15

Background

Recently, I got this comment on a question of mine after accepting an answer:

Thanks for asking the question. In general, it's best to wait a few days between asking the question and accepting the answer. That gives time for a variety of good answers to roll in. Once you accept an answer, it tends to discourage future ones.

I checked out Meta.SE for conventions on this, and there seems to be no hard and fast rule. However, given that this was asked from the perspective of stackoverflow, I wanted to know the convention for this stack exchange.

Question

What is the conventional time that the asker of a question needs to give before accepting an answer?

  • 7
    Whenever you want to. You can change which you accept at any time. – Stormblessed Aug 26 at 14:22
  • 2
    Across all of SE, I like to wait at least 24 to 48 hours to give everyone a chance to participate and a chance to comment on why answers may or may not be correct. People get upset if you accept their answer and then unaccept it later for a better one. – SurpriseDog Aug 27 at 18:54
19

Even though you can always change your accepted answer at any time, most people read an "accepted answer" as a signal that you're satisfied with that answer and aren't really looking for anything else. Therefore, people are generally less likely to take the time to write an answer to a question that already has an accepted answer.

By accepting an answer very quickly, then, you reduce the change of getting another, better answer. It also contributes to the "fastest gun in the west" problem, where people who post answers fastest win out over people who take their time to research a better supported answer.

In the end, accepting an answer is totally up to the asker, so you're fully within your rights to accept one right away. But, in the interests of collecting the "best" answers to serve as a resource to everyone, not just the original asker, it's generally encouraged that you wait a day or two before accepting an answer.

  • 1
    Also note that you can always accept a different answer or retract an acceptance all together. I tend to accept when it answers the question sufficiently but won't hesitate to accept a new answer if it's better. – JJ for Transparency and Monica Aug 28 at 7:52
8

As far as I know, there are no specific rules on this, but it's generally seen as sensible to wait for 24 hours on any stack so that people from all time zones have an equal chance to chip in, and aren't discouraged from giving their perspective. That said, it really is a personal choice.

5

There's no hard-and-fast rule,1 but I've always found that 48 hours, at a minimum, is a good length of time to wait before accepting an answer. This is for two reasons:

  1. Politics.SE (like any *.SE) has users from all over the world, and, more specifically, from time zones all over the world. Waiting 48 hours before accepting an answer gives users from every corner of the globe a chance to answer your question, and then gives them another chance a day later in case they weren't available the first day (or vice versa).
  2. A good question will tend to accumulate answers, including good, potentially-acceptance-worthy answers, for as long as it's on the homepage; once it drops off onto page 2, the answers you've already gotten are usually all the ones you're going to get for that question.2 Accepting an answer often has the same effect; even a question that's still on the homepage tends to stop accumulating answers once one of them has been accepted. Thus, it's generally best to hold off on accepting an answer until such time as there's little chance of a better one coming along. I've found that most questions tend to fall off the homepage by the 48-hour mark, by which point you can usually feel safe accepting an answer;3 the occasional very good question will hang on for longer, in which case I'd recommend waiting to accept an answer until it finally does drop to page 2.

1: One exception - if the answer you want to accept is your own, you have to wait at least 48 hours to do so (this is a hard limit in the site software).

2: There are occasional, welcome exceptions, but this rule generally holds true.

3: Assuming, of course, that any of the answers it's accumulated so far are actually worthy of acceptance.

1

>1,000 words:

enter image description here
(xkcd.com)

An "Accept" does not deter new answers, contrary to what is believed. There was/is even a hat for it in Winter Bash (answering after an accepted answer, and your answer gets accepted).

I think the help center sums it up nicely:

Accepting an answer is not meant to be a definitive and final statement indicating that the question has now been answered perfectly. It simply means that the author received an answer that worked for them personally. Not every user comes back to accept an answer, and of those who do, they might not change the accepted answer even if a newer, better answer comes along later.

(Emphasis mine.)

When you get that kind of answer, simply don't hesitate to accept. It won't drive other answers away. If a better solution comes along, feel free to change the accept.

  • This would be a perfect system, but generally people careless to write an answer or even look at the question if there is already an accepted answer. – Kami Kaze Sep 5 at 11:52

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