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I have noticed that the more prolific users of this site tend to accept the first answer to their question quite fast. Now there is obviously nothing wrong in accepting any good and thorough answers that address the question properly and solve the issue at hand. It encourages the user who gave said answer to proceed to contribute to the site... and that is a good thing.

However, there is also a downside to the quick acceptance of the first answer - it discourages additional answers. A question with an accepted answer is likely to receive less further attention than one without, i.e. it doesn't show up in the unanswered list. It is therefore worthwhile to at least consider waiting some time before accepting an answer. On other branches of SE a grace period of a full day is discussed to give other people a chance to give another (better) answer.

So, please do not take this post as an advise to not accept (as in never) well-written answers that fully solve the posted problem - just consider to wait now and then.

Further reading:

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  • There's a post on meta.SE that gives some details on this. It's suggested in the top answer that giving answers 24-48 hours before accepting isn't a bad idea. – anonymous2 Apr 10 '17 at 19:11
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I tend to accept answers relatively quickly, under certain criteria:

  • does the answer cover all of the question in enough detail?
  • am I happy that I don't want any further clarification that another answer might provide?
  • is the question old enough (definitely more than 1-2 hours if possible) to have given other users the chance to answer?

If an answer meets those, I'm happy to accept straight away, and Stack Exchange guidance seems to consider this acceptable:

  • Don't hesitate to accept an answer that is well-written, suggests a good practice and works for you.
  • Otherwise, even if there are answers that are good enough but that you're not entirely satisfied by, you might wait 24 to 48 hours to give other people a chance to give you a better answer. A question with an accepted answer isn't as likely to receive further attention as one without an accepted answer.

The key bit in my mind is works for you. It's important to remember acceptance doesn't mean "this is the best answer", it means "this is the answer that solved the author's problem (in their opinion)". If an answer is detailed enough that I don't need any clarification from other answers, I'm happy to accept to say "this solved my problem/query".

Of course, I could turn this question on its head and ask if you believe that the question could be answered more completely, why not answer even if it is accepted? Even days and weeks after the question is asked, I believe it's only fair to read new answers and adjust the acceptance if the new answer is significantly clearer/more detailed than the previous accepted answer.

On meta, however, I follow a different policy, since accepting an answer represents a more fundamental decision on site policy in a lot of cases. If there is one, unanimously upvoted answer after several days, I will accept, but in any other case I think it's best to simply leave questions with no accepted answer to give the community the choice.

In summary:

  • upvote helpful answers, but don't feel pressured to accept when incomplete, but...
  • don't be scared to accept a great answer straight away, if it's clear that this covers everything you would need to know, and...
  • remember to read new answers and be ready to change your acceptance if the new answer is a better solution!
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  • 1
    Special thanks for addressing the difference between the main site and meta. – Ghanima Dec 14 '16 at 21:15
  • I think this would be valid for a mature site where you're asking a question to solve a specific problem. once its answered, you move on. In the early part of a beta, I think it is a little different, and makes more sense to encourage wider participation - across time zones, etc. – Sean Houlihane Dec 20 '16 at 10:23
  • @SeanHoulihane that's a fair point; I've been trying not to accept without giving enough time for everyone to answer after posting this to see if it makes any difference - I'll edit once I get a clearer picture about whether it seems to produce an improvement on my questions. – Aurora0001 Dec 20 '16 at 15:50
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I have noticed that there are varied opinions on this. Some users, particularly new users, tend to accept answers almost as soon as they go on. It's not serious, since you can always unaccept, but as you said, I have noticed that seasoned users almost always leave it open for at least a few hours. This accomplishes several things, most of which you mentioned already:

  • It encourages additional answers
  • It gives time to verify the answer
  • It brings more attention and development to the question
  • It gives more time for experienced users to come on and improve even the answer that will be accepted in the future, which they might be less likely to do if it is already accepted
  • It produces competition between the best answer and other answers, forcing the OP to keep their answer up to scratch

Great thoughts, and thanks for posting up!

N.B.: Don't accept this answer too fast...

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