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There are over 6,500 questions with no answer here, and over 8,000 practically unanswered. I tried one, but I have seen that nobody even takes a look at old questions. Do you know why? How does the date influence the usefulness of a question/answer?

Do you have an interest that most questions be properly answered, here? Why should one waste time answering an old question if he knows that, if he is lucky, he will get one vote and is sure that, even if his answer is right, he has no chance of seeing it accepted?

At other sites questions with no accept are awarded by the community, when the OP can't be bothered to accept an answer other members decide the accept. Old-question OP's here are usually long inactive, do you know why isn't that policy followed here?

I had prepared some data, but I realized that probably you are right, I am in the wrong site.

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    $\begingroup$ Related: Answering old questions $\endgroup$ – John Rennie Mar 28 '15 at 7:09
  • $\begingroup$ I'm sure the question of accepting an answer when the OP has gone missing has been discussed here before, though I can't find it. My recollection is that the SE view states only the OP can accept a question, and there are no plans to allow old questions to be flagged as answered by anyone else. $\endgroup$ – John Rennie Mar 28 '15 at 7:14
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    $\begingroup$ @JohnRennie, why downvoting my question? what is wrong in asking, here? $\endgroup$ – user76031 Mar 28 '15 at 7:17
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    $\begingroup$ Not my downvote. Having said that, a downvote in the meta is not a criticism as it would be in the main site. It just expresses disagreement. The two (at the time of writing) downvotes just mean two people disagree with you. $\endgroup$ – John Rennie Mar 28 '15 at 7:19
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    $\begingroup$ @JohnRennie, disagreement with what? How can one disagree with a question? You disagree with me-what? $\endgroup$ – user76031 Mar 28 '15 at 7:21
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    $\begingroup$ @JohnRennie, It's nice to see that members who write comments at Meta here are all noble idealists, who post "..just to share knowlwdge", eager to educate selfish students, like David Z, for example. But someone was grumbling in another post, because : " I put far more effort,..., and that answer has so far scored just a single upvote" , was it you?, were you not satisfied, there, just by the joy of sharing knowledge , then? do you mildly disagree with that post? $\endgroup$ – user75744 Mar 28 '15 at 8:45
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    $\begingroup$ @whizkid: the point of the question you refer to was that simple answers get more rep points than they deserve. In other words I was complaining about being awarded too much rep. While I imagine many of us would like to think of ourselves as noble, and maybe idealists too, the reality is that we are but human and our feet are made of clay. Still, if you look at the activity of the more active answerers I think we largely manage to avoid the cynicism that your comment displays. $\endgroup$ – John Rennie Mar 28 '15 at 9:01
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    $\begingroup$ @JohnRennie, it is quite unfair and definitely not your style to say that my comment displays cynicism. To clear the air, let me say that admire you, your engagement, many of your posts and, up to know, your style. I'm used to research and I write hard facts: the result of my search. Another result reads: "That means no matter how much we claim reputation doesn't really matter, the reality is that it is an important motivator.". If that gives the impression of cynicism I am not to blame. What is cynical indeed is to berate a student who'd like a fair chance of seeing his post accepted. $\endgroup$ – user75744 Mar 28 '15 at 9:36
  • $\begingroup$ OK, I can see my comment might have come over as harsher than I intended. $\endgroup$ – John Rennie Mar 28 '15 at 10:20
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    $\begingroup$ @JohnRennie, with due respect, how can it come over harsher than it already is, if you say to Charles that he is in the wrong site if he writes an answer wishing it to be upvoted and, who knows, accepted? And DavidZ writes: "If you consider it a waste of time to answer a question unless that answer will get accepted, then you're probably here for the wrong reasons" why do you expect that a kid be more noble and altruistic than you grown-ups? $\endgroup$ – user75736 Mar 28 '15 at 10:37
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    $\begingroup$ @gwen: I don't want to be a grinch. Reputation is a proxy for peer approval, and I suspect anyone who really doesn't care about peer approval probably isn't a warm and cuddly person. If you have limited time to answer questions then I can see the argument for focussing on the questions that will earn the most rep. But if someone's only motivation for answering is the rep then, well, I find myself wondering how warm and cuddly that person is. $\endgroup$ – John Rennie Mar 28 '15 at 12:26
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    $\begingroup$ when the OP can't be bothered to accept an answer other members decide the accept. I declare shenanigans and request a citation that this has ever occurred. $\endgroup$ – Kyle Kanos Mar 28 '15 at 12:33
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    $\begingroup$ John may not be telling you that you are on the wrong site, but I am. Policy on the ownership of questions and the ability to accept is a network-wide thing and as such the question on meta.stackexchange.com is the place where it will actually get thrashed out. Or more to the point has been thrashed out for a few years now. You can go there and make your case, but this post is not going to achieve anything. $\endgroup$ – dmckee Mar 28 '15 at 17:21
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Do you know why?

