20

Probably this is a duplicate of 221 unanswered questions but now there are 1408 unanswered questions! This mean that the problem far from being solved, is getting worse.

A frequent type of very old unanswered question is an occasional users that make a confuse question and never reply to comments asking for clarification. In this case close as "not a real question" has been proposed since this mean a 'free' downvote from community that accelerate the elimination of lower quality zero answer questions. I think that is a good solution, but in practice is not working well, whereas another policies as closing duplicates are very effective (a clear duplicate often remain open only a few minutes). May be this policy must appear more clearly in the help pages or somewhere?

But more many other old questions are legitimate questions that has been already solved long time ago with a comment. Close as "off-topic", "not a real question" or "too localized" seem inappropiate in these case, but after months or years of no activity, their unanswered status is only useful to hiding the questions that still need an answer.

What is correct way to handle this questions to remove from the "unanswered" group? Answer "This question has been solved in the comments" although the answer will never be accepted or up voted? Put a flag? Down vote? Vote to close for the above concepts? Nothing of this seem appropriate in this case. What about a new feature: Vote to change a comment in answer and/or mark the question as solved in the title?

  • 1
    I also think you can look at it from this perspective: if the percentage per total questions stays the same, there is nothing to worry about... :) – Count Zero Jun 29 '13 at 19:37
20

Not all good, on-topic questions have answers, so it's important to remember that over time it's to be expected that the number of unanswered questions will increase. That said, if there are answers hidden in comments then the correct thing to do is move them to the right place. This is one of the things that happens during 'Answer the Unanswered': there are a few possible paths.

  • If the answer-in-comments is made by someone who is active on the site, leave a comment to them asking them to make an answer.
  • If that fails, or the answer looks like it's from someone no longer active, write an answer yourself and mark as Community Wiki (no rep for you: just 'helping out')

It's also important to consider that some questions may still best be closed. For example, the convention is that issues solved by updating packages are usually closed. So if the comments lead to such a solution, closure may still be the correct approach.

  • What would be the new close reason for questions solved with an update now that “too localized” no longer exists? – clemens Jun 30 '13 at 10:10
  • @cgnieder Either an answer to that effect or 'off-topic' as the consensus is that issues which are fixed bugs are 'outside of the scope we cover'. – Joseph Wright Jun 30 '13 at 10:12
  • @JosephWright: what to do if the owner of the question is not around anymore? – masu Oct 9 '13 at 14:30
  • @masu It's the owner of the answer-in-comment you need to get hold of. If they are not 'about' we just make a CW answer. – Joseph Wright Oct 9 '13 at 16:15
  • @JosephWright I was asking what if the asker wouldn't happen to accept the submitted answer, so the question remains without accepted answers. – masu Oct 9 '13 at 16:47
  • 1
    @masu Accepting answers is purely at the discretion of the question asker: this has been covered on Meta-SO and I think here before. It's upvotes that the system tracks for 'answered' questions, not accepted answers. – Joseph Wright Oct 9 '13 at 16:48
  • @JosephWright And what to with abandoned questions which are not clear enough to answer (questions in comment but the asked didn't answer them)? For example this. – masu Oct 10 '13 at 10:28
  • @masu Flag/vote to close as 'unclear' – Joseph Wright Oct 10 '13 at 10:32
7

I would actually appreciate such a feature like "accept this comment as an answer", as I had this problem just a few moments ago. Luckily, the poster of the comment reacted to the request for writing his comment as a proper answer, but a simple button would make it really quicker and easier.

I would even approve the reverse way like some sort of "this answer is actually just a comment" -feature. To prevent griefing, one could design it so that the answer needs at least 5 downvotes to be unlocked for degradation.

  • 9
    Most people who add comments are fairly active on the site, so a comment suggesting that they turn it into an answer is usually acted upon. Automatically turning comments into answers isn't a good idea, I think, because they are usually too brief to count as full answers. See Why do people answer in comments? for some discussion on why people comment instead of answering. – Alan Munn Jul 2 '13 at 0:21
  • I could imagine comments with simple solutions that the owner hates convert in answers because are not enough clever-complicated-long-verbose-bizarre for his ego, or need reputation and little votes are expected, or he fears receiving downvotes with a so simple answer, ...or any other reason. Anyway, I think that the owner's desire must be respected. But at the same time, the owner of the OP sould have also the right to decide if his OP is solved or not. Accept a comment (and left it "as is") under restricted conditions could be a better workaround. – Fran Jul 2 '13 at 3:40
  • @Fran You think the wrong way I believe. People do have ego here, but very few of them are egoist. The reasons are discribed in the post linked by Alan, and ego is not one of them ;) – yo' Jul 4 '13 at 6:54
  • 1
    dervonnebenaan: There's a "convert answer into comment" feature, it's called flagging. This is, I think, best descripbed in Correct flagging (or: bad answers are answers, too) – yo' Jul 4 '13 at 6:56
  • @tohecz Hey, I was not my aim reproaching anything to anyone! I really admire people with enough knowledge to disregard their own valid solutions. I love this site just because is plagued by this people, giving awesome solutions. As you wrote, ego is not egoism, is altruism is this case. As answers, the comments are also a lost of valuable time helping others. – Fran Jul 4 '13 at 9:20

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .