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Question authors are asked to "Accept" an answer to let others know that you have received a good answer to your question (see the faq).

But accepting an answer too quickly has an unwanted side effect that it discourages others from improving on the early-posted answers. You should to allow enough time to let people provide the best possible answer and to let the voting and other activity take effect.

I would suggest waiting at least 24 to 48 hours before accepting an answer. That gives time for multiple answers to be offered. You should choose the best one, not simply the quickest one.

Users are guided by the behaviors they see on this site. Accepting an answer within minutes sends the wrong message.

Don't turn this into a race to answer first; but answer well.

  • 1
    One oddity of the Stack Exchange system is that if you ask a question and later vote on an answer, it adds a little popup that says in effect, "Why don't you accept this answer?" I get that questioners should wait before accepting an answer, but the system encourages not waiting. – Jon Ericson Jun 8 '11 at 23:27
  • @Jon Ericson - That is known as an annoyance. @Robert Cartaino - why don't you guys practice what you are preaching here. You telling others to wait to accept an answer but allowing the system to accept answers right away defeats the purpose. Put code in place that does not allow for answers to be accepted until >= the NEXT day. Then people can actually post and learn...and then implement this across the entire stackexchange sites including stackoverflow. – JonH Jun 9 '11 at 17:26
  • @JonH - That's no good for the disciplines where there is a single correct answer or obvious "best" way to do something. – baka Jun 10 '11 at 13:56
  • @baka: You assume the questioner knows the "best" way to do something. Quite a stretch if you ask me... – Jon Ericson Jun 10 '11 at 16:18
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On some of the stack exchange sites, this has turned into a race to be first to post anything, then to go back and edit your questions with things that some of the other posters have added.

Marking the answer accepted tends to make other posters hesitate to bother posting an answer because they feel it won't get any attention.

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I think this is a problem on every stackexchange. My general rule of thumb is to keep an eye on the view count and wait until at the question has at least 50-100 views before accepting any answers. Occasionally, you may need to wait even longer to find a useful answer.

  • I would disagree with the 50-100 views until accepting. There are questions on the site that were asked in June 2011 and still don't have 50 views. – WienerDog Mar 16 '12 at 18:50
  • I'd rather wait for a great answer than settle for a quick one, but that's just my philosophy. you don't have to do what i do. – baka Mar 16 '12 at 21:48
  • Low views doesn't mean that a question hasn't had enough time, I'm just saying that if this were a general rule unpopular/specific questions would needlessly go marked as unanwsered solely based on the fact that they have a low amount of views, not that the answer wasn't good enough. For example this question has less than 50 views, but the answer provided is perfectly fine, and rightly deserves to be marked as the answer. – WienerDog Mar 16 '12 at 22:04
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Could be useful information to add to the FAQ, or even something when accepting answers.

I don't think you'd want to restrict answers being accepted though. Sometimes a really good answer just arrives and your question is answered; any other answers are just noise at that point, and it's more important that people indicate they have accepted an answer than to leave the question open and hanging.

  • Correct, I am not advocating restricting the acceptance of answers; only showing a bit of patience and restraint. Don't turn this into a race to answer first; but answer well. Hey, I'm adding that to my answer. Done. – Robert Cartaino Jun 8 '11 at 22:37

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