    – Michael K
    Commented Mar 13, 2012 at 16:47
  • 3
    it's mainly about people who are used to mailing lists and forums, finding Stack Exchange and posting & then running away the moment the get an answer, never to come back. There's very little that can be done, and having Mods mark an answer as accepted feature has been declined, and not to mention it's not correct since mods don't judge the technical validity of the answer. A discussion on this on [meta.so] Moderators accepting answers on user's behalf after a certain time period
    – Sathyajith Bhat Mod
    Commented Mar 13, 2012 at 16:54
  • It is hard for me to accept that. There is always a way to get rid of such a problem, has it ever been discussed to make an additional flag for this questions(the ones that meet the mentioned conditions), so they can be moved to a special section where users decide by vote for accepting one answer? If not, I would write a feature request for this.
    – Michael K
    Commented Mar 13, 2012 at 17:03
  • Why do you need them to be accepted? We have votes too.
    – slhck
    Commented Mar 13, 2012 at 17:05
  • Also, this has often been proposed on Meta.SO, so you probably won't see much acceptance for it.
    – slhck
    Commented Mar 13, 2012 at 17:16
  • 3
    I fail to see what the problem is that needs to be solved. There is no rule that states every question has to have an accepted answer. A question on SE is considered answered when it is either accepted, or has up voted answers. Commented Mar 13, 2012 at 19:48
  • meta.superuser.com/q/8114/281154 Commented Oct 7, 2014 at 12:48

4 Answers 4


A question is considered answered when it is either accepted or has an up voted answer. I therefore don't see the real problem. Further to this...

  • Green tick marks indicate the usefulness to the original asker for their specific use case.
  • Votes indicate the accurate and correct solution as indicated by the community.

I have to admit I struggle to understand why it is so important for users to get their answer accepted, when getting votes for it is way more effective.

Write a good answer, it will gather votes, and will seriously make the little +15 an accepted answer gets you irrelevant. I have a lot of questions that has never been accepted, yet it didn't take me very long to gain reputation on votes alone.

As for past discussions, please review my above description of the difference between accepting an answer and votes as to why it is declined so often.

FYI: I stopped answering questions when I reached around 5k reputation. I reached 10k solely on up-votes from existing answers, and although it doesn't happen often any more, I still gain reputation from those up votes, while the accepted answers maybe account for 5% of my total reputation and never ever affected it again.

  • 4
    Note that for niche topics, even good answers rarely get more than +2. The checkmark almost doubles that.
    – Daniel Beck Mod
    Commented Mar 13, 2012 at 18:47
  • 2
    There was also wasn't as many question on the site when you stopped answering so there was a better chance community would bump it or someone would edit/retag and bump it. Also as a mod your profile got alot more views than your average user would. I personally remember reading through your answers when I first started here. Commented Mar 13, 2012 at 19:12
  • 1
    First of all since that seems to be misunderstood, this in NOT about getting reputation. It is just about making clear what the right answer was. I am aware that a moderator or even community votes won't ensure that, but we discuss here to find a better way. Since this is a comment, I will add something more to the question.
    – Michael K
    Commented Mar 13, 2012 at 19:32
  • @Kyle Fair point. During the time I was moderator I rarely answered questions, and have since not had the time or lost interest. Commented Mar 13, 2012 at 19:50
  • @MichaelK But how do you figure out if something is the right answer if not through the score of an answer? In the long run, the best answers will automatically float to the top. If you see something wrong, downvote it or even flag it for deletion if it doesn't answer the question.
    – slhck
    Commented Mar 13, 2012 at 22:06
  • 1
    Figuring out the right answer is one problem, to less attention to many questions to give it enough votes is another one. It seems to me that there are to much niche questions that no one can approve or even vote on the answer correctly. There has to be a way to deal with this. like pictured in the xkcd imgs.xkcd.com/comics/wisdom_of_the_ancients.png that is the main problem. I asked my self if someone may have an idea for this, since every discussion seems to end like I mentioned in my question, I wanted to start this from another perspective.
    – Michael K
    Commented Mar 13, 2012 at 22:20
  • 1
    @MichaelK I would suggest you go to MSO and do a search for the topic. The issue has been discussed, rediscussed, rehashed and declined multiple times, since it is not considered a problem by a majority of users. Again, there is no guideline or rule that states every question has an accepted answer, and the site's definition of an answered question reflects that. Commented Mar 14, 2012 at 5:49

I often face the problem that I answer a question and the user who made the question just goes away without accepting any answer.

In what way is this an actual problem?

if something could be done about that

Why would we need to do something about that? In the case of your answer, which now stands at +8, with the next follow-up post at +1, I don't see why an "accepted" checkmark would change anything here.

For a random visitor—remember that 90% of our traffic comes from search engines—all that counts is that the most useful stuff is right at the top. If you're a person in search of help, would you really care if the question is "officially" marked as answered in our system or not?

With such a large gap in votes, it should be evident that your answer seems to be the solution.

[…] questions related to my problem have about 10 answers with 1 or 2 upvotes that all may be right. This is really annoying and seems to be an overall continuous problem.

Now this is a bit different. To a random visitor, all of them seem more or less right. But: Can't you try if the answers are indeed correct or not? You have an account, so make use of your votes or comment ability to make the Q&A better for any visitor. It is your duty to vote for what is useful and what is not.

The whole point of Stack Exchange is that good and useful answers sooner or later float to the top. This happens somewhat naturally, although of course it takes people to read, try and vote for answers. As an active member, this is your job.

