On most SE sites, when someone suggests an answer to your question you can check it fairly quickly. Certainly with a lot of the IT related questions you can typically verify if something works in minutes to hours, and so you can usually decide an answer is correct and accept it quite quickly.

Here, some questions can be accepted quite quickly, but other classes of question you can't verify that the answer is correct until you're actually there. Depending on how organised you were about asking the question, that could potentially mean it's many weeks until you're in a position to accept. (I've got 3 questions open for example, which I won't be ready to accept answers on or update to indicate problems with them for another week)

My hunch is that this isn't an issue, but as it's different to other SE sites it may need to be in the FAQ to explain this to people coming in from elsewhere in the network. What do we think, is waiting to accept this kind of question until you try the suggestion correct, and if so is a FAQ entry about it the right way to explain this potential difference with the site?

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    An example to make us think: I ask a very specific question about a small festival that happens every 100 years in Tibet, then my trip is cancelled and I can not check for the validity of the answers... my question will probably remained unanswered forever, but that might be better than accepting an answer that just looks good but might be wrong.
    – nic
    Commented Jul 20, 2011 at 2:35

2 Answers 2


I don't think it's an issue. There are both accepted answers and high voted answers for third parties browsing. It may be an issue for the answerer wanting to bag the rep points but patience is a virtue and all.

I've got a few questions with good but not accepted answers on StackOverflow because they were old problems I never solved but I also didn't have any code around to put them to the test. Some day I will sit down and play with them though and then I'll definitely accept them.

For answers which cannot be decided to be right without some kind of external check it is definitely wrong to accept them without checking.

... or you can accept the one you're pretty sure is right and unaccept it or accept another one instead of it turns out not to be right after all.

Also I believe there is a time limit after which the highest voted answer is accepted automatically by the SE system. Can somebody verify this?

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    +1. Temporarily accept highest voted / answers you think answer your query, and if it doesn't turn out to be so choose another one or add you own answer. Commented Jul 17, 2011 at 4:17
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    there is no auto-accept, and nor can high-rep users or moderators force an accept, even if the asker is no longer around. If someone offers a bounty, the bounty can be auto-awarded (possibly only half of it?) to a highly-voted but not accepted answer, but the only way an answer gets the green check is if the original asker awards it. Commented Jul 17, 2011 at 12:06
  • Thanks Kate. I thought I came across the auto-accept somewhere in SE reading at one point but I must've been mistaken. Commented Jul 17, 2011 at 16:40
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    I've heard experts-exchange has auto-accept. Could that be what you were thinking of?
    – Golden Cuy
    Commented Mar 3, 2012 at 9:30
  • Expert-sexchange has auto-accept? Ohhhhhhkay, I'm just going to back away from my keyboard now....
    – user82
    Commented Mar 6, 2012 at 21:41

Vote up all the answers that seem useful. If one of them can be accepted before you go, accept it. If not, add a comment saying you'll accept it in 3 months or 6 months or whenever you can confirm it, after your trip. Probably most importantly, don't ask questions you will never be able to accept because you were just wondering, but you won't accept until you act on the answer. Most "just wondering" questions are offtopic here.

Examples: years ago SAA wasn't in Star Alliance but codeshared with Lufthansa. I asked (elsewhere, obviously) how to make sure a FRA-JNB flight was really on LH so I would get the miles. Someone told me how to decode the flight numbers. If that question was here, some people would accept the answer within days, others not till their miles posted. Either is fine. But asking when you have no trip planned, and no trip materializes, and so not accepting because you have no proof the answer is right - well that would just prove you probably shouldn't have asked.

It might make an interesting addition to the FAQ, in with the "constructive" section. If it won't be possible to accept an answer, it's probably not constructive. (That's one of the knocks against "list of" and "best" questions.)


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