There are numerous examples of questions on TeX.SX and SX sites where the OP has asked a question, some one has provided at least one complete solution but the OP has not accepted any of the answers.

Question Is it possible for a moderator to accept an answer for the OP in such cases? Alternatively, should it possible for the community to vote that a particular answer to a question be marked as correct when the question is "abandoned" by the OP?

My question is motivated by #244645, which is exactly of this type. People are currently voting to close this question on the basis of the question being "too broad", and hence implicitly unanswerable. This is wrong, however, because the question is easy to answer and some has done exactly this. The "correct" thing to do would be to give the person who answered the question (in this case Harish Kumar), credit for what they have done.

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    Note that marking an answer as accepted doesn't stop a question being unsuitable. In the case you point to, we have the common issue of 'draw it for me': it's hard to see anyone else being able to find this question by searching for a similar case. (That does not mean the answer is not good.)
    – Joseph Wright Mod
    May 24, 2015 at 5:40
  • i see that the question you cite is rather recent (though more than a few days old), so perhaps a bit more patience would be in order. but what do you think is appropriate for a question that is a year or more old, and the op hasn't returned to the site for half a year or more? i get the impression that some people (relatively few, thankfully) join simply to get the answer to one question, then disappear as soon as a usable answer appears, without upvoting or accepting. (there is a "too old" reason for closure, though i can't remember seeing it used.) May 24, 2015 at 12:50
  • @barbarabeeton Yes I probably chose a bad example as by an "abandoned question" I really meant one that had been left for 1+ months without the OP coming back to mark an answer as being correct. I don't like the growing number of questions on TeX.SX that, technically, have no answer -- especially when there is an answer that clearly does answer the question.
    – user30471
    May 25, 2015 at 8:22
  • @Andrew Feel free to answer unanswered questions :-) As I note below my answer, questions are answered if they have upvoted responses whether or not they have an accepted answer.
    – Joseph Wright Mod
    May 25, 2015 at 10:13

2 Answers 2


No. Accepting an answer is purely the decision of the person asking the question, and does not have to reflect what others feel is the 'best' answer. It simply is a way of saying that it is the answer which helped the person asking the question the most. Of course, this can mean that a question with a good answer never gets an accepted answer: that is 'status bydesign' for the 'back end' of the site.

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    As an addendum to this, if we were to allow moderators to accept answers when none have yet been selected, it would seem that then moderators should go in and chose the "correct" answer in those cases where the OP has selected a suboptimal solution. I say, leave the system as it is. The votes clearly show what the community values without any need to a selected answer.
    – A.Ellett
    May 24, 2015 at 15:07
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    I wasn't suggesting that it should be possible to change what the OP has selected as being the best answer. Rather, when the OP hasn't marked any of the answers as being correct then after some "long" period (1 month, 2 months, ...) that the community should be able to select an answer on the OPs behalf. I hate having unanswered questions...especially when they do have a perfectly good answer! I"m not sure what you mean by "status by design"... This said, I'll mark this as correct in a day or two failing a better answer:)
    – user30471
    May 25, 2015 at 8:26
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    @Andrew From the point of view of the site (for example tex.stackexchange.com/unanswered), questions are only unanswered if they have no upvoted answers. Having an accepted answer is not the same. What I mean about 'status bydesign' is that an issue report would be marked by the developers as 'bydesign': 'This is a deliberate design feature of the site'.
    – Joseph Wright Mod
    May 25, 2015 at 8:34

I strongly agree with @Andrew, the point is not taking away the possibility to people of choosing the best answers, but there are plenty of cases in which people are satisfied with answers but they just forget (mostly because they're new, or also because they are not really interested in the community but just in a single question, then they'll fly away and so on...) to click on the best answer (see also here).

This create plenty of questions which is not clear if they're solved or not, while if a question is solved it would be extremely useful to know (by seeing that the OP has choosen a best answer) whether there's a missing answer over there or not.

Maybe more clarity should be make about the fact that choosing a best answer is not just a way to say thanks to people who answered, but also to distinguish solved question from unsolved, which is necessary for the encyclopedic intent of the TeX.se community (in order not to have to ask the same questions all the time, and to help people who look for old question without a solution to answer them not to find questions already solved but in which the OP has just commented "That worked, thanks!".

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