Because each person can only look at so many questions, and people generally tend to look at the questions with recent activity.

How does the date influence the usefulness of a question/answer?

Probably after some time the question is no longer useful to the original poster (although this is not guaranteed). But it can still be useful to other people. I often look at old questions in the course of my research, or while answering new questions, for example.

You have no interest that most questions be properly answered, here?

Certainly not the case. We would like as many questions to be answered (well) as possible. Old, new, it makes no difference.

Why should one waste time answering an old question if he knows that , if he is lucky, he will get one vote and is sure that, even if his answer is right, he has no chance of seeing it accepted?

"Waste"?

  1. How do you justify the conclusion that you will get one vote if you're lucky? If your answer is good, it will probably get a few votes. The age of the question has little to do with this.
  2. If you consider it a waste of time to answer a question unless that answer will get accepted, then you're probably here for the wrong reasons. This site is not meant for people who want validation. It is meant for people who want to share knowledge.

At other sites questions with no accept are awarded by the community, why is not that policy implemented here?

I'm not sure what you mean. The top position in the answer list is automatically given to the answer with the highest vote total - that is, the one that the community thinks is best - unless the question asker overrides that by accepting another answer.

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    $\begingroup$ DavidZ, kids are educated not with words but by setting a good example to them. Can you tell Charles how many no-answer old questions you have answered recently, or at all, please? $\endgroup$ – user75736 Mar 28 '15 at 10:40
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    $\begingroup$ @gwen: And how would that be relevant? David says: "We would like as many questions to be answered (well) as possible. Old, new, it makes no difference." Such a preference is not reliant on any personal behaviour. For example, I would like more high-level questions as well as good experimental questions here. That doesn't mean I have to ask them. $\endgroup$ – ACuriousMind Mar 28 '15 at 13:56
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    $\begingroup$ @ACuriousMind, you are a student too, just a little older. You know, the most humiliating thing is that you are all talking as if I were a moron. I am not dumb, what John Rennie and David are saying is: "We would like as many questions to be answered (well) as possible. Old..." we leave to 'Charlie' , who is so mature and doesn't need 'validation', New.., ...leave them to us, because we are normal humans and we need a more important motivator. I expect to read someone saying: I usually do that, I have already answered 100 old questions, and I assure you it's a grat thrill! $\endgroup$ – user76031 Mar 28 '15 at 16:31
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    $\begingroup$ @Charles: You believe that people aren't answering old question because that doesn't give much reputation? That's not at all how I (or John or David, I believe) see it. Old questions remain unanswered because they're either hard (so we don't know the answer) or uninteresting (we don't think the value added to the site is worth the time to type the answer). The prolific answerers are online regularly, so they will have answered all questions they find interesting long before these questions become "old". Thus, it's really no surprise that there aren't many people answering old questions. $\endgroup$ – ACuriousMind Mar 28 '15 at 16:39
  • $\begingroup$ @Charles: Well, you are conversely putting words in my mouth, since I never told you that you are in the wrong site. The question why you should answer old questions has been answered twofold: 1. It is not evident that votes on answers to old questions are fewer than on new ones. 2. Votes are not the only reason to write an answer. I don't know what more of an answer you want. $\endgroup$ – ACuriousMind Mar 28 '15 at 16:57
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    $\begingroup$ @ACuriousMind, "You believe that people aren't answering old question because that doesn't give much reputation? That's not at all.." Please, don't put words into my mouth, I told you, I'm no 'charlie'. I asked a simple question and all I got is John Rennie telling me I am in the wrong site, and David I am here for the wrong reason if I'd like to have a fair chance to get an accept, and you are also downvoting my question. If you have an answer, reply in a post and give some straight facts and not quibbles: it is as simple as that. Tomorrow I'll give you some data. $\endgroup$ – user76031 Mar 28 '15 at 17:11
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DavidZ and other mods/higher-rep guys are better placed than me to provide an appropriate answer to your first two paragraphs. But I want to make a small point concerning the feasibility of the last part of your question, namely

