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This is a general question across SE sites, but I figured I'd ask here since I couldn't find the answer generally.

Suppose there is a high-voted question with a high-voted answer. It has been over a year and the OP has not marked the answer as accepted. It's clearly high traffic question that lots of people have (it may even have the block against "thanks!" comments turned on). Is it appropriate to flag such a question for moderators to come and mark the answer as "accepted"?

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    $\begingroup$ I always thought that you can choose an accepted answer but you don't need to. worldbuilding.stackexchange.com/help/accepted-answer After all: do we really know if the highest rated answer is one that really helped the OP? Normally it does, but there are, for example, questions that have an accepted answer with a lot less votes than the highest rated answer. A good answer for the community is not necessarily a good answer for the OP and it's his question after all. $\endgroup$ – Sec SE - clear Monica's name Mar 29 '17 at 20:03
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    $\begingroup$ There are cases where there is a right answer... happens less often on WB, but on SO or Physics, that's where this may be more applicable. $\endgroup$ – SRM Mar 29 '17 at 20:08
  • $\begingroup$ Recently I saw a question where there was a better answer than the one accepted by the OP. But, ultimately, it is the OP's choice especially where questions on WB are meeting what is often more complex criteria that may not be realistic in the usual sense and which have to fit in the OP's world. Perhaps the answers don't satisfy the OP. Better to just leave it. $\endgroup$ – a4android Mar 30 '17 at 10:24
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    $\begingroup$ @a4a as I read this thread, my conclusion is that the green check mark is meaningless for the most part for anyone finding the question later. It would be nice if it just didn't draw for me outside of a question I asked or an answer I gave. $\endgroup$ – SRM Mar 30 '17 at 13:16
  • $\begingroup$ @SRM I agree. Generally it makes more sense for the OP than anyone who finds a question later on. Sometimes the accepted question is the go-to answer, but not always. We all have different interest and tastes. This soon gets very subjective and there's no answer to that. $\endgroup$ – a4android Mar 31 '17 at 1:12
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Only the OP can accept an answer. Moderators can't override that. It's the OP's prerogative to give the checkmark to a good answer, a less-good answer that he says worked for him, or no answer at all.

Fortunately, the default sorting is by score, so the best answer (according to the community) will still show up at the top of the list and thus be visible to readers. (Most of our readers do not have accounts on the site; they come via search engines and other links.)

There have been many proposals on Meta.SE over the years about ways to fix various aspects of "the accepted-answer problem". In this question that I asked in 2015 I compiled links to some of them. You might find interesting reading there, but don't blame me if you get sucked in, TV-Tropes-style. :-) (Those links are mainly about problems from "bad" answers being accepted, but there are further links from there. As I said, there's been a lot of discussion.)

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  • $\begingroup$ The downside of this ... I (and I think others) assume that if there's no accepted then there's still contention over the answer (as in DaaWhoosh's answer) and therefore I need to read through all the answers to find what I need. "How do C++ default constructors handle POD fields?" has a right answer... but if nothing is accepted, I assume there must be some contention, like maybe it was different in some earlier version or something. $\endgroup$ – SRM Mar 29 '17 at 21:01
  • $\begingroup$ Does that similarly mean you can't fix when the accepted answer is a wrong answer? $\endgroup$ – SRM Mar 29 '17 at 21:03
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    $\begingroup$ @SRM I would say even in the case of an existing accepted answer, you probably still should look through the other answers, especially on Worldbuilding. Acceptance is more of a 'this worked for me' than it is a 'this is the absolute complete timeless answer', trying to make it anything else would probably require way more moderation than we have access to. $\endgroup$ – DaaaahWhoosh Mar 29 '17 at 21:07
  • $\begingroup$ @SRM as DaaahWhoosh said, don't place too much faith in the check or absence thereof. That it helped the OP -- or that the OP never came back to let us know -- doesn't mean that your needs are exactly the same as the OP's. But you don't necessarily have to review every single answer; the community helps to guide you through voting. If it's a question where there is in fact one correct answer (more like on SO than WB), then once you find it you can stop reading. $\endgroup$ – Monica Cellio Mar 29 '17 at 21:11
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    $\begingroup$ @SRM (re second comment): that's right; we can't change acceptance marks. Only somebody with direct database access and an astonishingly-good reason to muck with it could do that, and I would be really surprised if there's ever been a case with such a reason. If an accepted answer is that dangerous, better to work on community deletion -- I've seen that happen. $\endgroup$ – Monica Cellio Mar 29 '17 at 21:13
  • $\begingroup$ "the default sorting is by score, so the best answer (according to the community) will still show up at the top of the list" Of course, the flip side of that is that if the OP accepts an answer, even a horrible one, it's stuck on top! $\endgroup$ – a CVn May 18 '17 at 9:33
  • $\begingroup$ @MichaelKjörling yes, which is why there have been various proposals to change accepted-answer behavior. $\endgroup$ – Monica Cellio May 18 '17 at 12:56
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I just want to add to Monica's answer by saying that there have been times when I have not gotten what I considered to be an acceptable answer to my question. The question remained, as did its existing answers, but I still held out hope that someone new would find the question and write a new answer to it. This is, in fact, a thing we should encourage users to do, to go back through our archive of questions and see if there are any in need of a new perspective.

I see your point that sometimes a user never comes back to accept an answer. But I don't really see the issue with this; I see far more of an issue of someone coming in, getting answers that they feel are insufficient, and being told by the system that their problem is solved, and that any future attempts to answer their question are now discouraged.

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  • $\begingroup$ See my comment to both you and Monica on her reply. $\endgroup$ – SRM Mar 29 '17 at 21:02
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    $\begingroup$ On Adobe's forum I have the issue where they are so hot on marking questions answered; the sysops marked my question answered because it had been a few days, but the answers were not actually useful and I stikk wanted a real answer. $\endgroup$ – JDługosz Mar 30 '17 at 6:49
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Just my opinion, but my guess is "The Answer" is implicitly the Questioners to determine.

Having said that, then one looks at your issue .... Ok, but I would want to know the intrinsic value to the community for someone other than the Questioner to ... hopefully, objectively, select an answer as "The Answer".

If there is no intrinsic value to the community (and how could there be, because if person X has a better answer and enters it, no one is going to go back and undo the selected answer) for selecting an answer as "The Answer" other than to the person that created the selected answer ... are we getting sufficiently convoluted here yet :) ... then no, there is no point to it.

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  • $\begingroup$ I think I agree... seems like just ignoring the green checkmarks is the right idea. $\endgroup$ – SRM Mar 30 '17 at 4:03

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