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As per What to do when a question has been answered but the asker forgot to "accept it"?, it's sadly common that new users will fail to actually accept an answers, at best posting a comment that it's the right answer. I've taken to adding a comment with my answers explaining how to accept an answer. I make it pretty simple, along the lines of "If this is your answer, you can accept it by clicking on the checkmark by the voting buttons" since I typically type it in quickly to catch people before they vanish, but I've since had this drawn into question as to whether this might be noise and/or seen as a way to influence querents to accept my answer whether or not it's actually the right one.

What do people think of as a good policy here? I can desist, if desired, but I also do feel that this is useful, as we get a lot of hit-and-run questions, particularly for things like .

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    I don't think it's a problem, I simply fear that it's largely futile... :( – DavidW Dec 31 '19 at 4:57
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    it’s more useful than not for something like story id. It becomes noise once an answer is accepted but that happens with other comments too, just delete or flag once it gets to that point not before. – TheLethalCarrot Dec 31 '19 at 9:16
  • {glances at scifi.stackexchange.com/a/225268/23243 where my usual comment looks to have been deleted and there's a comment acceptance} – FuzzyBoots Dec 31 '19 at 14:14
  • And it would have helped here too. – TheLethalCarrot Dec 31 '19 at 14:18
  • @TheLethalCarrot: sigh – FuzzyBoots Dec 31 '19 at 14:19
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I've noticed quite a few of these comments being flagged recently. Not flagged as promotion or anything, just a plain "no longer needed" flag after the answer is accepted. Speaking as one mod (I don't know how the others feel about this), I don't mind the extra workload from such comments. The flags are actually very quick and easy to handle: usually I need to click through to the post and get context before handling a flag, but with these ones I can see on the main mod dashboard that the answer is accepted and therefore the comment must be redundant.

Do those comments actually help? Impossible to say, but probably yes. We see so many cases where a hit-and-run story-ID OP posts a comment to confirm the answer and then promptly disappears from the site, never even seeing the comments informing them about the accept button. If there's already a comment to inform them, that must make it more likely that they'll accept before disappearing, even if there's no way we can actually collect data on this.

Does it look like begging for rep? To some people, yes. You've already had an exchange in comments (presumably what sparked this meta post) with another user who said: "it's just spam really, and could be interpreted as manipulating new users to accept your answer just because you ask them to, rather than for the usual reasons to accept an answer." That user was willing to assume good intent in your case, but you'll come across others who aren't.

Restrictions for when you shouldn't do it.

  • IMO, it's OK to do this for story-ID questions, provided you emphasise clearly that the OP should only accept if that story is the one they were looking for. We don't want them clicking the accept button just out of gratitude that someone tried to answer even if they got it wrong, maybe thinking it's a different kind of upvote button.
  • Story-ID questions are special, because there's always a single correct answer and everything else is just a good try. This is also the only type of question where our duplication policy depends on acceptance. For other types of question, I think the risk of being seen as manipulating rep out of newbies outweighs the benefit of having a correct answer marked. I deleted one of your comments today on a answer.
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    On non-identification questions there isn’t really much value to having an answer accepted. Why does it matter which answer the person asking the question likes the best? This is not Stack Overflow where the questioner has the unique ability to say “this solved my problem”. If anything, acceptance on such questions is negative, as it allows one person to unilaterally decide which answer is “the best”, and it discourages further answers. – Alex Dec 31 '19 at 23:26
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    As an aside, I think it's fine removing these after a time when the answer is not accepted, since if they haven't accepted it 6 months later, the odds are they are never going to do so. – FuzzyBoots Jan 2 '20 at 15:17
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I suppose I've already covered this in my question, but in my opinion, these comments are useful. Stack Exchange makes is fairly easy for people to join and post a question all at once, and people don't necessarily notice how to accept an answer in the process. Last night, I posted two answers with comments indicating how to accept, https://scifi.stackexchange.com/a/225268/23243 and https://scifi.stackexchange.com/a/225272/58193. Both comments got flagged for deletion. There's one accept by comment and one by answer, but no actual acceptance. Maybe they would not have read the comment on how to accept either, but it's good evidence that people don't know how to accept an answer, and might be helped with a prompt.

I'm going to experiment with pointing them to the [tour] for how to accept an answer rather than explicitly telling them. Hopefully, that will be a gentle enough hint that no one will flag it as being self-promoting.

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