I was perusing unanswered questions and there are two observations:

  • (1) there were questions which had answers, but are showing up when I click on unanswered. Is this because the answer was not accepted by the OP or something else?

  • (2) there were questions that did not have answers because the answer was in a comment. It took time to read through the comments to actually figure that out (although it certainly isn't always true)

My goals were to potentially answer unanswered questions and also to try and understand what percentage of question, on average, go unanswered from the over 109k on MSE.

This question has somewhat been discussed before, but I wanted to ask if something like the following is possible.

We have reviewers reviewing questions that have no answers, but have comments. If the comments actually provided the answer, they are marked as answered. I suppose we could even automatically ask the OP if the question has been satisfactorily answered so it can be marked as such and not cause users to spend time reviewing questions that actually don't need formal answers.

Is something like this desired to give us better metrics, so users like me don't spend time reviewing questions that don't need answers and general cleanliness of the question database?

Thanks

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In addition, what should we do about questions such as this which have been recommended to be asked elsewhere and answered? –  George V. Williams Mar 10 '13 at 22:09
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1 Answer

up vote 12 down vote accepted

The Unanswered tab answers your question (1) itself: "16,789 questions with no upvoted answers" (although one should add: not closed, with nonnegative score, and without an accepted answer).

  • If you see an answer there that deserves an upvote, do everyone a favor by upvoting it.

  • If you see that the question has been answered in comments, do everyone an even bigger favor and put them together into an answer. It's up to you to decide whether such an answer should be a community wiki; your compilation effort is worth something too. (But the authors of comments should be acknowledged in either case.)

A question can be removed from Unanswered in the following three ways:

  1. Someone posts an answer which gets upvoted and/or accepted.
  2. The question is closed.
  3. The question acquires a negative vote total.

A question cannot be simply marked as answered.

The opinions on the suitability of 2 and 3 as ways of reducing the Unanswered backlog may be divided.

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Note that it depends on which(!) unanswered tab you click on. If you click on the Unanswered on the main bar, you get the behavior you describe. If you click on Questions and then on the unanswered tab on the secondary bar, you'll get a different list. :) –  cardinal Feb 26 '13 at 1:57
    
@cardinal Thanks, I never noticed that. It seems that the difference is that Questions/unanswered includes questions with a negative score, while Unanswered does not. I bet 100 reputation points that this is a developer's oversight rather than intentional behavior. –  user53153 Feb 26 '13 at 2:01
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I bet 100 reputation points... Maybe. Maybe not. If you watch carefully, you'll see that (on occasion) the questions on the active list of the main site are different from the active ones after clicking on Questions. It's a feature...ahem. (At least one difference is that some questions of very negative score get suppressed in one list, but not the other.) :) –  cardinal Feb 26 '13 at 2:04
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