Since StackExchange UI is much more about subjectivity than objective correctness, I doubt we'll ever see the kind of ratio of accepted answers sites like StackOverflow, SuperUser or Cooking (!) are seeing right now.

But should we still care about that ratio anyway? Does encouraging a high acceptance ratio in itself encourage closure on questions? When people arrive at question pages from Google, does ensuring a higher ratio of accepted answers improve immediate scannability of answers and therefore provide a better service to such visitors? Is it good practice to lean towards accepting answers despite being a far more subjective site in nature? And how would we reflect any decision around this in the FAQ?

Personally I'm leaning towards "yes, we should encourage accepting answers". Accepting an answer shouldn't mean it's the objective best answer but it could be a good way to indicate that it's a preferred, or fairly good answer. That in itself leads me to the following: should we lobby for adjusted functionality for StackExchange UI around how answers are accepted? Since answers are more subjective, should we consider the possibility that the "accepted" state could be something more democratic and less dependent on the person asking the question preferring said answer?

What do you guys think?

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I believe SE displays messages when you browse your profile prompting you to accept some answers, if your acceptance rate is low. It's been a while since I've seen them but I remember seeing it. Perhaps a more noticeable method should be used. –  Naoise Golden Jan 11 '12 at 9:56
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2 Answers

All accepting an answer means really is "this works for me" (where "me" is the OP).

There have been occasions on Meta where questions have been discussed that have had accepted answers that are "incorrect" to one degree or another and people say "what can we do to correct this horrible situation". In all cases the answer is "nothing" as the OP has the say on which (if any) answer they accept.

So, yes we should encourage acceptance, but don't get hung up on it.

It might be worth a note in the FAQ along the lines of "accepting an answer indicates which answer helped you the most, not necessarily which is the correct answer" just to emphasise the point.

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Okay, so how do we go about encouraging acceptance? Any thoughts? –  Rahul Aug 31 '10 at 21:23
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I agree with ChrisF; while it's desirable to encourage acceptance (especially in cases where there really is a 'best'/'right' answer), we shouldn't be overly concerned with it.

One other thing I wanted to address:

When people arrive at question pages from Google, does ensuring a higher ratio of accepted answers improve immediate scannability of answers and therefore provide a better service to such visitors?

Of all your points, this is the one I feel matters least. Unless a user is already familiar with the StackExchange network, they really won't understand what the green check mark means, so I really don't think it will have much bearing on their perceptions/usage of the content.

Frankly, I'm more worried about people who accept the first answer only an hour after they ask their question. To me, that seems like a much bigger detriment to both the community and casual visitors.

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The green checkmark is a fairly common convention on Q&A sites; MS Tech Net does this for example. But Stack Exchange places a lot less weight on the check mark (no Best Answer text ect). Arguably that's for a good reason, especially on UX I'd rather people read at least the top couple answers to any given question –  Ben Brocka Jul 5 '12 at 15:51
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