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After searching http://askubuntu.com I was looking through all the unanswered questions and its frustrating trawling through 607 unanswered questions at 15 per page (approx 9,105) and it appears that questions remain unanswered for the following reasons (with links to a few examples of each type, to demonstrate):

  1. Question answered by a comment - and accepted by person who posted the question, but they never bother to change it into an answer. It appears that the site admin doesn't sort them out either, as they are left in lmbo for years, (e.g.):
    Ubuntu 18.04 logs out unexpectedly or crashes
    failed to enroll MOK key on upgrade 17.10 -> 18.04
    How to change Nautilus shortcuts keys in Ubuntu 18.04?
  2. Question is regarded as too broad - however it is not flagged as such; it's just a comment again, and the latter recommended it should go to chat. It appears that's what happened, but the question is still flagged as unanswered:
    Why do keyboard shortcuts stop working in Ubuntu 18.04 with Gnome.
    gnome-terminal hides ending characters of the current path's first row
  3. Question is awaiting feedback - Questions are still awaiting feedback over a year:
    Window manager warning: Overwriting existing binding of keysym XXX with keysym XXX (keycode XX)
    vboxdrv does not exist. after kernel installation
  4. Question is literally unanswered - for example:
    Use Bluetooth headset with microphone (HFP) in Ubuntu 18.04
    PlayOnLinux not detecting FreeType fonts - ubuntu 18.04
    VPN disconnect - do not stop internet
  5. Answered but answer not yet accepted - of which at time of writing there are:
    9,099 questions with no upvoted or accepted answers, despite a lot of them are actually answered but not yet accepted.
    Very high Xorg memory usage with Ubuntu 18.04
    What causes "PKCS#7 signature not signed with a trusted key"

    IMHO, I think these could be dealt with as follows:
    (1) No one should answer a question with a comment, but it appears to be common. In many cases, the person asking the question has even accepted the answer. Suggest that when entering a comment you should get a warning to make it clear you should not use comments to answer and what is it now? +50 to comment? Suggest it should be much higher and then it should be only the sort of people will never answer with a comment; maybe add an incentive by means of a points deduction, to put people off the malpractice and add this to the warning every time someone goes to add a comment. Also, housekeeping should sort out ones that have already been answered by a comment and prompt the person who answered to post it as an actual answer, and the person who asked the question to accept the answer.

    (2) If a question is regarded as too-broad or for any other reason is not accepted, then it should be flagged in some way and deleted after n days/n months.

    (3) If a question doesn't get feedback from the person who asked the question after say 1 month, then delete it.

    (4) What you do about questions still unanswered? I don't know, but if I asked a question and it was unanswered for over a month it is highly likely I have since found a solution by then, and would answer it myself allowing it to be closed off at some point, but many users, especially new ones, do nothing. Suggest you email the person to tell them the question is about to be closed if you get no feedback, then delete the question.

    (5) Suggest administrators or those whose task it is, to make a point of going through questions and prompting the the person asking the question to mark the answer as accepted or whatever you can do to arrive more quickly at an accepted answer. for example this question is over 7 years old, it has 6 answers, the last has the most votes with 1131, so why didn't/doesn't someone simply mark that as the accepted answer since its clearly the best answer and why is it not right at the top since it has the most votes?:
    How can I copy the contents of a folder to another folder in a different directory using terminal?

Also if you are looking only for an answer there is no option to list only answered questions or answered questions that actually have an accepted answer! suggest you add an Answered option to the list or

Answered (accepted)
Answered (not accepted):

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You have some good points here but also a couple of misunderstandings on how the site works.

With regards to the 15 questions per page, at the bottom of every page you can select if you want 15, 30 or 50 questions per page, just choose the one you like.

It is also worth noting that a question does not need to have a green check mark to be considered answered here, all it needs is an answer with a positive (+1) vote score. The check mark is just a way for the OP to say "this worked for me!", it is not the way to find the best answer or even the correct answer, in some cases. You can find accepted answers that are heavily downvoted due to them being low quality, don't put to much faith in that check mark, it is not the be all, end all of answers.

