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Some questions will never recieve an answer, because they have been abandoned. One example is this one: 'Notify user of new account' checkbox to be selected as default The same goes for question which are not clear, commentors have asked questions, but the OP does not return to the question to clarify.

Can a moderator/high reputation member "force accept" an answer? If so, should they? I dislike leaving unanswered questions remain un-answered when there either actually is a clear answer, or never will be one.

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Can a moderator/high reputation member "force accept" an answer?

No, neither of them can. Stack Exchange allows only to the user who asked the question to accept an answer.

When a question doesn't have accepted answers, there is something that everybody who can vote answers can do: Up-vote the most correct answers, and down-vote the answers that are completely wrong, or not useful.
In this way, future visitors would see the more useful/correct answers before the other ones.

There are some feature requests on meta site for all the network about allowing moderators to accept an answer for when the user who asked the question is not anymore an active user, but those requests have been down-voted and rejected. Stack Exchange won't implement that feature.

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Looking at the example question, I am not sure if it matters whether it has been checked or not. It might make sense to leave a comment on the answer concurring with it and voting it up, so that future readers get the sense it is correct. A checkmark next to an answer does not necessarily mean it is correct.

The second situation, when we have poor questions where the use does not come back to clarify issues raised in comments and clearly not active on the site, it might make sense to remove the question entirely. It certainly is not helpful to anyone.

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  • My motivating for doing something about the first one is that the community account will every now and then bump it, and users browsing "unanswered" questions will always have that one there. Building up over time, this could cost us valuable attention that should be placed on other questions. – Letharion Jan 29 '12 at 10:14
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    If someone upvotes an answer, it will fall off the list of unanswered questions. – mpdonadio Jan 31 '12 at 17:25

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