Take this post as the example.

It is an okay question and I think I answered it pretty darn good. No one else has even tried to answer it; mine is the only one.

Here is the issue:

The OP hasn't been back since May 23. That is almost four months! I think it's safe to say that he will likely not come back.

Here's my problem:

If he never comes back, or if his account gets deleted then he will never select my answer. I don't really care about that. I only need one more upvote to be eligible for the enlightened badge, which I will never get for this post. It is the badge that I care about.

So we have:

  • A user that will likely never come back and has not been to the site for over 100 days.
  • A single answer with nine upvotes that is well sourced and answers the question very well.

Why do we not have an auto-select for this scenario? Remember, like I said, it is not really the green check mark I am after. I want the badge.

This has been brought up on MSO a few times 123, but with respect to SO only and not the whole network.

I like the solution here, which is to have some sort of "accept answer" vote, where high rep community members can vote that an answer is selected. There should be a queue for posts that are eligible for this and the criteria for this queue filling is like the post I gave as an example. The criteria should be such that the queue fills with questions that have answers that will likely never be selected by the OP but the votes on at least one of the answers indicates that it is the correct or "accept worthy" answer.

Now C.SE is very different than SO. I can see why they don't really want to do this there, but on this site, when there is such an obvious, "should be selected" answer like mine I really do not see the hesitation. Also, on all those MSO posts, they are but none of the SE staff has actually given an answer.

3 Answers 3


Answer selection is completely optional. Creating a mechanic for answer selection outside of the OP returning and selecting the best answer is a nonstarter

In fact, there has been a proposal from this community to completely remove the answer selection option.

Neither of these things are feasible for the following reasons.

  • We're a part of the SE model. They do relatively little per site customization with respect to the mechanics. Ultimately this is asking for a model change that's not really a big deal and

  • The nature of SE questions is that the person inquiring should be the person to judge which answer works for them. I know that's a bit odd here when a lot of questions are very subjective, but ultimately, they asked the question it's their right.

  • Accepting an answer says nothing about the correctness thereof. This is true of all accepted answers. There are wrong accepted answers even on sites like Stackoverflow. That's because even though the answer was wrong, it's the one that the OP thought helped them the most. If a wrong answer is accepted then vote it down and move on, comment if you have something constructive to point out.

Suffice to say, if you answer questions by driveby users, there's a good chance you're not going to get the +15 for an accept, comfort yourself knowing that you'll likely have the highest voted answer and it might help someone who arrives via google later on.

  • "Ultimately this is asking for a model change that's not really a big deal." Says you ... Plenty of people on MSO think it should be implemented. Plus, I want the badge, not the +15. I would give 50 rep for the badge. The enlightened badge is hard enough to get, never mind the scenario I gave in my OP.
    – user3961
    Commented Sep 12, 2013 at 0:28
  • 2
    @fredsbend it'll be worth the wait if you do eventually get it. They aren't as hard as you might think though, they are by far the easiest silver badge and I get them regularly on the RPG site where I'm an active poster. And I've got plenty of +10 answers there they may never get accepted. Heck, this one might even turn into a guru if the OP ever comes back and accepts it.
    – wax eagle
    Commented Sep 12, 2013 at 1:33
  • Yeah, I'm actually noticing that some of my accepted answers will get the enlightened badge if they ever reach the votes, which might happen in time. The user on your linked post was active 17 hours ago. Ping him and ask him to accept. I have done it before with mixed results.
    – user3961
    Commented Sep 12, 2013 at 1:37
  • 4
    @fredsbend I will never, ever pressure someone to accept an answer. If someone is active and not accepting I assume they have good reasons.
    – wax eagle
    Commented Sep 12, 2013 at 1:45
  • Is forgetting about it a good reason? I didn't say pressure him. I said say something like this. I personally wait a good while to accept answers to see what else comes in. Then about once a month I look and see if anything I have asked has an answer that deserves my accept. I could see myself forgetting about a particular question for more than a few months.
    – user3961
    Commented Sep 12, 2013 at 1:49
  • 1
    I'd prefer someone not accept an answer at all than accept one sooner than their ready. Sure some folks might be unaware of the mechanic, but that's best discovered on their own or away form a post. I'm far more likely to post a comment encouraging someone to wait to accept an answer.
    – wax eagle
    Commented Sep 12, 2013 at 11:51

I'm not a fan of the way accepted answers work on this site, but I think your suggestion is going the wrong direction. The original purpose of the feature was explained thusly:

The question owner is not required to accept an answer to their question. We view accepting an answer as a simple social convention, a little informal "thank you" between the asker and answerer, a virtual tip o' the hat to that person whose response, as the question owner, you personally found the most helpful.

That doesn't mean the community will agree with your choice. But as the question owner, it is your choice to make.

