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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, they cannot. The reason is that an accepted answer is the answer that helped more the user who asked the question, and only that user is able to report which answer helped him the most. Who asked the question can only accept the answer that helped them the most, not the answer that is more useful for future readers too. They could accept the answer with more up-votes, but that doesn't always happen, as they could find more useful another answer with less votes.

With a question without an accepted answer, there is something that everybody 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 on the top the answers that are more useful/correct.

There are some feature requests on Meta Stack Overflow about allowing moderators to accept an answer for those questions where the OP is not anymore an active user, but those requests have been down-voted, or/and rejected.

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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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