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In my opinion, there is a moral obligation on those asking questions to do something with the answers: Either accept one, or to explain why none of the answers is satisfactory. I do not see this stated anywhere. Should that be included in etiquette rules, and perhaps even encouraged by incentives?

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    $\begingroup$ Whatever one might answer to this question -- I think first of all, it raises the meta-question why someone who has never answered a question or got an answer to a question they asked on this site so far is interested in knowing this. -- In particular in view of this discussion. $\endgroup$ – Stefan Kohl Jun 24 at 12:17
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    $\begingroup$ There is an incentive to accept an answer (in main): you get +2 reputation. (See mathoverflow.net/help/someone-answers and mathoverflow.net/help/accepted-answer .) $\endgroup$ – Joel Reyes Noche Jun 24 at 13:38
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    $\begingroup$ @StefanKohl In answer to your meta-question: I am interested in knowing this because there are a number of questions in MO where people spent time to provide (sometimes multiple) answers which were then completely ignored by the OP. And, by the way, in this instance it is perfectly ok if you completely ignore my answer to your meta-question. $\endgroup$ – TJP Jun 24 at 14:18
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    $\begingroup$ It's part of the policy that one does not have to give explanation on upvotes, downvotes, or why one accepts an answer, so I think it would not be coherent to require justification for not accepting an answer. $\endgroup$ – YCor Jun 24 at 16:22
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    $\begingroup$ When a low reputation user upvoted an answer to their own question, they are shown a popup mentioning accepting answer: Remind new users to choose some answers?. So there is at least this as a reminder. $\endgroup$ – Martin Sleziak Jun 25 at 2:22
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Because this is a publicly viewed forum, in my opinion, there is no moral obligation of the original poster to do anything with the question after it is presented. (Private forums are a different matter.) There are social niceties such as editing to improve the question, responding to answers, and even accepting an answer, but most if not all of these can be done by the community or the forum moderator(s). I would like (for increased understanding of motivation) to engage with the questioner, but not obligate them to such an engagement.

As noted, there are some incentives for such engagement, and for each forum, the community there might want to encourage more (or less) engagement. I still do not see obligating the questioner to do more than provide the raw source material.

Gerhard "It Has To Start Somewhere" Paseman, 2019.06.24.

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  • $\begingroup$ "Moral obligation" in my question was perhaps too strong. "Common courtesy" would be more appropriate. If I ask a question and somebody spends time answering it, the least I can do is to acknowledge that that I have read the answer. But I do understand that there are reasons for not having a formal enforcement of such acknowledgements in MO. $\endgroup$ – TJP Jun 24 at 20:11
  • $\begingroup$ I agree that there are rules of courtesy, and that appropriate responses may be gently encouraged. Much as I like MathOverflow to be a courteous and respectful place, it isn't always, and I suspect encouraging posters to interact more without giving them full commenting ability when they join is a mistake. When someone has established a history of communal behaviour, then we can try to shape that behaviour. Gerhard "Let's First Get Them Started" Paseman, 2019.06.24. $\endgroup$ – Gerhard Paseman Jun 24 at 20:19
  • $\begingroup$ Re: most if not all of these can be done by the community or the forum moderator(s). As far as I know, an answer can be accepted only by the OP. There have been several feature request related to this - some of them are marked (status-declined). For example: Force Accepted Answers on Questions by Inactive Users, Would it be possible to have a “community accepted” feature? or Moderators accepting answers on user's behalf after a certain time period. $\endgroup$ – Martin Sleziak Jun 25 at 2:47
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If there is no way to make an user accept a good reply to one his/her questions, wouldn't it be nice to make up to the author of the unaccepted answer by awarding him/her a new type of badge? Obviously, there would be a restriction from below on the number of upvotes that such an answer ought to receive in order for its composer to become an awardee of the badge.

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    $\begingroup$ We already use upvotes to award points to an answer. "Accepted" is a special status that may not be shared by community opinion of the answer, so the 'blame' for assigning acceptance is put on one person, the asker. Gerhard "Doesn't Seem Fair, Does It?" Paseman, 2019.06.24. $\endgroup$ – Gerhard Paseman Jun 24 at 21:50

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