If enough votes and feedback have been collected, the best answer will be quite obvious. There's no real need to accept it to further distinguish it from others. If you're just looking for help, you'll probably try anything.

  • To make a long explanation short, have a look at some questions: It should be like this: superuser.com/questions/284477/… often it is like this: superuser.com/questions/307983/app-store-for-windows/… or this superuser.com/questions/357604/… and what I want is to have more like this superuser.com/questions/284601/need-for-external-sound-card/… where the user accepted the answer that solved his problem
    – Michael K
    Commented Mar 13, 2012 at 22:33
  • I still don't see what the big difference is. I always imagine reading these pages as a random visitor – I don't care what the exact score is or if there's a check mark somewhere. Your last example is even worse than the others. The accepted answer has a lower score than others – what would I make of that?
    – slhck
    Commented Mar 14, 2012 at 8:24
  • Maybe I am not able to see this as a random visitor like you do, but for me the accept mark would say "This worked, it is the solution you are looking for." and this is what you want if you need an answer, or not?
    – Michael K
    Commented Mar 14, 2012 at 8:33
  • 1
    I don't see it that way. I often look for programming help on SO, and I'll happily try everything that was given as an answer. Sometimes, the OP will accept something that's plain wrong. Best example here: What does ||= mean in Ruby? – the accepted answer was wrong and had outscored all other answers. You wouldn't even have seen that it's wrong, because as a visitor, you can't see vote counts.
    – slhck
    Commented Mar 14, 2012 at 8:57
  • 1
    I must admit, I did not think about that. User accepting wrong answers is another problem that has an influence on my one... Well, I had a thought on my mind which I thought is worth a discussion and apparently it was. I got plenty of answers here, even if they are not really satisfying for me.
    – Michael K
    Commented Mar 14, 2012 at 9:05
  • I can understand if it looks different to you – as Diago said, this has often been discussed on MSO before. It's not a problem for most of us, but apparently depends on how you look at it :)
    – slhck
    Commented Mar 14, 2012 at 9:18

I do not know of anywhere on the web, where they have achieved a "Mandated Return Policy" for question askers, although it would be really great to see it pulled off. We could track them down at their homes or workplaces and pin them down until they provide:
1) did you solve the problem?
2) How exactly did you solve the problem?
3) Next time buddy, get your keyboard going and do a write back! Or we will be back! :-)

I would be 100% against fabricating an "accepted" out of an answer that "sounds good" , "looks correct" , "was tested by to confirm" or anything of the sort. This type of "determining for the questioner that the question is answered, FOR that questioner" Does happen on some sites, and the information can be Wrong (for that questioner) and worse. Worse for everyone who finds it in search and it is claimed to be solution, and isn't.

The information could "fix" it for one person, and be totally wrong for another. At some locations, they will Merge, cross, or claim dupe of a 99% similar , into the pile of other similars, with "hope" that the same pile of junk that does not fix it for the rest of them, is the right pile for the next person who cant fix it :-)

On some sites they mandate a Close of a question/thread, later there is finnaly an answer to that, but no one is able to put the answer in now, it is closed and locked. The useless chunks of non-answer are still searchable, readable, and complete trash without the actual answer being able to be added in.

Check out how many "Answers" lol and Q&A merges exist on the microsoft answer site, and how few have persons comming in and saying "Thanks that worked", and the next 5 people dumped there it does not work for. How many times the same Lame non-answer of reinstall, recreate, or apply the magic Ms rollback or repair, are locked down as "the answer" when that solved nothing.

The answers or even multiple answers for any question, have great value, for all the people who write a great answer , Thank You.
The writeback from the user with the problem is most valuable, when searching, to everyone who does write back, Thank You too.

Sound confusing? because reality and solutions for everyone , and the way it is handled in many locations is more confusing than my attempted description here :-)

Best thing a person could do is, satisfy thier own mind, and make an assumption that:
If they did not come back, your answer might have provided clues as to how to solve it, it might have led to the correct search term, or led them to find the right program or command for them.

Look on the bright side, They did not come back and say "That made things worse" :-)


I understand. I frequently feel frustrated when I provide an answer and a new user never returns to the site to interact with the question. This makes the "answerer" feel their effort is wasted along with other feelings. I want a one-time email sent to the "questioner" one week as a follow up. The follow up can provide new user communication about site etiquette, gentle expectations, and any other FAQ that can be addressed. The email is similar to eBay's feedback request on the transactions.

This has several benefits:

  • Decreases feeling question was abandoned

  • Increase site participation by questioner and answerer

At least with a feedback loop, the answerer knows the site made an effort to reach out to new users.

This kind of change, I believe, will increase trust with answerers. Better answers means more questioners will follow.

  • You don't provide answers for reputation, so who cares, if the person comes back?
    – Ramhound
    Commented Oct 4, 2014 at 1:42
  • @Ramhound Its about building and maintaining community. It is not about reputation. I think you don't understand my point.
    – Sun
    Commented Oct 4, 2014 at 2:16
  • I've seen questions that were followed after just a few minutes by a comment or an edit by the OP asking, "Hello? Is anybody there?" Some newcomers apparently have serious misconceptions about the nature of the Stack Exchange members (i.e., that we're people, some of whom have lives, or at least need to sleep occasionally) and the nature of time zones. It seems like some people just go away and never come back if their question doesn't get an answer within n hours. These people might actually appreciate getting a message "pushed" to them telling them that they have an answer. Commented Oct 13, 2014 at 19:52

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