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Considering how the unanswered list says something like, 'Questions without, or with no accepted, answers,,,' I'm wondering about the importance and significance of accepting answers at all for this community (and others, I suppose.)

There's cases where the accepted answer is overvoted by another... As I posit this question, I see a thread asking what to do when an accepted answer is wrong. I see another where a user asks to be able to accept more than one answer...

The acceptance of an answer is based on the decision of the question-asker. This doesn't seem efficient in the sense that there are varying levels of understanding - a novice may ask a question, then receive an expert, as well as another novice, answer... Surely, the expert answer will be upvoted the most but, the asker may choose to accept the novice answer out of lack of understanding (to pull an example totally out of my ass.)

What's the consequence of having a ton of great answers to a question to which none will be accepted because the user doesn't even recognize the feature?

Finally, would it matter if this feature was removed?

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    There's a lot of different questions here. It's important to note that the accepted answer is supposed to represent the one that helped the asker the most or the one that they felt was best, not the one that is upvoted most or even the most correct. Do you see problems with that setup? (Please add them to this post!) – Matthew Read Jan 19 '17 at 16:24
  • @Matthew - I'm not saying there's any inherent problems with the function... I believe it's especially necessary with SO, for example. Just wondering if it fits right in our little music world. – Modern Apostles Jan 19 '17 at 22:56
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    It does seem like more questions should have an accepted answer, and at the same time I wouldn't want an asker to accept any answers that didn't fully satisfy them regarding their question. I've asked questions on other stacks that have never been answered to my satisfaction and therefore they stand to this day with no accepted answer. My possibly flawed understanding of SE is that I have acted correctly in this and allowed for a possible complete answer in the future. – Todd Wilcox Jan 21 '17 at 4:56
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Accepting answers is most relevant when the question is in the style of 'I want a correct solution to this problem'. Clearly it's not perfect even then, as you may get two correct answers that would both help you solve the problem, or two answers that between them give a correct solution.

The ability to accept an answer is less helpful for questions where there's no clear 'correct' answer. We get a lot of these here, and as a result I'd say that the ability to accept answers (and habit of doing so) is less important to this community than some others.

What's the consequence of having a ton of great answers to a question to which none will be accepted because the user doesn't even recognize the feature?

I've not noticed any major adverse consequence of that here.

a novice may ask a question, then receive an expert, as well as another novice, answer... Surely, the expert answer will be upvoted the most but, the asker may choose to accept the novice answer out of lack of understanding

If that's the answer that actually helped the asker more, that's fair enough. Incidentally, the highest-voted answer is often the first half-decent answer, rather than the 'best' or most 'expert' in any way.

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    Upvoting and accepting. ;) It may just me the OCD in me but, makes me antsy when someone doesn't accept the answer when there's a great one... If no other consequence than that, it's obviously not an issue (though it pains me to say so ;). Wondering if it'd be pertinent to have the Community user eventually accept an answer that's been upvoted or has the most upvotes after the question's idled for a certain period of time. – Modern Apostles Jan 19 '17 at 23:00
  • @SuperQueryLad sometimes people gently encourage new users to accept an answer where it seems that they might have missed the facility. – topo morto Jan 19 '17 at 23:12
  • Excellent point. Since much of this site is about art, it stands to reason that for many questions there cannot be only one correct answer. This is in contrast to, say, Science Fiction and Fantasy, which is heavily dependent on research and canon. – Bob Jan 22 '17 at 20:44
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    Incidentally, the highest-voted answer is often the first half-decent answer, rather than the 'best' or most 'expert' in any way - too true! "Early bird catches the worm". – Stinkfoot Mar 12 '18 at 5:14
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Finally, would it matter if this feature was removed?

I think it would matter a great deal: The possibility of getting extra points for acceptance makes people strive to post the best answers they can muster.

IMO removing the acceptance incentive would cause significant damage to the quality of the answers posted, and make SE much more like a run-of-the-mill discussion site. "Just post something that sounds OK - maybe I'll get an upvote"...

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    I agree that it would negatively impact the site if acceptance were removed, but there seem to be plenty of answers that follow the "just post something that sounds OK - maybe I'll get an upvote" pattern. Also, I am always mildly (and pleasantly) surprised to get an acceptance from a new user, since it seems like many new users post a question, get their answer, and disappear into the ether(net). – David Bowling Mar 12 '18 at 15:46
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    @DavidBowling many new users post a question, get their answer, and disappear into the ether - Yes, that happens plenty. I think a lot of them don't know about the accept feature. But it sure is annoying when you an post answer that you've worked on and you get back nothing from the OP - not even a comment or a 'thanks'. I post answers mostly for the sake of it - to shoot of my mouth :) and stay sharp - but I am trying to help the user, particularly when it comes to more practical sorts of questions, as opposed to academically oriented ones. – Stinkfoot Mar 12 '18 at 19:08
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If there are a large number of questions without an accepted answer then this SE is not serving its overt purpose: people post questions about a problem they have, other people with expertise post answers, one of those answers helps the OP to solve his/her problem. At one level, the purpose of the site is to connect people with problems with other people who can help solve them. That is why the OP get a special "vote": marking one answer as accepted. I always interpret this as "the answer that worked for the OP" -- this may not be the best, in some sense, answer, it just needs to be the one that worked for the OP.

This information can be useful to other people in the SE's other role of serving as a repository of answerable questions with validated answers. A direct indication of "this actually worked for me" can be more informative than general "many people think that this should work", at least as long as the problem that brought you to the question is close enough to the OP's.

Then there is the psychological manipulation side of it. The recognition and +15 points is a reward for answers that directly address the OP's question as written, instead of well written, informative, generally useful information that may not directly help the OP solve his/her problem (hypothetically at least, I'm imagining that this kind of content may receive a lot of up-votes). This was part of the SE system's design to try to keep the answers focused on the specific questions at hand.

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It is not very important whether or not a question has an accepted answer.

As soon as a question has an upvoted answer with a positive score, the system considers the question “answered,” and it will not appear in the unanswered questions list anymore.

What the answer acceptance feature does do is provide the question’s OP with any easy way to provide feedback to us. By accepting an answer, the OP is essentially saying, “I came back to the site, read the answers, and this post answers my question. Thank you! I don’t need any more answers.”

Keep in mind, however, that whether or not the OP accepts an answer, the question lives on for the benefit of others. New answers can be added, old answers can be edited (even the question itself can be edited), voting continues, and others can read the answers and learn something new.

It is nice getting feedback from the OP and knowing that the OP came back, read the answer, and learned something, but even if that doesn’t happen, the site functions just as well.

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