... when the OP can't be bothered to accept an answer other members decide the accept ...

I would like to draw your attention towards the fact that there is a message that prompts up when you bring your cursor near the 'accept' mark in an answer:

Accept Message

In comparison, if you bring it close to the upvote arrow, the message reads:

Upvote Message

Clearly therefore, the scope of an 'upvote' is different from that of 'accept'. If I am not the OP (asker), and I upvote an answer, it only means that I found the answer useful (or informative, or that I learned something from this). But only the OP can tell whether or not it solved his/her problem, and addressed everything he/she wanted addressed, up to his/her complete satisfaction.

Thus, no one other than the OP can, in principle, "decide the accept".

Hope that helps :)

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    $\begingroup$ NB: The Help Center about the accepted answer states as much: not that it's necessarily correct, just the most helpful to the OP. $\endgroup$ – Kyle Kanos Mar 28 '15 at 18:53
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    $\begingroup$ @KyleKanos - Thanks. Yes, and only the OP can adjudge what is most helpful to him/her. $\endgroup$ – 299792458 Mar 28 '15 at 18:55
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I thought I remembered having seen some discussion of this. It's in the question vote to answer?, though that's not a very search friendly title so no surprise it took me some time to find it.

Have a read through dmckee's answer to this question, and in particular follow the links to the mother meta. Although there has never been a definitive statement by the Stack Exchange team they have not implemented a community accept feature despite numerous highly upvoted pleas for one. This suggests it's not a feature they regard as a priority. Maybe it will be implemented one day, though I wouldn't hold your breath.

In the mean time note that answering an old question will bump the question up the rankings, though I don't know how big an effect this is. Answers to old questions also show in the review queue for users with enough rep, and I do upvote any such answers I consider good (though sadly many answers to old questions are, well, rubbish). The upvotes boost the question rankings and further enhance the visibility of your answer.

There is also a Necromancer badge for answering a question more than 60 days old, and 475 of these badges have been awarded. So not only is there considerable activity in the answering of old questions, but since award of the badge requires at least 5 upvotes there is clearly considerable rewards to be had by doing so. On a side note I note that both David and myself, arch villains though we may be, both have the Necromancer badge.

More broadly, I think we need to distinguish between questions that have no answer and questions that have answers but no accepted answer. The latter normally means the OP is AWOL or just doesn't care, and in these cases there is little we can do. While the OCD side of me deplores perfectly good answers being left unaccepted this doesn't lessen the value of the site to the physics community. Accepting an answer doesn't mean it's right - it just means the OP thought that was the most helpful answer. A more reliable guide is the number of upvotes the answer has attracted.

If a question has no answers that probably means either the question is really hard or that it's really uninteresting. Anyone giving a good answer to an old hard question is likely to find themselves amply rewarded (as the number of Necromancer badges shows). Conversely, if the question is uninteresting it's likely your answer will be ignored.

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    $\begingroup$ Third option for old questions with no answers -- those interested didn't see it before it got buried. So editing/answering the old question will move it back to the front page, which gives interested people a chance to notice it again. $\endgroup$ – tpg2114 Mar 28 '15 at 19:46

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