We want to move away from having a One True Answer™ and toward having answers that are reviewed by the community as a whole (i.e., voting). So that I won't be the one to tell you this, I'll let Jeff say it:

Although it’s fine to ask and answer your own question—this is specifically encouraged in the faq—you'll have to rely on the community to upvote your answer and validate it as correct. You, sir (or madam), are biased. Of course your answer to your own question will be the best possible answer. You wrote the darn thing!

Basically, the feature you propose would be implemented only over my strenuous objections. (Although, if you refuse to accept this very answer, I might change my mind. ;-P)

On Badges

At the risk of being called an old fogey once again1, I'll quote Jeff again:

The badge system exists for two reasons:

  • to teach new users how Stack Exchange works
  • to encourage activities we view as positive to the community

The Enlightened badge encourages people to answer quickly and teach them to edit their answers to satisfy the asker. It's probably a bit overcomplicated to earn, but that's part of what makes it a silver badge. The Nice Answer badge (which is what you got without the OP accepting your answer) is only bronze.


Bear in mind that badges are (almost) never awarded arbitrarily by people; they are always earned by achieving a measurable numeric goal queried out of the site database. They are based on data! You don't have to worry about currying a moderator or another user’s favors to earn badges; just use the site like you normally would, and the site itself will bestow these badges upon you. That said, badges are supposed to be fun, too!

  1. ;-) Seriously though, we are reluctant to mess with Jeff's original design for the same reason the farmer who owns a goose that lays golden eggs ought to be careful not to make a meal of it.
  • As always, Jon is far more eloquent and I am capable of
    – wax eagle
    Commented Sep 12, 2013 at 0:33
  • @wax eagle: Quoting Jeff is the secret to my success. Commented Sep 12, 2013 at 0:35
  • If it really is such a "personal" thing, then why would certain badges be awarded only in the case that they are accepted? When was that even written? I would guess years ago when the SE network was quite a different thing than it is now. Maybe even before SE when it was just SO. I don't see the quote from Jeff as relevant.
    – user3961
    Commented Sep 12, 2013 at 0:36
  • @fredsbend: You might as well know that Jeff's quotes are usually at least relevant. Those old blog posts serve as something akin to a design document for the network. Commented Sep 12, 2013 at 1:08
  • Yes, badges are fun ... when you get them. On your footnote, the comments show that the way SO has worked in the past is different than how it works today. "Jeff's original design" no longer exists in this case. Is Jeff still involved in the network? If we are to appeal to his words than having his exact words on this issue is appropriate here. I mean, its really kind of a cop out to quote something Jeff said four years ago that might be in contrast with what I am saying now as the answer to this feature request.
    – user3961
    Commented Sep 12, 2013 at 1:20
  • On the badge encouraging certain behaviors: If there is no auto-accept feature I am no longer interested in answering (quickly, anyway) questions from new users. That's probably not the encouragement the badge is going for. In fact, it is the exact opposite.
    – user3961
    Commented Sep 12, 2013 at 1:22
  • @JonEricson it's a good secret :)
    – wax eagle
    Commented Sep 12, 2013 at 1:29
  • 5
    Speaking as someone who has seen his answers accepted months or years after the fact in some cases, and has plenty of "enlightened" badges for answers that took just as long to hit 10 votes, often after multiple revisions... I stand by this philosophy. There's something to be said for badges that encourage both prompt action and patience.
    – Shog9
    Commented Sep 12, 2013 at 1:30
  • @fredsbend Jeff is still a part owner though he is no longer involved in the day to day operations of SEI. However, his vision still matters here, maybe not as much as it did 2 years ago, but he still wrote a lot of the essential documents that govern SE's core philosophies.
    – wax eagle
    Commented Sep 12, 2013 at 1:31
  • @Shog9 You mean the patience of waiting for a user to possibly come back and the patience of waiting for an accepted answer to gain enough votes. See what I just told wax eagle
    – user3961
    Commented Sep 12, 2013 at 1:39
  • I think I'm starting to make peace with this, but I still would like to see something that tries to account for the drive by users never accepting.
    – user3961
    Commented Sep 12, 2013 at 1:40
  • Yes, @fredsbend.
    – Shog9
    Commented Sep 12, 2013 at 1:41

This might be better on MSO, but here's an idea for a tiny bit of incentive.

here's my suggestion:

do not award popular question badges if the question has high points answers and no selected answer.

That way people couldn't get badges for popular questions that they neglect. Now, it is possible for a question to be "popular" without a good answer, but it's unlikely.

Might be work making a data explorer query to find out if these exist.

  • I avoided MSO because they would just close it as dupe and no one would actually answer me with respect to at least this site. I don't understand your suggestion; I mean to say I don't understand what you are saying.
    – user3961
    Commented Sep 12, 2013 at 18:39
  • forgot to the word "award", I'm just syaing, there shouldn't be popular question badges awarded to people who don't care enough to respond to popular answers of their popular question.
    – Peter Turner Mod
    Commented Sep 12, 2013 at 21:17

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