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I don't think this is a particularly big issue, but I'm curious as to what the accepted protocol or what-have-you on old questions that do not have and accepted answer, despite having good answers. For example, this question, asked by a user last seen last year in July.

My concerns are threefold, of more or less equal importance to me personally:

  • Rep for the answerer
  • Site statistics
  • A little bit of an OCD desire for completeness

I'm talking about questions that have a very low probability of having new activity on them, and with OP being away from the site for a long time.

I think it's possible to start a bounty then award it by accepting an answer, and that's all well and good, but the point of setting a bounty is not necessarily to just award out an accept answer check.

Of course, the next problem is who gets to decide what the accepted answer is? The one with the most upvotes?

  • I do not think that bounty affects check mark… or does it? – Tsuyoshi Ito Aug 31 '12 at 22:36
  • @TsuyoshiIto No it doesn't. – Alenanno Sep 2 '12 at 14:47
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Only the question author has the power to accept answers. Not even moderators can force an answer to show up as accepted. Several feature requests have been proposed to allow the community to force an answer to be accepted to handle situations where the author never returned to the site, but they've been declined with the reasoning:

Votes and sorting are the de-facto community answer.

People visiting a question with no accepted answer will see answers sorted by votes (unless they are using one of the custom sort views), and the answer the community likes the best will be on top.

Regarding your specific concerns: yeah, it sucks that an answerer doesn't get that 15 bonus rep, but there's not much you can do about it. A bounty won't force acceptance of an answer, but it can be used to give additional rep (50+) to the answerer if you really like their answer (there is even a specific bounty reason for this case).

For site statistics, I believe a question doesn't count as unanswered as long as it has at least one answer with a score greater than zero. Thus, not having a green checkmark won't hurt our site stats.

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