It is possible to get questions only with accepted answers if that is what you really want, as well as a myriad of other criteria too, by using the advanced search function, here are some examples:

[18.04] isaccepted:yes Will find all questions tagged 18.04 and with an accepted answer.

created:2018 isaccepted:no answers:1 Will find all question from 2018, that have at least one answer but not an accepted one.

As you can see you can get quite specific with this, it is well worth learning.

Now I will address your suggestions to improve the answer rate:

Nobody should answer a question with a comment, but it appears to be common

While you are not wrong, it is much less black and white than that. Common reasons someone might answer in a comment can be that the comment was not intended as an answer, for example a comment saying "can you try X and let me know if it helps" may well contain the solution but the poster might not be sure and want some feedback before committing to an answer, if the OP gets a solution and never bothers to post back, then how can the commenter ever know if they were right? If you do see a comment answer then feel free to comment yourself asking them to post it as an answer, often a reminder is all they need.

+50 to comment? suggest it should be much higher and then it should be only the sort of people will never answer with a comment and maybe add an incentive by means of a points deduction, to put people off the malpractice and add this to the warning every time someone goes to add a comment.

Have you seen the amount of complaints already about requiring 50 rep to comment? This would not go down well. I really don't agree people should lose rep for comments under any circumstances, you seem to have the impression that commenting is only being used for answers and that is very wrong, the vast majority of comments are used to request clarification, you may need it to answer but you may just need to understand an existing answer better or get a question clarified. People know not to answer in comments, a warning is not going to help that if it was never their intention to do so in the first place.

If a question is regarded as too-broad or for any other reason is not accepted, then it should be flagged in some way and deleted after n days/n months.

This already happens, there is a robust flag/close system already, you can't see it because you don't meet the reputation requirements but question can be closed because they are unclear, too broad, duplicates, off topic etc, even at low rep you can flag a question for the attention of others.

If a question doesn't get feedback from the person who asked the question after say 1 month then delete it.

That is not necessary, it might sound a bit harsh but we don't need any feedback or interaction from the question poster to take action on questions or answer them etc. Removing them after just a month may be a bit premature, sometimes questions get answered long after they were posted or can become relevant again years later.

It is worth mentioning here that the point of the site is not to get the individual an answer but to create a database of Q&A that anyone can use, removing questions is really an extreme action here, we want them to stay, whether the OP cares or not, we should keep them, improve them, update them and hope someone in the future will find them of use.

Number four is pretty much the same thing, we don't remove questions because the OP does not care any more, the question may be useful others in the future and for that reason should not just be removed.

Suggest you email the person to tell them the question is about to be closed if you get no feedback then delete the question

This isn't a bad idea but may already happen, I'm not sure, I guess it would require consent from the OP to email them but it may get some to return.

so why didn't/doesn't someone simply mark that as the accepted answer since its clearly the best answer

The accept mark is just for the OP to say "this helped me", no one else can accept an answer on their behalf. Like you say, the votes show that the answer is the best, what's wrong with that? Note that we do ask people to accept answers all the time but sometimes the person who asked just doesn't care and ignores that request, nothing anyone can do about that.

Something else to understand is that the software this site is running on was not designed with Ask Ubuntu in mind, the site must adapt to the software, not the software to the site, so while some things may seem logical to change it is just beyond the power of anyone here to make those changes.

I hope this can clarify some things about why the site is the way it is for you, if you have any questions feel free to comment.

Here are a few relevant links:

Why are you only allowed to comment with 50 rep?

Why are so many answers posted as comments?

Are questions asked 'n' plus years ago, still relevant?

What is the meaning of an accept (of an answer)?

Is it okay to ask a user to accept an answer for his/her question?

Forcing "leavers" to accept an answer

This one is an SO link but the goal is the same for the whole network:

https://meta.stackoverflow.com/questions/254770/what-is-stack-overflow-s-goal

  • OK thanks for the extensive answer. I am new to the site so some of the things you informed me about the site is news to me, so thanks for clarifying these. The reason for stating 607 unanswered questions at 15 per page was merely to highlight the volume of unanswered questions as a starting point to my suggestions. Also I note when I joined and asked my first question that askubuntu states: "We prefer questions that can be answered, not just discussed." and so do I, that's why I don't agree with answers in comments and comments are not voted upon, so how can we then trust the answer. – Steve Oct 31 at 13:40

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